Just this year, our school has changed the names of our teams to teina, waenga and tuakana. This acknowledges what we see as the growth of our learners and was a result of consultation with our community.The proverb I have included summarises much of what I believe is important in teaching practice and to me, summarises that same growth. I believe in the concept of the promise of that hidden seed. For all of us, the mutual respect of knowing where we come from and knowing where others come from too gives us that strong root to cling to.
Te Kotahitanga Effective Teaching Profile gives a very clear profile of what effective cultural responsiveness looks like and is a really useful document to refer to when reflecting on our school’s journey. Its five guiding concepts as to cultural concepts are referred to throughout this post.
We are a Catholic school, with a Religious Education curriculum to follow. This curriculum has for many years had a strong component acknowledging Maori kaupapa.This stems from leadership of the Catholic Community as a whole. The Catholic Bishops of New Zealand acknowledge the importance of cultural responsiveness when they state,“In the Treaty of Waitangi, we find the moral basis for our presence in Aotearoa New Zealand and a vision that sets this country apart.” (“Treaty of Waitangi,” n.d.)
The Religious Education curriculum itself states that, “Maori children in Catholic schools have a right, supported by Church teaching to have the faith explained to them in a culturally relevant way, using those traditional Maori concepts, beliefs and values which are still part of the life of Maori today.” (“Maori spirituaiity in the curriculum” p.7)
So, for us, kaupapa is woven into everyday practice. The children are well used to tikanga such as karakia. This, I think, goes quite some way towards the concepts of manakitanga ( respect and integrity) and tangata whenuatangata (cultural locatedness) as it affirms concepts in meaningful contexts. There is nothing ‘token’ about this aspect, as it is central to the programme.
What resonates with me is that, because we are a relatively small community, with a wealth of actively involved parents, our interactions evolve with ease, whereas whanaungatanga requires me to elicit, rather than respond to, these communications. Perhaps sometimes we feel a little condescending asking our Maori parents for that particular perspective?Should we be more proactive in this?
The concept of deficit theorising also has implications, not just for Maori students, but for other groups- refugees, learners for whom English is not a first language,boys.It really is essential that we back ourselves to make a difference.For us as learners, our ako needs to be pushing ourselves to know more.It fits so well with the growth mindset I am working to achieve this term. Bishop and Berrymann (2009) tell us “despite our having the best intentions in the world, if the students with whom we are interacting as teachers are led to believe that we think they are deficient, they will respond to this negatively.” P 28 .
Cultural responsiveness is more than rejecting the deficit theories, it is absolutely accepting the tapu of the whole person.I hope I do this in all my interactions, in school and beyond.
Bishop,R.,& Berrymann, M.(2009) The Te Kotahitanga Effective Teaching Profile.Set 2.27-33. Retrieved from http://www.nzcer.org.nz/system/files/set2009_2_027.pdf
The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.(n.d) Treaty of Waitangi http://www.catholic.org.nz/our-story/dsp-default.cfm?loadref=42
Maori spirituality in the curriculum.(n.d). Retrieved from http://www.faithalive.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Year-5-Strand-prep2.pdf.
NZ Teachers’ Council. ( 2011). Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners: A resource for use with the Graduating Teacher Standards and Registered Teacher Criteria. Wellington, New Zealand: Retrieved from http://www.educationcouncil.org.nz/required/Tataiako_RTCandGTS.pdf