"Fanaafi o fa'amalama" : a light within the light : nurturing coolness & dignity in Samoan students' secondary school learning in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study examines how Samoan students at the secondary school level cope under intense pressure of their dual operation (fa'asamoa-western culture) in their social psychological-cultural learning constructions. A "Samoan fieldwork" study investigated the student-centred learning, particularly the realities of their experiences in the classroom. A Matuaofaiva Model (integrative fa'asamoa perspective) guided the multi-disciplinary methodology employed. Previous relative studies were nevertheless utilised for their exogenous frameworks, themes and concepts. This study developed an expected viable learning process, which allowed Samoan students to engage and cope within learning processes. The study specifically seeks to develop a substantive model of understanding that can interpret and hypothesise on students' invisible and visible behaviours in conjunction with their actions. To examine the coping/managing strategies of learning, I worked with nine Senior Samoan students at a state suburban high school in New Zealand over a period of over a year following individuals and groups. Intensive observations of the student sample was complemented and supplemented by fa'afaletui fonos (forums) and informal discussions with parents, teachers and students' peers and cohorts. Data was analysed during the data collection process, which covered a period of over four years. During this time, it became necessary to broaden not only my understanding of what others were doing, but also substantially to modify my own approach. The cultural conflict faced by Samoan students in their learning has been defined as "wavering" or more specifically, "content wavering" which relates to students' interaction with the content of the curriculum, and "feelings wavering" which relates to socio-cultural and psychological factors. Samoan students search to overcome both forms of wavering by way of: pacifying in apprenticeship; crafting in guided participation; and ascertaining in participatory appropriation. The ways in which they cope reveal a process of "nurturing coolness and dignity", a process that those involved in education need to be aware of and utilise to help Samoans and/or Pasifika students to succeed in the New Zealand education system, particularly in classroom learning.