Teacher Education in indigenous contexts: Critical considerations of teacher educator understandings and decision-making related to treaty issues and social justice
Despite the existence of a treaty (Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi, 1840) in Aotearoa New Zealand that promised the indigenous Māori that their language and culture would be protected, these rights to autonomy and self-determination have not been fully realised. The persistent gap in the education system’s responsiveness to Māori educational aspirations and well-being poses a significant social justice challenge to educators, in particular teacher educators. In order to successfully respond to the educational needs of Māori as tangata whenua (the ‘people of the land’ or indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) teacher educators must develop the necessary sociocultural knoweldge and culturally-responsive pedagogies to enact the fullness of their professional responsibilities as treaty partners with Māori. By focusing on the indigenous context of teacher education in Aotearoa New Zealand, we seek to illuminate a particular aspect of this complexity as a means to extend and problematise the discourse around international teacher educator knowledge and practice with respect to issues of diversity, culturally responsive practice, and social justice. In undertaking this inquiry, we draw from a larger qualitative investigation examining the perspectives of a small group of teacher educators regarding their understandings of the treaty in relation to their educational practice. Our analysis is informed by critical theory (Giroux, 2007; Kincheloe, 2008) and the notion of ‘teachers as gatekeepers” (Thornton, 1991, p 238).