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

Sunday 30 September 2018

I have just finished reading “Changing the default setting: Making trouble to restore tikanga” by Ani Mikaere, a thought provoking article that highlights how colonial constructs have been superimposed over traditional tikanga practices over time, driven these to be used on the marae only and the powerful role that Christianity has had over tikanga as well, normalising concepts of dominance and subservience.

Dare I say that these practices continue in some of our early childhood centres and schools today. I was in a centre recently where there is strong Maori kaupapa but also practices that reflect past Western practices around compliance and dominance by the adults, lining up in rows according to gender, following instructions given by adults when eating with little thought about how this leads to life long learning or how these practices could be challenged in light of the rest of the curriculum.
Or am I wrong here? This could well be part of inquiry within appraisal as kaiako unpack their practice under the Standards, there is scope to challenge practice and the difference between compliance and self regulation that can be strengthened in a whanau setting where collaboration and thoughtful discussion with the underlying concept of 'ako' underpinning interactions. As Ani says “The net of kāwanatanga—of Pākehā law, of Western philosophy, of values that threaten the very core of our Māoriness—has indeed been cast wide. We cannot afford to ignore the degree to which we have become enmeshed within its strands. We need to be honest with ourselves about the extent to which tikanga has been caught up in the stranglehold of the colonising agenda. Then, and only then, might tikanga be liberated to achieve its limitless potential.

[In Te Whāriki] children are valued as active learners who choose, plan, and
challenge. This stimulates a climate of reciprocity, ‘listening’ to children (even if they cannot speak), observing how their feelings, curiosity, interest, and knowledge are engaged in their early childhood environments, and encouraging them to make a contribution to their own learning. Smith (2007)

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