This week I will consider and reflect on indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice. Backing up from my last post I will uses Rolfe’s model of reflection as a guide

Step One – WHAT –
I am a South Island bred Pakeha. At 40 years of age I have gone through life, and the education system, without really connecting to New Zealand’s Maori culture and heritage. I do have a passion for history and studied that at High School and University. Therefore, a large part of my connection and understanding with indigenous culture has come through the study of our countries past and especially the Treaty Of Waitangi. When it comes to the language side of things I am not as confident. This has meant that a lot of the cultural engagement in my class has come through studying history rather than engaging with the language. Upon reflection I have also benefited from a Pakeha privilege that we have in New Zealand as highlighted by Bishop (2015).

I am not the only person a who has benefited from this Pakeha privilege. Bishop explains in his Edtalks video that as a society, we have made deficit excuses to why Maori have failed through schooling. Statistics clearly show that as a nation we are failing to educate Māori as Māori. To change this our education system must become culturally responsive.

Step 2 – NOW WHAT –
Culturally responsive pedagogy is a student centered approach to teaching. At its core there are two spheres. Firstly, student’s unique cultural beliefs are identified and nurtured to promote a sense of self-worth. Secondly, students identify with their cultural ‘place’ in the world. The goal is that both the student’s ‘mana’ is raised and also their achievement. 

I believe quality teaching and learning for ALL hinges on relationships. Bishop (2009) discusses the importance of whakawhanaungatanga and whanaungatanga; that is, the process of establishing relationships and the quality of the relationships that are established. Hattie (2003) also concluded that it is not socio-economic differences that have the greatest impact on Maori students achievement. He suggests that “the evidence is pointing more to the relationships between teachers and Maori students as the major issue.”

Using Milne’s presentation (CORE Education, 2017) and action continuum as a reflective tool, I would place my own kura between the light blue and dark blue stages.

The school that I work at is making strides in helping staff move along this continuum. Our school is probably held back by a lack of teachers who are fluent in Te Reo and clear understandings of Tikanga.

Personally, I have seen a huge shift in the way I educate Maori. The work our school has done has caused my to think of how culturally responsive my own teaching is. Through lesson observations and quality professional development I have definitely moved.

Step 3 – WHAT NEXT –
To move along Milne’s continuum the key area I must work on is my classroom practice. That involves challenging my own perspectives and address what kind of learning experiences that I am planning.

These learning experiences must have the following, (using Bishops 6 tips for culturally responsive pedagogy).

  • Care for all my learners vast cultural backgrounds and make an effort to know about their cultures. 
  • Use of community engagement and expertise in learning experiences
  • Allow my learners to draw on their own experiences
  • Continue to engage with community through our seesaw and encourage whanau feedback
  • Incorporate constant and timely feedback and feedforward for all learners formally and informally 
  • Expect and celebrate success of all learners 

For me the real growth for me will occur as I begin to use Te Reo Maori more in my class and as I interact with students.

1. Bishop, R., et al., Te Kotahitanga: Addressing educational disparities facing Maori students in New Zealand, Teaching and Teacher Education (2009).

2. Hattie, J. (2003). New Zealand education snapshot. Paper presented at the Knowledge Wave 2003: The leadership forum, Auckland.

3. CORE Education.(2017, 17 October). Dr Ann Milne, Colouring in the white spaces: Reclaiming cultural identity in whitestream schools..

6. Edtalks.(2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations.

7. Milne, B.A. (2013). Colouring in the white spaces: Reclaiming cultural identity in whitestream schools.