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Creating an inclusive learning environment

Students are more likely to achieve in legal studies when they see their concerns and ideas taken seriously and their cultures valued in subject content and learning contexts.

By recognising that students have a cultural identity and inviting them to share their cultural knowledge in learning contexts, teachers promote 'ako', a teaching–learning relationship in which the teacher also learns from the student.

For the teacher, ako involves acknowledging, respecting, and valuing who students are and where they come from and, through deliberate and reflective practice, building on what they bring with them to the learning setting. People of all cultures have skills, knowledge, and qualities that can be built on.

Key aspects of ako

The key aspects of ako are:

  • Language, identity and culture counts – knowing where students come from and building on what students bring with them.
  • Productive partnerships – Māori students, whānau and educators sharing knowledge and expertise with each other to produce better outcomes.

Ka Hikitia  Accelerating Success 2013–2017 is the Ministry of Education's strategy to improve the performance of the education system for and with Māori.

New Zealand’s foundations are bicultural, so tikanga Māori should be at the centre of learning and teaching should reflect Kaupapa Māori pedagogy based on the principles below as identified by Russell Bishop and Ted Glynn (2000):

  • Tino rangatiratanga – the right to determine one’s own destiny. Parents and children are involved in decision-making processes.
  • Kaupapa – acknowledging and valuing the language and culture in the classroom and chosen contexts.
  • Taonga tuku iho – the treasures from the ancestors, providing a set of principles by which to live our lives.
  • Ako – a mutual teaching and learning relationship in which the educator is also learning from the student.
  • Kia piki ake I nga raruraru o te kainga – reaches into Māori homes and brings parents and families into the activities of the school.
  • Whanau – the development of connections with the community to support learning.

Some suggested contexts and approaches in legal studies

Allow students to explore their own opinions. For example, students will have opinions around legislation designed to crack down on boy racers or the drinking age proposals. Choose current issues that students will find interesting and relevant.

Students can use the Internet or newspapers to search current issues and events that relate to the law. These can range from local to international issues. The Law Commission reviews areas of the law that need updating, reforming or developing and is a good source of current legal issues.

Think about and discuss matters pertaining to the law – everything in their lives is shaped by the law.

Use examples involving the wider family and community in restorative processes – Youth Court, marae justice.

Last updated July 31, 2015