Renu Sikka, a primary school teacher and member of NZEI Te Riu Roa, reflects on what the lockdown can mean for her colleagues around the country and how mindfulness can play a role in getting through.
NZEI Te Riu Roa is committed to ensuring every one of our members is heard and supported during the Covid-19 pandemic, using all the expertise, resources and channels we have available.
Every year I read my class the same book – Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. Why? One of my favourite memories from primary school was hearing it read by my Year 3 teacher. Mrs Vanderworth did voices. Now, I normally struggle with creating voices when reading aloud, and I can never remember exactly how they sounded from one day to the next. However, I nail my performance with that book, because Mrs Vanderworth’s voice stretches across decades like a time-travelling ventriloquist act. It’s a voice I can’t get out of my head. Thanks to her, I get begged all year to “do the Fudge voice”, but I suspect it’s really my enthusiasm for the story that starts off a series of chain reactions. See, Judy Blume wrote a series. The Fudge books fly off my school library shelves because everyone wants to know what happened next. I also remember how my teacher would explain words and mime out the actions, and the way meaning slipped off the page and into my growing vocabulary. The world grew wider with every page. I try the same with fact walls, group discussions on character and vocabulary jars, so we can
Ah, compulsory te reo Māori in mainstream schools. It’s a grazing table for politician-elects and a fear-inducing topic for overworked teachers. It’s been on the cards since 1972, when 33,000 people signed a petition approaching Government on the topic, but so far, it’s been a fruit too high to harvest. Compulsion for me isn’t about language, but citizenship. We’re a country at a standstill on unified progression and, in my view, that standstill is caused by the ignorance that there’s only one single way to live a life. Ignorance leads to fear and scaremongering. The last decade or so has seen legislation questionably enacted, racism in schools and the New Zealand Police brought to light, prejudice in the legal system exposed and some pretty shocking behaviour from incoming local politicians. All these things leave just one thought in my head: if we’re going to fix what is broken, every individual in this country must be able to exercise great citizenship in their decision-making. We need to extinguish individual ignorance before it enters an institution capable of harm. To me, language compulsion seems one crucial way to ensure everyone gets some basic level of mutual communicative understanding, as well as the linguistic
O le Gagana, o le Fatu po‘o le Mauli lea o le Aganu‘u a Samoa a‘o le Aganu‘u, o le Fa‘asinomaga lea o le Samoa. – Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, 2018 O a ia Taumafa? O Taumafa Manogi, ua fa‘atusaina lea i le fa‘aaogaina o le Gagana e fafaga ai tama a Samoa e Faatonu, Fa‘asino, Faapoto ma Fesoota‘i ai. E leitioa fo‘i le Fa‘autaga ma le ‘au fai Tofā a fa‘apea mai: “O fānau a tagata e fafaga i ‘upu ma tala ‘ae ‘o tama a manu o fuga o lā‘au.” O la‘u gagana,o le taula lea o lo‘u olaga aoaoina, o le faavae malosi ma le mafuaaga o le manuia o lo‘u taumafai i totonu o Niusila. O se pine faamau foi o suesuega o loo faapea mai, a malamalama le tagata i lana gagana muamua, e faigofie ona fa‘aofi se isi gagana i lona olaga1. Na ou galue o se faiaoga i Samoa ma sa fa‘aaogaina le Gagana Samoa o le Gagana fa‘atonu i aoga. I le galue ai i Niusila nei, na faigofie ona feso‘ota‘i, tusitusi ma talanoa i le Gagana Peretania ona o le lelei o la‘u fa‘asamoa. E faapea foi le maitau i fanau o loo autova‘a
When asked to share some reflections on my three years as NZEI Te Riu Roa President, I was prompted to think back to the very beginning of this journey. I have attended many annual meetings over the years and seen many presidents presiding over them. I would watch them weave their magic over debates and questions, and manage tense moments. I used to marvel at their skill and wisdom. In those early years, not once did I think it would one day be me in that place. The last three years have been an absolute rollercoaster ride. It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The opportunity to represent and advocate for our members and our tamariki locally, nationally and internationally is a great privilege. The last three years have been an absolute rollercoaster ride. It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The dumping of National Standards and charter schools brought us hope of change from a neoliberal and market-driven “one-size-fits-all” approach to education. The conversations about a 30-year vision for education with the review of Tomorrow’s Schools and a 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education, a focus on those children who
Kia ora koutou. It is great to have the opportunity to contribute to Ako. I am really pleased that this issue is focussed on language, as it is top of mind for me. As I write, I am transitioning into the role of President after being a teacher at Ross Intermediate. During 2019, I helped lead the development of our local curriculum, and the downside to my new role is that I won’t be there to help with the implementation of it – but I back our team at school. Language became a central concept as we went through our process. We asked all the big questions – what is a curriculum, what should tamariki be learning, what is the role of parents, what is our role in preparing ākonga for high school? – and after all that, we agreed that a local curriculum needs to put ākonga at the centre. By this, we didn’t mean generic ākonga – I’m not sure if those even exist. What we meant is that we had to develop a curriculum to meet the needs of every ākonga we are lucky enough to have come through our door. This required us to start from
Ko Manawaru, Matiti, Maungahaumia, Ahititi, Hikurangi me Rangipoua ngā maunga. Ko Te Ārai, Maraetaha, Waipaoa, Waihirere, Waiapu me Hāparapara ngā awa. Ko Horouta, Tākitimu me Mātaatua ngā waka. Ko Manutuke, Muriwai, Mangatu, Parihimanihi, Whareponga, Tū Auau me Otuwhare ngā marae. Ko Ngāti Kaipoho, ko Rangi i Waho Matua, ko Ngāti Taua, ko Ngāti Kohuru, ko Te Aitanga-a-Mate, ko Ngāti Rangi, ko Te Whānau-a-Rutaia ngā hapu. Ko Rongowhakaata, ko Ngāi Tamanuhiri, ko Te Aitanga a Mahaki, ko Ngāti Porou, ko Te Whānau-a-Apanui ngā iwi. Ko Kiana Ria Renata-Kokiri toku ingoa. 17 oku tau. Ko Manutuke taku tūrangawaewae. Child of the mist, Tame Iti, says that “history has woven us together. We are the basket, the kete, that holds the future!” As a young Māori woman, I have experienced both mainstream and kura kaupapa education. School is often a difficult and confusing time for me. I often question its purpose. Referring to our country’s curriculum, Dr Muriel Newman states that “the vision statement affirms that young people will work to create an Aotearoa New Zealand, in which Māori and Pākeha recognise each other as full Treaty partners.” I don’t believe this statement has any truth. Even in the kura kaupapa setting in
Kia ora e hoa mā. This winter 2019 issue of Ako focusses on community and the different ways it is evidenced within education. There are many quotes about the power of community but one that really resonates with me is this from Meg Wheatley, an American writer and management consultant with expertise in organisational behaviour: “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” When I think about community, I think about the many different communities that I have the privilege to be a part of, many of whom are focussed on enabling positive change within education. There’s the community that is NZEI Te Riu Roa, made up of members from across the education landscape – we know the power of the collective, we know that all of us working together to achieve a common goal is so very powerful, we know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This year, we have seen proof of this – and we can be proud of how we have taken the wider community of Aotearoa with us. There’s the community that is NZEI Te Riu Roa, made up of members from across the education
Children do not exist in isolation; their lives are embedded in families, communities and societies. Nested within these communities are the schools and early childhood education (ECE) services children attend. When I was a child, my experience was of little interaction between schools and their communities. Looking back, this seems due to the culture of practice within schools, more than the school gates. In the intervening years, writers like Bronfenbrenner1 have drawn our attention to the complex influences of environments – both immediate and more remote – on development and the value of creating meaningful reciprocal connections between the different groups and settings that children are part of. Today we see attention to the role of communities reflected in our curriculum documents. “Family and Community/Whānau Tangata” is one of the principles of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, along with the expectation that each ECE service will use the curriculum “as a basis for weaving with children, parents and whānau its own local curriculum of valued learning, taking into consideration also the aspirations and learning priorities of hapū, iwi and community”. For kura and schools, Te Marautanga notes that for learners to succeed, the school, the home, hapū, iwi and community