Ngā hononga kura-whānau e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Identifying partnership learning needs: What to think about

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In this stage of inquiry, members of a school community identify what they need to learn and do better in order to build educationally powerful partnerships between teachers, school leaders, whānau, and iwi, including all those who stand behind each individual child.

In the first instance, the focus needs to be on teachers and school leaders themselves. These are the professionals who are paid to do this work. We know that deficit theorising, which blames students themselves and their home circumstances for failures and which often misses the strengths and achievements of Māori learners, is often a barrier to Māori achievement. Among the suggestions for use at this stage of the cycle, there is a ‘deficit buster’ developed as part of the Te Mana Kōrero materials.

It is also important for whānau and community members to ask questions about both the strengths and the capabilities that they bring to the partnership and about the areas where knowing more would allow them to engage more. Whānau and community members often have knowledge of te reo and tikanga that is of inestimable value. However, the greatest contribution they can make is their knowledge of their children, including of what their children already know and how they learn.

Parents often express frustration at not knowing the language of education and how to interpret assessment information. The approach from schools has often been to try to simplify the language and do the interpretation for parents in plain English. As the case studies from Sylvia Park School and Randwick School show, an alternative approach is to empower parents with the knowledge and skills they need to interrogate the data for themselves and to use this as the basis for asking challenging questions of teachers.

Te Mana Kōrero: Relationships for Learning

Te Mana Kōrero includes ‘scenes’ that provide the perspectives of a range of experts: whānau, teachers, principals, and other educators. The quote in the table below is intended as a “taster” of some of the rich insights shared by these experts. Some of the scenes provide examples of whānau–school engagement in practice.

Scene

Example

Quote

Mātauranga Māori

Mason Durie challenges school elders and teachers to think about how their knowledge of educational theory can be integrated with mātauranga Māori.

“There’s a body of knowledge called mātauranga Māori, which is a type of indigenous knowledge, and I don’t think New Zealand really has realised the benefit of that body of knowledge …” Mason Durie

Reflective questions

  • To what extent do our current beliefs, theories, knowledge, practices, and capabilities help or hinder relationship building?
  • How well do we support whānau to share information about their children with us?
  • What steps have we taken to demystify the language of school and education (especially the use of jargon and acronyms)?
  • What do we understand by ‘mātauranga Māori’?

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