Hornby High School Kapahaka

"It's just an excuse to get out of class..."

Not a student, but a former teacher. The prospect of students coming out of a timetabled class for Kapahaka practice.

"I don't think it is fair that they miss one of our classes and we lose that time, they are usually the most behind"

It is not the most accurate quote, but it is a sentiment expressed often when, as a dean a few years ago, I was the space between the rock and the hard place in soothing fears and hurts over the school attempting to get some traction in setting up Kapahaka as a culture here. Unsuccessfully, I might add. In both respects.

The key word here being 'they'.  Us and them, you and me, management vs school vs students vs Māori students. When fear is a factor, the 'other' becomes a significant stumbling block, ignorance outweighs compassion and common sense. All we end up seeing and being, is a part of a divisive and negative culture.

So I joined the Kapahaka practice. It is the most surreal thing to watch students who in the grounds, and in some classes, are at times sorta, kinda wicked hard work, not always particularly open to you as a teacher, be the star of the show. Take control Ms Tongotongo and direct your senior girls to stand with, and help teach the new girls (and women teachers), dictate the volume output with your command and your own voice, amp it up, control the 'pause', teach 15 new students the first section of the school haka in 7 minutes, thank you very much.

Back inside the auditorium we all go, back with the boys, standing together. A male and a female lead again control the volume, determine the pace, and within 15 minutes we all know those first few lines well and the roof is being raised off, like a lid of a soda bottle shaken up by the pressure of our voices. We went from 40% to 110% input in stages, as directed and maintained by our student leaders.

There are benefits to all staff being in this room at this moment. We see confidence where we didn't know it existed, a sense of togetherness demonstrated by the students, the collective consciousness as a real thing. Manaakitanga, Kawanatanga even, there as real tangible elements. Taking this and translating it into the classroom means more than just being there at the practice as a teacher. I want to explore this more, I'm hoping that some of what we do is already doing this. At the end of the year, I want to compare how my new senior class structure compares to this style of education and whether results have in fact been affected, or even whether I care about those results or something more.


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