Masters Sprints 1-4

Sprint 1 Me and My Master’s Journey 

“We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.” – Stephen Downes

We started our Masters in Contemporary Education with an examination of the difference between self-directed learners (andragogy), and self-determined (heutagogy) learners. Self directed learners work well when guided by an instructor. They take responsibility for diagnosing their own learning needs, by identifying the necessary resources. Self-determined learners take initiative, formulate goals and problem-solve.

But the biggest difference between the two modes of learning is this: self-determined learners incorporate double-loop reflection. This is the step that I have consciously instilled in my studies, and what I would like to foster with my own students.

Sprint 2 Futures of Learning

In this sprint we examined the future of education, with some fascinating readings. The Ministry has shared their vision for education over the next 10 years (Korero Mātauranga). The 5 main objectives are:

  1. Learners at the centre: accepted, respected, valued, belong
  2. Barrier free access to education
  3. Quality teaching and leadership: diverse, skilled, well qualified workforce
  4. Future of learning and work: relevant, learning dispositions
  5. World-class inclusive public education: trusted and sustainable, adaptive and innovative, respected NZ research

The goal is that education supports wellbeing. Individuals can grow, learn and excel. Learners contribute to a thriving community and collectively build a sustainable economy. And, Te Tiriti is honoured

Sprint 3 Examining Culturally Responsive Practices

To be culturally responsive is to recognise and appreciate one’s own culture, while developing empathy and fluency in another culture, in order to thrive in an interconnected world. The process of developing cultural responsiveness is a complex one, and differs somewhat depending on context. However, in Aotearoa, New Zealand, a universal foundation exists, and that is that we are officially a bicultural nation, and as such we have a moral obligation to protect te reo and tikanga Māori. Secondary to that, we need to respond to the increasingly culturally diverse world. And thus the process becomes iterative and context specific, underpinned by our rich cultural history. Culturally responsive practice requires us to develop positive relationships, for it is through relationships that we get to really understand each other, which in turn informs our practice. Informed practice influences how we cope beyond the bicultural classroom, and into the culturally diverse classroom.

Research shows that for teachers to be successful for ākonga Māori they should focus on these fundamentals:

  1. Avoid deficit attitudes: show fairness; friendliness; humour
  2. Use collective language: high expectations; praise positive behaviour
  3. Be positive and optimistic: confident with problem solving approaches
  4. Share power, rather than over-power students

It would help if we employed these strategies with all students, and in particular our priority students.

Sprint 4 Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy

It is not enough to have culturally responsive practice based solely on positive relationships. Te Tiriti o Waitangi informs us of a moral and ethical obligation to uphold and protect our rich cultural heritage. The treaty is what makes New Zealand unique (Riki-Waaka, 2017). But, we are not only officially a bicultural society, we are also a multi-cultural society with a growing population. Education practice has to provide “inclusive, equitable and connected” learning for all students, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religious background (Ministry of Education, 2019).

In order to create informed practice in a diverse classroom, teachers need to place students at the centre. This means that students know that they are accepted, respected and valued. According to the Ministry of Education’s objectives, students need to have a voice and choice in how they learn by providing a high quality educational environment (Ministry of Education, 2019, p.5). In this way, students can learn, grow, contribute and excel. “Education has to be about learning to thrive in a transforming world” (Hannon, 2020). Thus it seems that the idea of culture is even more multifaceted than research has led us to believe.

The greatest challenge appears to be the fine line we tread between protecting, upholding and sustaining our bicultural heritage, while simultaneously acknowledging the vast array of additional cultures and subcultures present in the New Zealand classroom. However Janelle Riki-Waaka (2017) puts matters into perspective. She said that, although all children have the right to see their culture reflected at school, it is vital that the Māori culture be reflected in every school, because if we do not protect te reo and tikanga Māori, no one else will. Māori culture is unique to New Zealand and as such must be sustained. The conclusion is that for teaching practice to be properly informed, teachers need to get to know their students by building a relationship with them. They need to inform students on the nuances of both official cultures, while identifying, upholding and respecting the less dominant cultures (Council, E. Ministry of Education, 2011, p.4).

UNESCO’s Guidelines on Intercultural Education (2004) sums it up as follows: Learning to be; learning to know; learning to do and learning to live together.

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