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Creating an inclusive learning environment

Students are more likely to achieve in geography when they see their concerns and ideas taken seriously and their culture 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 students.

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.

New Zealand’s foundations are bicultural, so tikanga Maori should be at the centre of learning and teaching should reflect Kaupapa Maori 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.
  • 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 Maori homes and brings parents and families into the activities of the school.
  • Whanau – the development of connections with the community to support learning.
  • Kaupapa – acknowledging and valuing the language and culture in the classroom and chosen contexts.

Some suggested contexts and approaches in geography:

  • Visiting a marae to learn from kaumātua about Māori views of kaitiakitanga.
  • Field trips to sites that are of special significance to Māori.
  • Inviting individuals or groups of students to choose a context that has particular cultural significance for them.
  • Inviting kaumātua to participate in a hui on a local or topical issue such as mining on conservation land.
  • Case study of a Māori-owned eco-tourism or cultural tourism venture.
  • Meetings with family and whānau to outline programmes of work and discuss ways in which they might support students in their learning.

Last updated November 24, 2010