Friday, 13 October 2017

ULearn 2017 - Day 3: Keynote speaker Ann Milne

Colouring in the white spaces - Ann Milne Phd

Schools traditionally were a tool of colonization
Kia Aroha College, Otara
280 students Y7-13, Decile 1
Learning in communities
What are schools doing for Maori?
Teach First NZ
NZ education system
20% failing students, mostly Maori and PI
Maori disenfranchised, assimilated into white culture
Generations of low expectations, outcomes
White spaces
Mainstream education - quiet, = whitestream
Identity is formed by the way that others perceive you

73% of all teachers are pakeha
Most kids that fail are Maori and Pacific Island
Who defines our community? Without our culture we have no identity
Hegemonic system that puts blame on Maori for failing when it’s the system that has failed
M & PI need to be able to relate to the learning - what is relevant to them?

Kahikitia, accelerating success
Vision: Maori learners enjoying education success and achievement as Maori
Whose knowledge matters?
Maori cultural identity has to happen all day everyday not just part time e.g. learn in blocks, can’t be timetabled

A critical culturally sustaining pedagogy of whanau
Schooling should be a site for sustaining the cultural practices of communities of colour
The rigged game of education
Important to know who you are, to be comfortable in your shoes, being confident, think universally but having a strong hold on your culture
Graham Smith (1995)
The whanau concept of: knowledge, pedagogy, discipline, curriculum
Established a whanau centre - culturally responsive interventions
Unrealised potential to unlimited potential

Personal Reflection:

This was a great keynote and I hope that it was a real eye-opener for many of the teachers who were present at ULearn. It had the potential to be quite awkward as it was criticising the history and current situation with our education system. Her presentation talked about ‘white spaces’ and how the NZ Education System still caters for the needs of mostly ‘white students’.

I agree with Ann Milne that the delivery of education for our Maori and Pacific children needs to be changed, urgently. The current system is failing too many of our ‘brown’ students, especially when they reach college. Why are so many of our Maori and PI students failing? Why are they so disengaged by the time they reach or leave college? Why are so many of them entering the workforce at such low academic levels? What is being done to address this issue of the ‘long tail’?

I agree that Maori & PI students need to be able to relate to the learning. Cultural identity is important and is not something that happens when it suits. It needs to be acknowledged, shared and celebrated. That’s why I am so proud to teach at a school where we value and celebrate the different cultures at our school.  

I think that this keynote was great because it raised awareness that this is an issue that cannot be swept under the carpet and ignored. Open discussions need to take place and needs to be encouraged from a whanau, school, community and national level. Furthermore, realistic solutions need to be created to help alleviate the problem.

The saying ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link’ reminds me that a country or society will only be strong if all members of society are treated, nurtured, strengthened, valued and recognised equally.

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