CORE ED Modern Pathways to raising Maori Achievement

Janelle Riki's Presentation

Our Professional Development today focussed on Maori Achievement and digitally connected kids.

While the URL above is a link to it, most of the presentation was Janelle's spoken words around it. This was a very concise definition of why we should be using MLE's, which is one of the strongest points I took from it. Janelle was a very analytical and well-spoken presenter.

Slide 8 " be modern, anything were designing or building must be conceived of and developed for what we know and understand 'just now', drawing on our lessons from the past, an d considering the demands of the future.."

Explaining that our 'modern' spaces are about recognising what we need now and catering for the future made this seem a whole lot less 'catchphrase-y', and more about being realistic with our design, rather than just trying to force the modern practices we are already likely to be using into boxes that were designed for modern practice 50 years ago.

I liked that she started with "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" and took the time to break down how Maori culture and education values went from a traditional village system to victorian education systems, without anything in-between leading them through to this, and that this is likely according to some researchers, to still be impacting on the current state of affairs. I have read other pieces of research along those lines in reference to a number of other issues Maori are faced with, so while not a surprise, Janelle was really concise and confident with the information. Her point being, what can we learn from traditional village education systems that did exist? That students were relationally connected with their "teachers", were being evaluated for their natural strengths and then encouraged to play to those for the betterment of their society. They didn't necessarily 'pass' and 'fail' at what they were being taught, they just tried again and figured out a better way each time. Survival depended on it and it was a system of education that was 'fit for purpose'.

I do continue to wonder why we insist on teaching exam skills, and putting students through these; it isn't real applied learning, it doesn't resonate with you in 15 years time as something that altered your life, because it doesn't allow for you to practice a new skill or break down new information in a way that you will use for real, over again, in real life situations. An exam is almost like bad reality tv, without the captive audience; placing the 'ordinary. And when only 9 % of our Level One students credits came from external exams, I do have to wonder why? Level Two was 14%, Level Three I believe was 8%.

In relation to yesterday's PD on Feedback I then have begun to consider this; It is really easy for most of us to say that internal achievement standards under NCEA are easier. I say it. However, they are all aligned now and technically are not at a lower standard. Our students achieve them more readily, because we are working on them relationally. We are allowing them time to digest through feedback, and following up with that feedback, on the information/skill/problem being assessed and really learn it. It is naturally discursive, unless you sit there and just hand them out a booklet to work through and do your best to ignore getting to know your kids. So are they easier, or are they a more realistic learning processes? In Art, they are smaller chunks of learning, but I don't see them as necessarily easier. I don't think I will call them so again. You get the chance to reinforce the reflection process in class, over and over again if need be. 28 times to create a habit. You can give students the opportunity to critique themselves and each other. An exam paper only gets returned if you ask for it, and you cannot necessarily decipher the why or why not for the outcome. Our folios get returned with no feedback as to why decisions were made, but we know they were present in their process. It gets treated like a big secret we can't know, in case it undermines the sanctity of the 'exam'.

So in relation to the topic at hand, raising Maori achievement, I am not sure where this leaves the New Zealand curriculum or our assessment.

Slide 18, Janelle points out what she believes our students will need to survive their career pathway. Within this she graciously allowed that creativity should have been there and will be next time. While it fits brilliantly with the front end of our curriculum, it doesn't sit nicely with how we end up shoveling our students through as much NCEA as possible and prepping them for exams, from which they then only get 9% of their credits.

Is what we are doing with how many assessments are handled 'fit for purpose' for where we want our students to be at as people when they finally leave? Is what i am doing in our Art department fit for purpose in the same way? I believe it is, but I also think I need to analyse it further to really know.


  1. The eternal question: do we prepare the kids for the world as we think it should be and by the values we revere, or for the way the world is now? Or is this an overly simplistic, falsely binary question? Either way it is one that I wrestle with.


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