Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness
The true passion for addressing fair learning spaces and ground breaking ideas in development for Maori and Pasifica students is a credit to Ann Milne (2013). She not only talks about white spaces but knows, as she is white herself, living in a community of Maori and Pasifica learners in south Auckland, and has been in education longer that I have lived, stands for knowing what needs to be done.
However, with her kaha, I had to sit and reflect on what it was that confused me...it was that I can only ever be me...and since in ref to the post colonial that many of us work in and how this does not meet the needs of our Maori and Pasifika learners...I realised I have not been exposed enough to know what teaching large percentages of Maori or Pasifica students require...My subject knowledge is strong and my willing to engage with my students is also positive, but I do not know what a large family is like to live in, nor do I know what true community is. Most of my learning is done independently and both family and friends are small groups also.
Milne has both family and community in large, within the Maori culture and what she experiences as normal, I do not.This lead me onto thinking how passion can be contagious and her passion for learning rights, focusing on issues that have been shadowed by indoctrinated teacher's who didn't know any other way. The Maori community of learners was within a village where knowledge was shared and the formal education as colonial ways were very different. The only way out is building a better model together, involving everyone in the chain.
I find now, I want to teach, as I never really enjoyed school, never felt valued at school, because we were talked at not talked with, I enjoy changing this in my classroom. Having open conversations, sharing ideas, beliefs and experiences. Listening with my learners and this has allowed my practice to be guided by my students. Milne suggested that the reason her students were doing well and learning effectively was because they were asked. Asked what they thought, given a platform to have a voice and share ideas, beliefs and not in just behind walls, but mixed learning spaces, mixed ages and questions were researched.
My preferred approach to social change starts with sensing the tension between our values and vision for the future on the one hand, and our business reality (behavior) on the other.
The cultural model in leadership requires understanding of beliefs, values and background,encouraging a sharing of traditions that enables schools to establish connectivity. When Maori or Pasifica students are no more than 8% of the school roll then this can be more challenging to have the required support network for all teachers to understand ways in which our indigenous cultures work best. No there is no excuse, just a unknown or lack of experience within the cultural practices. When the roll is 80% Maori and Pasifica then the community shows itself and all it's requirements, behaviour's and practices as a community.
Maybe the bridge is slowly being walked across, but big voices like Dr Milne will echo in our minds to question, are we lacking methods for all learners?
CORE Education.(2017, 17 October). Dr Ann Milne, Colouring in the white spaces: Reclaiming cultural identity in whitestream schools.[video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cTvi5qxqp4&feature=em-subs_digest