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“Malamalama- Miss, it means to understand, but it can mean light also.” Pasifika students’ perspectives of studying history in New Zealand.

This thesis looks at Pasifika students’ perspectives of studying history in the New Zealand secondary school I currently teach in. The methodology for the thesis was centred on a Tongan research approach referred to as Talanoa. This is an informal conversation during which Year 13 history students, who felt they belonged to the Pasifika collective, shared their experiences, attitudes and perspectives of studying history. The ideas and insights from the Talanoa are discussed and explored in this thesis. I contend that understanding the identities of our students is essential if we are to understand their experiences and perspectives of the enacted history curriculum and school programme. Therefore, this thesis explores the notion of identity formation, and looks at the various factors that shape the identities of the participants in this research. It is my view that as a result of lived rich cultural experiences Pasifika students have a personal sense of history. This in turn provides a unique lens through which they experience history in the classroom. This way of knowing the past influences their perspectives of the nature and purpose of history education. This includes how they see the role of interpretation in history, and how they find relevance or make connections with the historical contexts they study in the classroom history programme. I discuss curriculum theory that has informed my curriculum understandings. I reflect on the revised New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) and its supporting assessment policies in light of the implications for both history education in New Zealand, and for Pasifika students who receive this curriculum. It is my contention that the students in this research project demonstrated a deep understanding of history and provided valuable insights for teachers that may enhance teaching and learning experiences in the history classroom.
Type of thesis
Reymer, C. H. (2012). ‘Malamalama- Miss, it means to understand, but it can mean light also.’ Pasifika students’ perspectives of studying history in New Zealand. (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6493
University of Waikato
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