Saturday, 28 March 2015

Wk 31 - MINDLAB Language Revitalization

This post is part of an assessment for a paper on "Applied Practice in Context", part of the Postgraduate in 
Digital and Collaborative Learning programme offered by Mindlab and UNITEC.

Tena koutou katoa
Ko Katriona taku ingoa
Ko ahau te kaiako i Albany Senior High School
(greetings everyone, my name is Katriona, I am a teacher at Albany Senior High School)

My interpretation of language loss (and revitalization) on culture and identity in relation to my student community.

Articles 13, 14 and 15 of the "United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People" have specific reference to education. Particularly:-

Article 13
1.Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.

Article 14
1.Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
 2.Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.
3.States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.

Article 15
1.Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.

Indigenous knowledge and language is local and dynamic and in the case of te reo Maori (Maori language) New Zealand is the only place in the world where the language is culturally located

Some local initiatives, to name a few, that address language use and revitalization
  • te wiki o te reo Maori (Maori language week) has been celebrated since 1975
  • Maori TV channel
  • Maori language act (1987). Gave te reo official language status and the ability to use in legal settings.
  • Compulsory Te Reo in primary and intermediate schools
  • Place names are generally in te reo or bi-lingual though not everywhere
  • Government departments' signage is bilingual
  • Te Mangai Paho; a crown entity that provides funding for Maori broadcasting in te reo.
Educationally, initiatives such as "Te Kotahitanga" and "Kahikitia" and Macfarlanes (2003) Maori pedagogy though not developed to revitalize language do assist by exposing Maori and non-Maori to terminology and concepts that are embedded in Maori culture. Additionally, Kohanga Reo (Maori language pre-school) which when literally translated means 'language nest" and Kura Kaupapa (primary schools that follow Maori customs)  are "nests" of learning for te reo Maori as well as Maori culture. Students at all levels have opportunities to submit assessments in te reo Maori. However, this may not always be possible as there may not be someone that has both the degree of subject specialism and required level of te reo Maori for this to occur particularly at tertiary and postgraduate levels. Hopefully this will change in coming years.

There are differences around indigenous language revival, maintaining migrant languages and continuing to use minority dialects. As already identified language and culture go...hand in hand so it is fitting that as many diverse languages as possible survive. This requires supporting migrants to maintain language and customs that link them with homeland. Indigenous language revival occurs where it is embedded through interconnectedness with land, people and culture, so for Te Reo Maori this can only occur in Atoearoa New Zealand.

At ASHS our commitment to celebrating language and cultural diversity is visible in a variety of ways:- 
  • Signage in Te Reo
  • Welcoming guests with an ASHS powhiri
  • Waiata
  • Concepts such as Ako being used in the learning environment
  • Key terms and phrases shared amongst teaching staff and displayed within learning communities
  • Te Reo (by correspondence) is offered as an NCEA subject
  • Students play ki-o-rahi in PE. The finals of the tournament are tomorrow.
  • Impact Projects with a Maori focus are encouraged for interested students
  • A relationship with Nga Tapuwae Kura; a Maori immersion school in South Auckland
  • Celebrating national days eg. Korean national day for teachers, Chinese New Year
  • Evenings for Korean parents
  • Korean students performance evening "Korean Night"
  • Maori students meetings with Senior Leadership Team
  • There is a Head Student role for Culture. This year the person in the role is Pasifika
  • Being an "agentic teacher" part of which knowing the student as a learner and a person (their culture, their interests, their identity) - and at the very least pronouncing names correctly and being able to say "hello" "ata marie!" "jo sam" and so on.
Many of the values we hold strongly at ASHS can not be defined specifically as  Maori customs. However, they are certainly implied, particularly in the way we welcome our visitors and the relationships we value highly which echo the concepts of ManaakittangaWhanaungatanga and Ako. Nevertheless there is always more that could be implemented to support language maintenance and revitalisation. Some suggestions might be to:- 
  • run courses/lunch clubs in te reo
  • I receive "Kupu o te ra" "word a day" in my inbox. This could become school wide and/or could be scrolled up with our daily notices
  • Offer a physical Te Reo course (rather than correspondence)
  • Encourage the development of a Kapa Haka group. We don't have one currently....With the increase in numbers of Maori students perhaps this will change.
...and above all continue to develop awareness and responsiveness to cultural diversity, particularly the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, and to celebrate that diversity and richness of language together!

Ma te wa! (see you later!)

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