“Culture is central to learning. It plays a role not only in communicating and receiving information, but also in shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals. A pedagogy that acknowledges, responds to, and celebrates fundamental cultures offers full, equitable access to education for students from all cultures”. (1)
While writing up a paper about flipped learning, I started to think about whether flipped learning fitted into the cultural context of New Zealand and decided to have a close look at the Tataiako – the cultural competencies, which every teacher in New Zealand should be aspiring to apply to their teaching practice.
The cultural competencies should promote Maori learners to achieve educational success as Maori. There are five competencies and they are Ako, Wananga, Manaakitanga, Tangatawhenuatanga, and Whanaungatanga. They have links to the Registered Teacher Criteria and the Professional Teaching Standards, so should be well understood by New Zealand teachers. I really don’t know if they are well known or not, but every school which has subscribed to Te Kotahitanga or He Kakano would be aware of them at least.
So, as I wrote about flipped learning, (which is the concept of students watching videos at home on the content of their curriculum and coming to school to discuss, question and practice using the concepts in practical or applied ways) it was really interesting to find out that the concept of “the guide on the side, instead of the sage on the stage” was used in one of the first papers about flipping by J Wesley Baker in 2000 (3) This, to me, encapsulates what Ako is all about – taking responsibility for your own learning and that of Maori learners. In the classroom this looks like – a teacher sitting alongside a student and discussing, rather than lecturing from the front. The teacher is the guide on the side, learning from the student as well. (Reciprocal learning.)
Image (4) - reproduced from Colin Smith under Creative Commons licensing
In fact, it seems to me that each of the competencies, as I worked through them all, are really about good teaching no matter who and where you are. Wananga is the professional development and problem solving that you do to find the best outcome for the students - in fact “Teaching as Inquiry”. What suits the individual student best? Tangatawhenuatanga is about accepting who the learner is, knowing their cultural identity and allowing them to achieve within their own cultural context. Whanaungatanga is about knowing your learner’s family and their cultural context, making good respectful links with them and their culture. And Manaakitanga is about caring about the student, a mutual respect and understanding about who the student is and what their beliefs are..
I came to the conclusion that “Flipping” could be an excellent pedagogical method for teachers of Maori students as all of the competencies could be applied to create appropriate videos for Maori students or by Maori students. Guide on the side, problem solving, knowing your learners, knowing their families and connections and what works for them, and above all caring about the student and believing that they can learn and achieve.
2. Image: 'jumping to a lovely sunset'. http://www.flickr.com/photos/53991912@N00/5078531213. Found on flickrcc.net
3. Baker, JW. "The “classroom flip”. Using web course management tools to become the guide on the side." 11th international conference on college teaching and learning, Jacksonville, FL 2000.
Leigh Hynes: I have been been teaching and learning from secondary students for 33 years (Science, Maths and Horticulture), and have been assistant principal at a rural school for the last ten years. An interest in e-learning grew out of the school’s involvement in an ICT cluster, the Volcanics Cluster, which used videoconferencing networks with the rest of New Zealand to provide online courses for rural students. With a forward-thinking e-principal of the cluster providing access to professional development with some of the world leaders in e-learning, this was the hook that reeled me into the digital world. In 2012, I was awarded a senior managers’ 10 week sabbatical during which I studied eportfolios in different school contexts. During the 10 week period I also travelled to USA where I learnt much from “flipped” teachers and e-school administrators. With so many advantages and so much potential in the new paradigm of learning, it has surprised me how slowly some teachers and schools in New Zealand have moved toward blended learning. Trialling different strategies is the essence of teaching as inquiry cycle and it almost seems that many are afraid of this. I am a great believer in the power of belonging to and participating in on-learning communities, where your ideas can take root and blossom. Subscribing to interesting articles with an RSS reader and using Diigo as a social bookmarker with which you can share so much, are also part of my arsenal of learning weapons. In 2013, I am working with the University of Waikato as a blended learning facilitator under a Te Toi Tupu consortium contract to the MOE.
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