Thinking aloud: exploring assumptions about Mātauranga Māori.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
This research project calls on King Tāwhiao’s miro analogy involving pango (black), mā (white) and whero (red) and where ideas are woven together to form a whāriki (flax mat) of teaching and learning concerns for pouako (teachers) and tauira (students). I have woven the stories of myself (pango), a Pākēhā colleague (mā), and our joint conversations (whero) into a discussion about current education. The project also reviews literature about Mātauranga Māori¹ in schools. This research addresses questions about key principles that makes Mātauranga Māori effective in the classrooms, the effectiveness of the teaching systems, and the factors that effect the achievement (and under-achievement) of Māori tauira. I followed Coates’ (1991) example and wrote an autobiography that explored my early learning and my life as a scholar and as an educator. I shared my autobiographical writing with a Pākēhā pouako colleague who has had her own personal experiences in education and an upbringing in an environment which is totally different to mine. I report on some important discussions that arose when we shared our experiences with one another and talked about our views on teaching and learning systems. This research suggests that when Mātauranga Māori is effective, it has a positive impact on the engagement of all Māori and Pākēhā tauira. Schools implementing a Mātauranga Māori approach need to examine the quality of the teaching systems and relationships within their schools and also with their whānau and hāpori (community) as these will have an important impact on the tauira, involving their experiences of whanāūngatanga² (belonging). The school’s principles, values and knowledge involving personnel and student relationships will shape the kind of environment where achievement can eventually grow. According to McAdam & Lang (2003), “The school is at the heart of the future of the community. It is the schools where tauira grow in knowledge, morality, their abilities to relate to others, their concepts of community and the ability to live life to the full. It is in the schools that the future of our societies gains formation and direction” (p. 50), and it is schools that are the core of this research study. But schools are also about people, primarily tauira, pouako, and those who carry out professional roles to assist with the dynamic functions of schools. This study considers two such professionals whose cultures are different, but whose philosophies about knowledge generally and Mātauranga Māori, are compatible. FOOTNOTES: Throughout this writing I have chosen to include footnotes that explain my understanding of the terms and stories I use. This strategy allows me to ‘turn up the volume’ (see p. 18 below) of my voice. I have also used italics to identify Maori words. ¹Mātauranga Māori: Māori education programmes happening (and also not happening) especially in mainstream schools. For Mātauranga Māori to succeed in schools, there must be good understanding and commitment by everyone involved in the education process – pouako, management, governance, parents, communities and government bureaucrats. ² Whānāūngatanga system: It indicates a sense of belonging and relating to others within a context of collective identity and responsibility. It is a living entity reaching across all contexts of Māoridom (Macfarlane et al, 2007).