Listening to what young people tell us!

Listening to what young people tell us!

At a recent keynote at Waihi College, to a full assembly hall, I was honoured to be introduced by Mikaira Wells, the Head Girl of the college and one of the impressive students I had met with during the day. With Mikaira's permission, I want to share her speech because I think it clearly articulates what students know, and what we often don't hear. 

Racism in schools? How dare we be surprised!

Racism in schools? How dare we be surprised!

After the release of the report, Education matters to me: Key insights, the issue of racism in schools was all over the news last week. Media headlines read: “Study finds ‘disturbing’ racism in NZ schools” (Newshub), “Students tell of racism in study of how they view the education system,” (Stuff) and “Māori, Pasifika kids reveal racism in schools,” (RadioNZ). Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says that the children’s comments about the racism they encounter in schools were unsolicited, and were a surprise to interviewers.

Let's SEE this!

Congratulations Labour and our new coalition government! Finally, some hope for an end, or a complete relook, to the neoliberal agenda that has crippled education in New Zealand and continued to marginalise our Māori and Pasifika learners. Words are cheap. So LET'S SEE THIS …

Seeing your Words in Pictures!

How very cool is this! My thanks to Mary Brake at Reflection Graphics for the very clever interpretation of my uLearn17 Keynote - drawn live during the presentation! I love the fence! Is that pointy finger mine? I'm amazed at how much Mary has captured! Also check out the comprehensive live blog written by Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu. Thank you Manu! I consider myself very lucky to have you both interpreting this important message!


Whose knowledge counts?

Fascinating international discussion this morning as part of a panel at the "centre table" in Teach for All's Global Learning Lab Virtual Roundtable event - "Growing Students as Leaders of a Better Future." What are the most important education outcomes for our youth... Content Skills and Knowledge, Mindsets and Dispositions, Life and Professional Skills, or Values and Purpose?  

That was a struggle for me! Which category do culture and cultural identity fit into? Are they skills and knowledge, or a mindset, or what we need for life, or are they about values, or should the development of a secure cultural identity be a major purpose of our education system? I would say YES to all those questions, but my biggest question is why do we have to "find" a place in our existing monocultural, mostly White, frameworks for culture, cultural norms, and cultural identity? Why aren't they explicit and not left to chance? While there were areas where we panel "experts" found agreement, there were plenty of places where we disagreed, and I was left hoping that this won't be more of the same, where we raise the issues, then file them in the too hard basket!

Thanks Teach for All for the invitation and the opportunity to participate. Today's roundtable was about which outcomes. Tomorrow, (Thurs 20 July in NZ) I'm at the table again, with a different panel, this time discussing how we get to those outcomes. Join in - 8.00-10.00am (NZ time) via Zoom - join the meeting with this link and jump in to the Chat as we go! Some tautoko would be great!

Also, check out the Resource Exchange on the Virtual Roundtable link above, for some great videos and resources to use in your classes and schools.

Warrior Scholars: Decolonising Education

Two years ago, international film maker, Faolan Jones, came to visit Kia Aroha College to produce a video about the school. Everyone is delighted with the result, which we are now able to show widely. Faolan has captured the work of the school, and in particular, the voice of students, former students, and staff in a way that has not been done before! It's a wide-reaching, insightful documentary that I promise, is well worth the watch! Thank you Faolan from the Kia Aroha College whānau! 

Click HERE to view the film.

Click HERE to view the film and read Faolan's blog post about it.

Inspirational Leadership!

I was privileged to speak at The MOKO Foundation's Leadership Summit at Waitangi in the weekend, and to attend the dinner the previous evening to launch the 2017 Hawea Vercoe Leadership Programme. The young people who are the 2017 recipients of these scholarships, that partner them with amazing mentors, were impressive - as were the citations of their achievements already, and their aspirations! I was even more inspired however, by their probing questions of those of us who spoke at the Summit the next day! They certainly kept us on our toes, as they should.  

Congratulations to The MOKO Foundation and everyone involved - the mentees, the mentors, the MOKO team, particularly Dr Lance O'Sullivan and CEO, Deirdre Otene. I was inspired!

Where's the $40 million for Culturally Responsive Teachers?

Two new education initiatives have hit our Inboxes this week.

On Wednesday, the Education Minister announced a major change to shift education into a "digitally oriented system," advising that the Government will spend $40 million on raising teachers' skills to deliver the new curriculum, which will involve all pupils from years one to 10 taking part in digital technologies education. I think that was news to most teachers and principals!

Yesterday, we received notice from the Education Council of the final version of the new Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession to be implemented by 1 January 2018. The title, “Our Code Our Standards” implies a collective ownership, and Educanz talks of “more than a year of consultation with people from across the profession.” Let’s not forget however, that the Council is made up of members appointed exclusively by the Government, and not elected democratically by teachers, so “our” anything is a moot point!

Racism recorded!

When someone attacks a member of your family, all your protective instincts kick in and you want to do anything in your power to take the hurt away. So it was on Wednesday when I received an email from my moko, telling me of the racist comments heard on her voicemail. You can see the full story which aired on TVNZ’s Marae programme, where my moko, Blake, is a production manager, this morning - here

The truth is, racism causes a deep, deep, generational pain that just cannot be erased, no matter how much you want to try to take it away. It was racism when my children encountered this same behaviour in school and in their workplaces, it is still racism two generations later when my grandchildren are forced to deal with it, as Blake has done this week, and it will still be racism when my great moko are confronted with it unless Pākehā New Zealand take responsibility for our actions.

Kāpiti Coast

On a wet and windy day I am off to the Kāpiti Coast to talk to three schools - Kapiti College staff tomorrow morning, and Te Ra Waldorf and Raphael House schools tomorrow evening - different schools, different philosophies, but all prepared to think differently about examining their practice to be more effective for Māori learners. Looking forward to the conversations!

A Kia Aroha College week!

A school founded on the principles of social justice and a critical culturally responsive education model..... a school centered on Maori and Pasifika youth..... a school that offers a strong sense of whānau/family...... a school that is about creating an authentic context for genuine learning...... a school where minds are being decolonized and “whiteness” being removed from any aspect of their learning experience..... a school that all schools around the globe should be learning from and modeling after.

It's always great to be back at Kia Aroha College and last week was no exception. On Monday I was working with amazing teachers, brushing up on our critical pedagogy planning for next term. I also had the chance for a brief meeting with a new group of Warrior-Researchers, students I will have the privilege of working and researching with over the next few months.  

On Wednesday I was back talking to a group of visiting USA educators from the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education at the University of Vermont, and to welcome friends from Seattle, Washington. Appreciation to Tami Farber for the wonderful quote above from her post about her visit. That's very special!

On Thursday, the last day of the term, with the threat of a Cyclone Cook in the air, I had the honour of speaking to the co-principals and teachers from Samoa Primary School, and was delighted to find like-minds, and a school determined to work against those colonising White spaces in Samoa. I'm sure they found many connections in their visit to Kia Aroha's Samoan Bilingual unit later in the day.

 Co-principals and teachers from Samoa Primary School visiting Kia Aroha College.

Co-principals and teachers from Samoa Primary School visiting Kia Aroha College.

"Teaching kids in poverty to ‘play the game’ is not enough"

They need to know how the game is rigged, how the game can be played, and how the game can be changed.

A great start to the weekend was to find an email had arrived overnight from international filmmaker, Faolan Jones, who produces powerful films from around the world for Teach for All. The first piece of news from Faolan, a couple of days ago, was to tell me the the draft of the film he made some time ago now about Kia Aroha College is almost ready. This morning's email invited me to check out his most recent Blog post, Teaching kids in poverty to ‘play the game’ is not enough, which he says, "is very much inspired by what I've learnt from you and Jeff" (Jeff Duncan-Andrade).

It's gratifying to know you have inspired anything, or anyone, but to know you have made some small contribution to such powerful and truthful writing is wonderful feedback indeed! Thank you Faolan! All school leaders and teachers need to read this.