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Exploring the potential of Te Whāriki in supporting a decolonising educational reform in classroom

This thesis begins with a deep belief in the potential of Te Whāriki, a bicultural curriculum document born of the dual heritages of Aotearoa/New Zealand, to support the educational reform needed. There is a need to decolonise our classrooms and create contexts for learning where Māori students feel they can belong and also thrive. The pathway to achieving this reality is complex. It requires a deep foundational understanding of our shared histories in order to move from deficit positions about Māori learners to ones of agency and hope. While strong relationships are important it was by connecting with Māori metaphors that we were able to move beyond the rhetoric and begin to build shared understandings and greater respect for knowledge from te ao Māori. The process of whakawhiti kōrero or dialogic and iterative sense making furthered our combined theorising. The whakataukī and metaphors embedded in Te Whāriki were foundational to these contexts as they strengthened our collective abilities as teachers to make the learning more meaningful and fun. This research process provided me with valuable insights into the way my own power and beliefs can inhibit potential collective learning. Despite this it was the content of Te Whāriki that helped to enable the learning of myself and my participants, creating safe and supportive contexts for our collective learning to begin to grow. While this research strengthened my own beliefs in the potential of Te Whāriki it also assisted my participants to become more open to this potential as well. In this endeavour, time was required to engage with the more expert other, whether this was from other people or through the use of artefacts. The relational and culturally responsive pedagogy that we had learned to implement in our classrooms was also able to be connected with, as our shared unlearning and learning flowed.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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