Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu: how can language and literacy be optimised for Māori learner success? Publications
This report explores success in literacy and language learning for Māori adults. It captures the perspectives of Māori tutors and students who were or undertaking, or considering, tertiary education at introductory, foundation or certificate level.
Author(s): Hera White, Tania Oxenham, Marion Tahana, Kim Williams and Kimi Matthews, Waikato Institute of Technology
Date Published: August 2009
- There is a demand for quality and qualified Māori literacy tutors who are knowledgeable in tikanga and te reo Māori. This highlights the need to train more Māori bilingual literacy tutors.
- Competent literacy and language teaching practice is critical to developing student engagement with their course-related content. This needs to be considered from an indigenous pedagogical approach to literacy.
- A holistic approach to upskilling all staff in Māori pedagogical languages and practices can close the cultural gap and provide understanding that comes with teaching Māori learners.
- Māori habitus (inherent cultural being) needs to be understood and valued as being distinct from the generic term 'student centredness'.
- Student difficulties in engaging with learning are a product of their prior education experiences, rather than individual deficits.
- Preparing Māori students to transition into tertiary level study and mainstream learning environments is highly valuable.
- Organisational systems and processes need to be responsive to and supportive of Māori learners (e.g. enrolment processes).
- Effective Māori support systems (e.g. whakawhanaungatanga) are relevant to meeting student retention and success.
- Holistic diagnostic tools and assessments are critical to measuring student literacy and language capabilities. Hence, Māori habitus becomes a critical focus in the design and delivery of these tools.
- Strategic engagement between tertiary institutes and PTEs and/or iwi is important to developing reciprocal goals that support literacy and language for Māori students.
- Strategic engagement between tertiary institutes and PTEs and/or iwi is important to developing reciprocal goals that support whānau aspirations (e.g. access to kōhanga reo/childcare facilities).
Ngā wahanga - background to the report
This report focuses on how language and literacy can be optimised for Māori learner success for potential and existing students of Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec). It is framed around the four focus groups of interested participants (identified below), who were the puna (sources) of knowledge that informed the research team. The choosing of this combination of groups came from a desire to fulfil one of Wintec's strategic objectives, which is to meet Māori and Pasifika educational outcomes and aspirations within the boundaries of Tainui, and to work collaboratively with community stakeholders.
To aid the flow of the research, each focus group has been assigned a chapter of their own. This was considered essential in order to preserve the descriptive narratives that were unique in each of the groups. Also, the chapters drew attention to their own significant observations, which eventually fed into the key findings of the research. Accompanying each chapter is a specific whakataukī, whakatauākī, tongi1 that highlights the methodological approach of the research team that we as Māori staff engaged in Māori ways of thinking, used Māori apparatuses and followed kaupapa Māori research methods which embrace those very concepts and values that are unique to our way of thinking.
Chapter 1: Introduction to the report
This chapter provides the Introduction to the Report, where history is given about Wintec and its position on literacy and language, and the theoretical framework upon which this report constructs its developed cultural knowing and theorising. Also, attention is drawn to the wealth of erudition that has always been present for Māori researchers, but not always fully appreciated and sometimes even dismissed by dominant research theories – often diametric to the well-being of the participants.
Chapter 2: Private Training Establishment tutors
Here details reveal the findings from a group of private training establishment (PTE) tutors with whom Wintec is creating relationships. Presuming that a number of their students will consider Wintec a place to study, it examines how PTE tutors have sought to meet student literacy and language needs. The chapter exposes the constraints placed on these tutors by their environment, limited qualifications and restricted resources. These tutors are specialists, teaching course content as well as providing literacy and numeracy support, after extensive diagnostic testing and assessment. The chapter also details some of the successes and gaps that tutors have faced in the delivery of these courses.
Chapter 3: Current students
This chapter presents an analysis of the interviews conducted with the 'Current Students' focus group. The students were enrolled in a 16-week Introduction to Construction Level 2 programme offered through a collaborative partnership between a Waikato-Maniapoto iwi rūnanga and Wintec. Their unique contribution to this research stems from the whakapapa relationship that all students shared with the iwi rūnanga concerned. Another unique aspect is that these students were being trained in carpentry maintenance in response to the capacity-building needs within their community.
Chapter 4: Current tutors
Two tutors of the 'Current Students' focus group were interviewed, to provide perspectives on how they view language and literacy optimisation for Māori learner success. Both tutors were chosen by the iwi rūnanga to develop and deliver the programme because of their connectedness to the community, which brought understanding of students' prior experiences. The collaborative nature of the students, tutors and their relationship with Wintec are highlighted.
Chapter 5: Potential learners
The fourth focus group is identified as 'Potential Learners'. Here the students attended a one-week Wānanga Pūkenga Ako course – designed for students wanting to develop their study and writing skills before entering tertiary study. These students were pre-enrolled and/or were considering the pursuit of study at Wintec. Their answers provide a historical background of their perceptions about language and literacy, and also why they want to engage in tertiary education.
Chapter 6: Significant chapter observations
Each chapter's significant observations are recapitulated.
- Proverb, saying, prophetic insight.