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Creating an inclusive learning environment

Students are more likely to achieve in classical 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 akō, a teaching–learning relationship in which the teacher also learns from the student.

For the teacher, akō 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.

Principles of a kaupapa Māori pedagogy

New Zealand’s foundations are bicultural, so tikanga Māori should be at the centre of learning, and all teaching should be informed by the kaupapa Māori principles identified by Russell Bishop and Ted Glynn 1 :

Tino rangitiratanga – the right to determine one’s destiny, with parents and children involved in decision-making

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 ngā raruraru o te kāinga – reaches into Māori homes and brings parents and families into the activities of the school

Whānau – the development of connections with the community to support learning

Kaupapa – acknowledging and valuing the language and culture in the classroom and chosen contexts

Read more about  Te Kotahitanga

Read more about the  Effective Teaching Profile

Some suggested contexts and approaches

  • Co-construction of the learning with the students and making the connections to authentic contexts explicit.
  • Inviting individual (or groups of) students to chose a context that has particular cultural significance for them.
  • Meetings with family and whānau to outline programmes of work and discuss ways that they might support students in their learning.
  • Upskilling teachers in terms of pronunciation and familiarity with the concepts that underlie Māoritanga.
  • The underworld compared with modern cultural beliefs about life after death, such as Māori ancestors, Pasifika myths and legends, Christian notions heaven and hell: what possibilities are there for life after death?
  • Ideas of health and well-being: hauora, exercise, diet, medical care: does good health lead to a good life?
  • Comparison of rites of passage: birth, coming of age, marriage, and death in the classical world vs Māori or Hindu practices: how do we mark and celebrate special occasions?
  • Empire and power, for example, Athenian Golden Age as a model for British cultural imperialism/modern New Zealand society since colonisation: how do minority cultures survive?
  • Social mobility and cultural identity, for example, freed men vs asylum seekers/new immigrants in New Zealand: what challenges do individuals face when they try to improve their lot?
  • Attitudes to the body and sexuality, for example, ancient Greek, Hindu, Māori philosophy of hauora: mind, body, soul – how do they connect?
  • Disenfranchisement in ancient Greece, Rome, New Zealand, and the world, for example, women, immigrants, the landless, criminals: do you feel that you belong?
  • Field trips to sites that are of special significance to Māori to compare/contrast them with classical sites.

For more information on how to create an inclusive classroom environment, refer to the four mechanisms for learning in the social sciences.

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  1. Culture Counts: Changing Power Relations in Education (1999). The Dunmore Press, Palmerston North.

Last updated June 11, 2018