The last official week of the program has passed. It started on Monday with an awards ceremony at Parliament; NZ Ministry of Education officials and the US Ambassador spoke. It ended with the Distinguished Awards in Teaching final presentations to a small group at Victoria University on Friday. In good form, I then took four days to hike the Heaphy track, a NZ Great Walk on the West Coast of the South Island. Just short of forty miles with very nice hut accommodations along the way. Highlights included long suspension bridges, cool shells, big trees, more than five distinct ecosystems, Maori heritage sights, and amazing flight seeing on the way to and from.
If you are interested in the report on my research on what Pasifika students in New Zealand think will make the school library better for them, it is below. The report was shared with school librarians in New Zealand, Fulbright NZ and USA, the National Library Services to Schools New Zealand, and will be written up in a few low key international library newsletters/journals.
If you are interested in the full final report I wrote for Fulbright USA you can check that out below. It has some repetition, but is more reflective than data driven. It is the evidence I submitted, based on their template, to show the worth of the program and investment for me personally.
I am next headed to Australia for the month of July and then back home to Anchorage. I will take a break from posting until next fall, after school starts. My intention is to keep the blog going as I implement the ideas I am bringing back into my own school library.
Since I finished my research project and report writing, I took a week to go to American Samoa; where many of the families at my school come from. As it turns out, it was not so easy to get to American Samoa from New Zealand. I had to overnight on each end in Apia, Samoa before flying over on a small plane, a 20 minute flight.
There is definitely a different way of being here. The streets have no names, and I confused small village roads with driveways frequently. The speed limit is 25, so everything moves slowly - it is hot and humid all year. Asking for directions was enlightening - it seems that all the senses are used in the understanding of place. See the map above - after driving it several times I think each curve is an accurate portrayal of the coastline and road. At one point I was told to roll down my windows, when I could smell fumes it meant I was at the right spot.
I met with Justin at the Feleti Barstwo Library (https://www.americansamoa.gov/feleti-barstow-public-library) and we talked about very important things, like how the Pacific is really the center of the world (Earth). We do not need more maps that always cut the Pacific in half, lets just cut Europe and Asia down the middle instead. He shared information about his strong summer reading program, the community after school activities, the Pacific Island collection, and the remarkable photograph archiving project, which by the pictures below you can tell is a large endeavor. Photos from estates are being given to the library to the extent that the processing and digitizing has taken over the conference room. I shared the results of my research project in New Zealand. I hope that we will be able to work together and connect students from our two libraries in the future.
I also met with Bessie at the Department of Education Library Services office. They were just finishing up processing a large book order. And - they had a line of old Mac desktops waiting to be surplussed, just like at home.
On the main road through Tafuna there is a large storefront with the sign The Shoe Tree in large letters. Every time I passed it for the first few days I wondered why? The only people I saw wearing shoes were the Starkist Tuna Processing Plant workers I passed while they were on a break. Everyone else wore flip flops, simple sandals, or nothing. Then, on my last day I figured it out. It was for graduation! I was sitting on the side of the hall with the young men, and under those green gowns they were almost all sporting, what looked like, new or hardly worn sports shoes. Apparently, flip flops are discouraged as graduation attire. Under the gowns they all wore matching white faitagas and green shirts.
I happen to be there during graduation week. This is a big deal. There are six high schools on the island, so they spread out the ceremonies all week. There are signs everywhere, balloons, truck beds full of happy students, and traffic jams.
While in Zealand I have been reflecting on what it means to live in a culture with a communal frame. I have mostly been thinking about how to bring communal ways of learning and processing information into the library, but also more generally.
I can think of heritage stories based on communal practices, but trying to see what it means in a contemporary setting is harder. When I attended this graduation ceremony in American Samoa there were many things going on, implicitly, that either support communal practices or are evidence of them.
There was no “superstar” graduate speaking as the valedictorian: all the speakers were adults. Instead, the graduating class sang together, all 140 of them. Not just once, but four times - plus a short body percussion piece. There was one solo, but she did not even stand on the stage. A student did stand up and lead the class as they sang.
When it was time for the students to go up individually and get their diplomas, another group of students came forward and surrounded them. The national honor society students, all dressed in blue uniforms created a circle around the graduates while sitting on the ground. I know that sitting below an elder is a way of honoring him/her. Perhaps this is what they were doing.
Even as the students had their individual names called, they did not stop for an individual moment on stage. The students sat with the boys on one side and the girls on the other side. One boy was called then a girl was called, so entered the stage from opposite sides. After they each got their diploma and shook hands with officials they joined on the stage and left together - side-by-side. The two clearly had an opportunity to individualize this stage greeting. Some just gave a fist bump before leaving the stage while others did a brief, clearly rehearsed, gesture. The last five or so boys had no girls left to greet. They all waited on stage for the last one, did a cheer together, and left the stage together.
The write up in the program about the valedictorian started with orienting herself in the context of the community supporting her.
Born on (date), (name) is the daughter of (mother) of (village), American Samoa, and (father) of (village), Samoa. She is the middle child of three, with an older sister and younger brother, both of whom are also devoted to education, a testament to the values instilled in them by their parents. (Name) is a devout member of the (church) in (village), under the spiritual guidance of (pastor’s name). In the early years of her educational quest, she attended (preschool) and completed her elementary education at (school).
Only after this introduction, did the write up include information about her accomplishments in high school that earned her the title.
The ceremony ended with the graduates saying a prayer of gratitude to their parents, families, and teachers who helped them along the way.
All of this does not mean that individual acknowledgments were not given, because they were. Those with college plans, military enlistments, and scholarships were all listed out loud. In the program it even listed those with SAT scores over 1000, ACT scores over 19, and the student with the highest ASVAB score.
The principals printed words in the program stated: ". . . we are inordinately proud of you all! We trust you are ready, willing, and more than able to grasp the torch that we bestow upon you . . "
The principals last words were something about the students’ achievements reflecting on their families. The last graduation I went to at home, had many more message about being yourself, doing great things, and following your dreams. These are all very individualistic messages. The message here was one of confidence and honor - that you are ready to go out in the world because you remain part of a whole. Your value is in that role, not any single amazing thing you might achieve.
For me the message to not let your family down and that everything you do reflects on them sounds like a lot pressure. But, I know one of my sons would say that the constant message to be passionate, find a dream, and find your own way is a lot of pressure.
Perhaps I am reading into all way too much, but it was an interesting comparison.
Next week I go into my final presentations in New Zealand. I will post about how they went and copies of written work.
May went by quickly as I traveled for the research section of my project. Now I am back in Wellington looking at piles of sticky notes, student drawings, and transcribed quotes. Thank goodness I did not actual record the groups as planned, or I would also be lost in hours of recordings as well.
Overall, the students are more concerned with what they can do in the library and how it feels as a space than they are about the items they can check out from the library. They clearly expressed the desire for a comfortable space that they can use to relax and "chill" as a break from the larger demands of school. In terms of the librarian, they are more concerned with "people skills" than reading or book skills.
As I analyse and look for patterns in the results, a few outliers were interesting and fun. When asked what they (the secondary students in the group) want to be able to do in the library, one answered:
I want to go there when I can not be bothered to go to class.
When a group of primary students were asked to expand their imagination and think of things they would want to do in the library, not just what they can already do. They came up with:
Eating under the tables
A trampoline in the floor
A roof terrace to jump off of onto the trampoline
Two lighted tunnels for racing games
Unlimited access to all scary rated M video games
Some of the students put out high expectation for the librarian. They thought the librarian should be:
Artistic, Creative, Interesting, and Crafty
A Good speller
Heartfelt and Loving
Passionate about the library
A bonus to visiting schools was finding a particular primary site that felt like home. It was a similar size to my home school and had the same warm and family like feel that we capture on our best days: staff were talking with students and helping them in a loving way. It was by no means perfect. I observed staff calmly helping students deescalate, tutors encouraging reluctant learners, free food being distributed, and teachers supporting each other. As the librarian said, "We have issues, but the school is approaching them in the right way. We are trying to get students ready to learn."
These are some of the in the bathroom stall messages.
There was no single amazing story to tell about the school. Just altogether it stood out as a special place.
I went into the Fulbright experience wanting to expand my understanding of culture as it relates to identity and education. I intended to apply this understanding to the creation of the school library as a cultural space, one that supports the many ways of learning, knowing, and making meaning that exist within linguistically and culturally diverse student populations. Looking at these concepts in the New Zealand context was relevant to my work in Anchorage, Alaska because of several similarities: the demographics of the students, the lingering impact of colonization, and the struggle of schools to provide a successful education for minoritized youth.
So far I have been mostly reading, listening, and thinking about the theoretical and research supported foundation for practice. Specifically, I have been collecting ideas, strategies, and models for:
Based on this learning, and a new critical eye toward the need for decolonizing research methodologies, I developed a site-based inquiry project as the next step.
I developed a process tool for collecting data directly from students about how they see the library meeting them. I invited Pasifika students at five New Zealand Schools to participate in a focus group: together, we will design a library, including physical space, collection, services, events, and staff qualities. The result will be titled: The Library for Pasifika Students: What Do They Want?
I start on it this week in Auckland!
This process started with changing my original ideas for research based on the reality in New Zealand, a closer look at research methodology, and the need to get ethics approval from Victoria University.
Decolonizing methodology shares the position of power between the researcher and the participants by critically acknowledging the assumptions, beliefs, and system of knowing that underlies the research process. It is characterized by a focus on reciprocity, transparency, and relationship. Victoria University favors this approach to research.
New Zealand school libraries - a different context. Many primary schools have minimal library space and programs. Intermediate and senior school libraries tend to be focused strictly on getting kids to read, and librarian positions are filled with para-professionals. Many of the roles played by school libraries in the USA are covered by different aspects of education in New Zealand: the classroom curriculum allows for more teacher autonomy and the inclusion of project based work, while the National Library provides direct loaning of curriculum related materials. Due to the different contexts, my original plan of interviewing teachers and librarians about the culturally sustaining strategies and model they use in the school library was no longer relevant.
A lively conversation with a principal during one of my initial school visits in Auckland sparked an idea for my project. The school was in the process of planning a new library space and eager for new ideas to foster student and family engagement. With the guidance of Linda Hogg, my University of Victoria adviser, I developed a research project entitled--What Makes a Good Library for Pasifika Students. The project involved conducting structured focus groups with students to document their own voices about what would make the library space, collection, services, and staff “better” for them as users. The project was further refined as it went through the Victoria University Ethics approval process and identified five specific school sites, representing all three urban areas, to conduct the focus groups. It was clear that the data collected could be of use to the individual schools, but it was less clear how relevant this data from Pacific Islanders in New Zealand would be to the many American Samoan students at my home school. Bridging this potential gap is the idea that the focus group process developed can be replicated with any unique user group to gather data on their preferences and needs regarding information access.
I packed up all my supplies in Wellington for the flight to Auckland - a whole suitcase.
Wish me luck!
A side note about Pacific Islanders that immigrate to New Zealand - in numbers:
Total population demographic numbers based on 2103 census (last published):
74 % European
14.9 % Maori
11.8 % Asian
7.3 % One or more Pacific Island Ethnic Groups (Pasifika)
48.7 % Samoan (former Western Samoa)
20.9 % Cook Island Maori
20.4 % Tongan
8.1 % Niuean
46.1 % Pacific Island People in New Zealand are under 20 years old
92.9 % Live in the North Island
62.3 % Born in New Zealand
65.9 % Live in Auckland
12.2 % Live in Wellington Region
Growing both in total number and proportion of the population
Anticipated that by 2016 will be 10% of population
Almost two thirds of Pacific People are born in New Zealand
Felt like I was back in Anchorage at an early Tuesday morning staff meeting with Mr. Webb when the speaker, representing the Ministry of Education, started with some basic questions:
Who is teaching?
Who are we teaching?
Why are we teaching?
Only this was a very polished and professionally organized conference for primary teachers in New Zealand instead of my library at home. The attendees were giving up the first two days of the two week Easter/term break to be there, and many had traveled with colleagues from more rural areas of new Zealand. The schedule and pace were calm and allowed for collaboration time and processing. It did not feel like a race to cram in as much information as possible, which is how I feel so often at PD. Check out the morning "tea" and afternoon "tea." All food was catered in order to keep folks on site for chatting.
The Associate Minister for Education and Minister for Children continued to talk about the Prime Minister’s well-being initiative and the need for a national conversation about how we define success - it must include confidence, belonging, well-being. She acknowledged that success is different and diverse for each learner. Some current ministry initiatives were also touched on:
When she allowed ample time for questions form the audience an emotional plea and demand for reality came through - the same one I think that would come if this session occurred in Anchorage - These ideas all are great, mostly, but what about the reality in the classroom. We, teachers, are being asked to deal with more behavior issues with less support. Even if you create a system of support staff, there is no one to take the jobs at the pay being offered.
The overall tone of the this first day keynote address was positive and level. It was similar to what I have seen while in New Zealand - the image of a progressive, inclusive, steady, and deeply fair culture.
The keynote speaker on the second day was different. When I first heard of Ann Milne and listened to a talk by her on YouTube my first response was: “Finally, someone with some fire talking about the real issues in education here.” She is an outspoken advocate for social justice with a plan and results of that plan after twenty plus years of work, the Kia Aroha College in South Auckland.
The school, which is based on Paris and Alim’s theory of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy, judges its graduates, which they call warrior scholars, on three equally weighted lenses. They include academic achievement, empowered identity development, and action for social change. Based out of the school’s own cultural communities, they have created a rubric of sorts that is used to measure the security of a student’s cultural identity; one specifically for Maori students and one for Pasifika students (Who together make up most of the students.) There is a third generic measure for other students. Maori and Pasifika cultural practices are not represented exclusively in after school clubs, but are a part of everyday assignments and school climate. Oral and communal practices are fully incorporated. In terms of the social action criteria, students are taught to take a critical stance to all knowledge and practices, including those of their own culture.
She spoke more of the general process of decolonization that needs to take place in order for social justice to occur. She directly called out the Ministry of Education, who funds most PD, for not offering enough support for culturally responsive practices in their professional development offerings. (In the NZ system the national level has more involvement in schools. There is no state level or district level, just the federal and individual school, each of which has its own board) Some slides below show her work, along with a link to a talk.
These two keynotes were the two sides of education reform here that I value. On one hand, nicety. Positive understanding of human dignity and the need to address issues at their cause with level headed planning. And on the other hand, direct challenge to the status quo with demands for a complete paradigm shift. They were both here at this same conference, running parallel, but not really crossing. An example of the difference between bicultural and multicultural.
Not spoken anywhere were the statistics that we always like to quote in the USA. The alarmingly high child abuse and teen suicide rates in New Zealand, particularly the rate of young child death at the hands of abusive parents. The startling education achievement disparity between students of Maori and Pasifika (a term which combines Samoan, Tongan and other Pacific Islanders who have migrated to NZ) decent to those of European decent.
I have heard the word passive, even passive aggressive, used to describe the Kiwi culture from expat Americans, Pakeha (White New Zealanders), and Maori individuals. The world and New Zealand seemed shocked at the Christchurch shooting, that it happened here, but the word on the street was not. There was an acknowledgment that there is a lot of racism. One of my professors stated that we must know be “alive” to it. We can not brush it aside any longer. I get to listen to undergraduate students in the teacher prep program talk about and reflect on their educational experience growing up in New Zealand. The gap between intentions, policies, theory, and everyday implementation creates the same challenges here as everywhere. Work for social justice is the same.
My favorite random quote from the conference. The presenter was talking about the challenge to get students to engage and share their own thinking. She stated, “I often find myself telling student -
“We are not playing the game - What’s in the teacher’s head.”
I saw this quote on the board behind the desk of a school librarian I visited recently in Christchurch. The quote fit many aspects of the unique situation at that location. The high school had land and wanted a new library, but they had no money to build it. The city wanted to put a branch library in the neighborhood and had the money to build the library, but no land to build it on. They partnered to create a shared library, purpose built for the situation. When visiting it during the school day, it was cool to see the students along side the community members using the space. It is staffed with both city and school librarians.
Tūranga (Central Library) in Christchurch
The Christchurch City web page states:
"Tūranga fosters life-long learning and is the place for information, inspiration and entertainment."
As part of rebuilding the central business district in Christchurch after the 2010 earthquake, the new central library was built. There was controversy over the cost and investment made, but the result was a visionary process and product. Seeing it has been on the top of my to-do list in New Zealand since I first heard about it. I new the architecture would be amazing, but I was surprised at the whole package.
For starters, they reorganized the traditional categories of the library. The first floor, Connection, honors the Maori value of welcome, hosting, and building connections before jumping into the work of it. There is a full cafe, high demand items like DVDs, the magazines that people just needing a warm spot often frequent, spaces for games, and new books.
The ground floor also has a section for a rotating, interactive, museum like exhibit. When I was there the exhibit was on technology past and present. Industry folks were sponsoring and supporting the exhibit with staff.
The first floor, community, is a lot about families and children. It has another cafe that is open to the whole area, interesting spaces for small groups to meet, traditional children's stacks, and activity sections.
The second floor, identity, is all about individual and cultural knowledge. It has the Maori and Pasifika collections, ancestry research section, and interesting spaces for meeting and studying.
The third floor, discovery, has much of the typical nonfiction section, except the cultural pieces that were on the second floor and the engineering pieces that will be on the next floor. The spaces for patrons become more individual and quiet oriented. The fourth floor, creativity, again becomes more group oriented with a makerspace lab, computer room, and other digital tool access points.
Tūranga has expanded what a library can be. It is beyond access to information - but embraces the power that the information brings. I appreciate the organization being more in line with aspects of healthy human development:
It comes from the bottom up, with one being the foundation for the next.
This post is all text. I am working on a graphic to represent the ideas, but hopefully your comments can help me formulate it. As part of my inquiry project I am doing a literature/knowledge review on the changing concepts of culture and how it relates to education. It is part traditional review of "scholarly" journal articles and lectures by published professors, but it also includes other ways of knowing, such as conversation, casual talks, observation, and storytelling. Please comment on the ideas- to add to the knowledge!
Culture is Complex, Deep, and Dynamic
The current discourse on culture has pushed beyond the narrow definition of culture used in the past, when I did my initial teacher training in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then, the focus was on what would now be considered superficial aspects of culture (food, music, arts) recognized through token acts of inclusion. The intentions of educators was not to trivialize culture, but we simply did not know better. Now, in 2019, the definition of culture has expanded to include ancestry, shared historical experiences, ways of making meaning, and social norms. Culture is the frame or lens we use to perceive the world around us, and thus it is in a constant state of transformation. Hammond (2015) refers to culture distinctly as the software of our brains. Where as Ladson-Billings, the author of culturally relevant pedagogy, draws from anthropology for a lengthy definition:
I have a deep sense of what is meant by the term culture. It involves every aspect of human endeavor, including thought, perceptions, feelings, and attitudes. It is not merely the visible and tangible components of a community such as artifacts, foods, and customs, although those things are indeed a part of of culture. However, it is important to emphasize the dynamic and fluid nature of culture that is much more than lists of “central tendencies” or worse, “cultural stereotypes.” From an anthropological perspective, culture encompasses worldview, thought patterns, epistemological stances, ethics, and ways of being along with the tangible and readily identifiable components of human groups (Ladson-Billings, 2017, p. 143).
In the past, the concept of culture was too limiting to be informative in a real way for education: it was limited to concrete artifacts and visible practices from a past ethnic heritage or nationality. Currently, Jameson (2007) warns against prioritizing nationality in defining culture. This narrow and simplistic view of culture leads to narrow and simplistic views of learning (Paris, 2017). Now, the concept of culture is almost too broad to be helpful in the context of education: it includes pretty much everything a people sees, hears, does, feels and thinks - in the past, present, and future - in relation to experiences created by themselves and done to them through history.
What is the helpful lesson for education in this exercise of defining culture, an exercise that I witnessed both undergraduate and postgraduate students be guided through while observing classes at Victoria University Wellington? For me, the lesson is to always remember, appreciate, and honor that culture is complex, deep, and dynamic. It is complex because it is made up of many different parts and these parts are interwoven in complicated ways. The intricate nature of these connections makes culture a complex (noun) in itself. There is a Maori cultural complex layered on a Pasifika cultural complex layered on a Pakiha cultural complex, layered on an Asian cultural complex to create the New Zealand cultural complex as a whole.
The second helpful lesson is that culture is deep. It is beyond what you can see and measure easily. Beliefs, values, ways of making meaning, feelings, implicit social norms, nuances, and more are what give culture its power. Even if I do not know them all or understand them all, I can always be aware that these deeper aspects of culture are at play in every social interaction be it at school or not.
Thirdly, culture is dynamic. Long practiced cultural patterns and norms are only a starting point. From here history happens and influences how a culture changes and adapts. This is true for dominant cultures in homelands who are adjusting to political, economic, climate, and geographic realities; peoples that have had their cultural knowledge, skills, and practices decimated by colonialism and slavery; and peoples of a diasporas who are living outside their homeland by choice as immigrants or as by necessity as refugees. A modern youth culture is an additional and valid complex to layer on top.
Culture responsive practices is not something to understand and be “done with” or get, apply, and move on. Culture is something to continually be in awe at and hold with reverence. It is like the wise, unseen forces in the room that are constantly shifting. Dominguez (2017) suggests that teachers need to engage in epistemic travel in order to go beyond “using culture as a bridge.” We need to shift our cultural understanding, capacity, and flexibility in order to meet the cultures in our classrooms on their own terms.
Categorizing Culture for the Sake of Education
In a highly linguistically and culturally diverse population or school it is unrealistic to think a teacher can hold deep and complex cultural knowledge about each individual culture represented in the classroom. Hammond (2015) suggests looking at patterns across cultures, or archetypes, instead. She focuses on two continuum: individualistic/collective and written/oral. Placing individual cultures, or pieces of individual cultures, on these continuum is problematic because it requires a narrowing and drawing of lines around a culture which can lead to further stereotyping and misunderstanding. In spite of this, the construct of the archetypes can be helpful in the educational setting.
As a librarian I am working in a physical space that was originally designed within a culture that is written and individualistic. The traditional model of the library is based on books, reading, and independent study. Thus, you are quiet in the library in order to learn. If the cultural identity of the students include oral and collective practices as a way of creating meaning and learning, how can they use this library space? How as an educator, can I include not only opportunities for collective and oral learning, which requires talking, but make these practices and ways of knowing fully accepted and integrated into the library? Can written text and oral storytelling be side by side as equally valued and present formats and sources of information? Can the product of students working together, with the the stronger openly and warmly helping the weaker, be accepted as legitimate evidence of learning for all?
In putting forward these two archetypes, Hammond (2015) is not fully capturing another important aspect of culture that researchers of indigenous pedagogies hold as central, relationality (Holmes, 2017) . It can be argued that forming relationships is part of collective cultural frameworks, but it is also much more. It is more than cooperation, sharing, humility, and a focus on the whole as she sites is prevalent in African-American and Hispanic cultures. Holmes (2017) describes relationality as, “Coming to know oneself through the contextual constellation of relationships” (p. 218). These relationships include, “human and other-than-human relatives” (p. 219) in addition to a physical place on earth and relationship of that place within the universe. This relational context is seen in the Maori mihi, which is an introduction that includes more than a person’s name but also his/her family, ancestors, tribe, and land. I have experienced similar references being made in Yupik (South Western Alaska indigenous group) introductions.
Hammond (2015) talks further of meeting students on the continuum close enough to their cultural framework so as not to trigger an emotional response of fear and defense which impedes learning. Such as a student with a collective perspective being put on the spot for individualistic performance. Or, a student’s advanced ability to learn from oral narratives and express themselves orally not being valued as a legitimate evidence of learning or information processing tool in favor of text, paper, and pencil. Holmes (2017) adds that awareness of relationality is needed to build trust and provide the context necessary for some students to make meaning out of what is presented.
Nigerian Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2007) speaks about needing more than one story to understand a place, culture, or people. This is a simple metaphor for understanding the complexity of culture. It is made up of more than one story. It includes the story of the geographical place, the history, significant events and shared experiences (such as immigration, colonization, war, natural disaster), traditional knowledge, the evolution of that traditional knowledge.
Works Cited (needs some cleaning up, but info is there)
Adichi, C. H. (2009). The danger of a single story (video file). Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.
Banks, W. (2006). Improving race relations in schools: From theory and research to practice. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 62, No. 3, 2006, pp. 607--614.
Dominguez, M. (2017). “Se hace puentes al andar”: Decolonizing teacher education as a needed bridge to culturally sustaining and revitalizing pedagogies. In Culturally sustaining pedagogies (pp.141-156). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Hall, S. (1994). ‘Cultural identity and diaspora’ from Williams, P. and Chrisman, L. ‘Colonial discourse and post-colonial theory: A reader pp 227-237, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Hammond, Z., & Jackson, Y. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students.
Holmes, A., & Gonzalez, N. (2015). Finding sustenance: An indigenous relational pedagogy. In Culturally sustaining pedagogies (pp.141-156). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Jameson, D. (2007). Reconceptualizing cultural identity and its role in intercultural business communication. Journal of Business Communication. Vol. 44, No. 3, July 2007, pp. 199-235.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2015). The (r)evolution will not be standardized: teacher education, hip hop pedagogy, and culturally relevant pedagogy 2.0. In Culturally sustaining pedagogies (pp.141-156). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Lee, S. & Walsh D. (2017). Socially just, cultually sustaining pedagogy for diverse immigrant youth: Possibilities, challenges, and directions. In Culturally sustaining pedagogies (pp.141-156). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Milo-Schaaf, K. and Robinson, E. (2010) ‘‘Polycultural’ capital and educational achievement among NZ-born pacific people’, MAI Review, 1.
Moore, A. M. and Barker, G. G. (2012) ‘Confused or multicultural: Third culture individuals’ cultural identity’. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36(4), pp. 553–562. doi: 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.11.002.
Rimoni, F., Rimoni (no date) ‘Tama Samoa: Exploring identities in Secondary school’, New Zealand Annual Review of Education, pp. 122–221. doi: doi.org/10.26686,nzaroe.v22i0.4151.
San Pedro, T. (2017). “This stuff interests me” Re-centering indigenous paradigms in colonizing schooling spaces. In Paris, D. & Alim, H. (2017). Culturally sustaining pedagogies.
Taylor, Donald M.Kachanoff, Frank J. (no date) ‘Managing cultural diversity without a clearly defined cultural identity: The ultimate challenge’, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 21(4), pp. 546–559. Available at: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1733934004/fulltextPDF/BC3AFA43EE2840F1PQ/7?acc ountid=14782.
This is unrelated to the post, but it is the best image I have seen posted around town to express sorrow over the events in Christchurch. It is is impressive the amount of visual support that is out there, and continues to to be out there.
Relationships. It is a current word/concept of education. Building relationships with students comes up as a strategy in practices ranging from trauma informed, engagement, discipline, motivation, and culturally responsive. My mother is a primary teacher turned family therapist. At the beginning of her career I am sure she felt the importance of relationships with students without it being an explicit instructional strategy. Whereas today, as a therapist, she can find the data to support the importance of relationships in personal growth and health. Is the need to explicitly put relationships back in the forefront of practices a response to the push in American education toward curriculum driven practices, testing practices, and earlier introduction of academics? It is a good reminder that although data is good, and educational research is good, and planning is good - education is still an endeavor among individual people.
In New Zealand, my understanding of relationship has changed - broadened. Part of my academic study is on concepts of culture and cultural identity, including the role of place and heritage in identity. Also, including how shared experiences such as colonization, immigration, and war can impact a groups sense of identity. Also, including how family dynamics, youth culture, education, and travel can impact an individual's sense of cultural identity. What I am learning is that the layers of culture are extensive and unique to each individual.
In the USA it is normal to introduce yourself to a group with your name, profession, educational credentials, or work history. The focus is on your own life experience and relationship to institutions, agencies, or companies. The Maori have a practice of introduction, to a group or meeting, that focus on relationships to people and land. The sense of who a person is and thus their credibility goes deeper than their own life experience and current affiliations. The individual exists in the context of their relationships.
This introduction, called a mihi, may include things like where they are from, ancestry, and genealogy. They may go further to include whakapapa, which the University of Otago defines as:
While whakapapa is about the recitation of genealogy – lineage or ancestry – it also literally means to ‘place in layers’ or ‘create a base’. It places our people in a wider context, linking us to a common ancestor, our ancestral land, our waterways and our tribal (and sub-tribal) groupings. Hence, the literal translation fits with the broader meaning of ancestry and the expansive nature of its ‘layers’.
In a Maori course I recently took I had an assignment to create my own mihi based on a template, similar to that in the video. It was interesting for me to think how to translate the items into my context, particularly the place and ancestry. For white folks in the US I think family immigration stories play a role that is not included in the template. Reflecting on the connection to place was interesting. While my affinity to the Chugach mountains and Pacific Ocean feel real to me, they are different than the connection to land by some indigenous peoples.
So here is my mihi:
My mountains are the Chugach,
My water is Cook Inlet,
My river is Eagle river,
My vehicle is flight,
My tribes are Scandinavian, British, and Irish,
My home is Alaska,
My grandparents are Jean and Elmer Samuelson, Al and Elizabeth Dennis, and Vera and Ed Strom,
My parents are Mercy and Elliott Dennis,
My family name is Hannam,
I am Leslie,
My sister is Ghennifer Zando-Dennis,
My spouse is Ken Hannam,
My sons are Maks Mayer, John Schoolcraft, and Patrick Schoolcraft.
Culture is made up of layers with complex interconnections, relationships. My cultural identity is based on my relationship with each of these layers and all of them together. And as is the nature of relationships - they are not static, but flowing and constantly changing.
Another way to look at it was presented in a book I am reading (see citation below):
In a high school art lesson the teacher asks students to create/select a symbol that
represents who they are. She asks them to include where they come from and who their
family and friends are. She asks them to think about their family, friends, cultures, tribes,
celebrations, and sorrows that, together, make them who they are today:
“How would you put all that is in your heart and head and soul into a picture?”
San Pedro, T. (2017). “This stuff interests me” Re-centering indigenous paradigms in colonizing schooling spaces. In Paris, D. & Alim, H. (2017). Culturally sustaining pedagogies.
Two flyers posted on my walk to yoga, were not there a day ago - or I just didn't notice.
Further on my walk I noticed this painting as I pondered the events of yesterday.
Individuals have goals, ideals, and plans they are constantly striving to meet - striving to make a reality in everyday life. A frequently sighted strategy is to “Fake it until you make it.” I interpret this as pretending something is so, going through the motions as if it is so, and talking as if it is so. This can create energy and momentum that will help propel the something forward and into reality. The strategy is based on good faith and sound intentions - it does not validate pretending in order to avoid actually doing something.
I wonder how this strategy applies to organizations and societies. The pictures above are of signage I saw at a school visit recently. Reading these signs was great. I felt wow, they really have the important stuff figured out here. They are making it a priority. Or, is it a matter of fake it until you make it? Are the messages in the sign actually alive in every hallway, classroom, and teacher/student interaction? Are they alive in how the students experience their days at school? I am sure not 100%, even 80% would be huge. But, they do send a message.
It makes me think of times I have spent working on signage that could convey behavioral expectations. A hall lined with rules and expectations for behavior is all about telling those walking the hall what I, as a school, want them to do and be like. It does not tell them that I care about them, that I acknowledge them, or that I understand the educational process they are going through.