Gabriel's Wellbeing

Carol Marks, Professional Learning Facilitator, Educational Leadership Project, New Zealand

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Our Code, Our Standards states “We recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a
founding document of our nation. As teachers, we are committed to honouring Te Tiriti o
Waitangi and we understand this has implications in all of our practice.

This is what Te Whāriki says about the Treaty i -“Te Tiriti | the Treaty has implications for our education system, particularly in terms of achieving equitable outcomes for Māori and ensuring that te reo Māori not only survives but thrives. Early childhood education has a crucial role to play here, by providing mokopuna with culturally responsive environments that support their learning and by ensuring that they are provided with equitable opportunities to learn. The importance of such provision is underscored throughout Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum.

Ka Hikitia is another document that guides us in our practice.It offers  schools and teachers practical applications of core principles that provide  a foundation for culturally responsive practice. Ka Hikitia means "to step up, to lift up or to lengthen one,s stride. It means stepping up how the education system performs to ensure Maori students are enjoying and achieving education success as Maori.This strategy acknowledges the importance that values, identity,  language, and culture play  in a Maori learner's education' The five guiding principles of this strategy are The Treaty of waitangi; Maori potential approach; Ako-a two-way teaching and learning  process; identity' language and culture count; and productive partnerships.

Working with a policy framework like Ka Hikitia runs the risk of becoming a new compliance requirement rather than a broad commitment to improve education for Maori learners and if we are to make a committed difference to the learning outcomes for Maori then it is our attitudes,thinking and behaviours that must change so this framework will be effective.

I was reading a learning story this morning at a centre where teachers have reflected on the pedagogy that impacts on the happiness and learning for their Maori tamariki. This story was about Gabriel’s taonga, a beautiful book about the story of his journey as a premature baby along with photos of his whanau.

Embedded in this story were the words Whanau where life begins and Aroha (love) never ends. This story within his portfolio will add to such a meaningful learning journey that will strengthen the image he will have of himself as a learner and as a person,  a child deeply loved by his whanau and having this taonga also treasured by his teachers. It is also an example of Tīkanga whakaako: Learning and teaching within a Māori context  based on whanaungatanga and nurturing the child, the soul , within a Maori context and strengthening the relationship between Gabriel and his whanau in such a meaningful way. It also is a lovely example of the principle of Family and Community underpinning the curriculum.

The wider world of family and community is an integral part of early childhood curriculum

Me whiri mai te whānau, te hapū, te iwi, me tauiwi, me ō rātou wāhi nohonga, ki roto i te whāriki, hei āwhina, hei tautoko i te akoranga, i te whakatipuranga o te mokopuna

This learner identity can strengthen in many ways and as Nathan Mikaere Wallis reminds us, this is the important learning for children up until the age of seven.

For more blog posts from Carol Marks please click here.