Keynote - Part 8
Dr Mere Berryman
Wenger in his book on ‘communities of practice’ wrote something that alarmed me at the time but it makes me feel really good now. He said education is the opening of identities and how we, how you, how me, how we construct children’s identity has a huge impact on how they engage, or not, in education. We’ve seen the negative statistics around that. We know that we’re in a situation now that we’ve never been as a country.
There’s my youngest granddaughter. You can see why I think the browning of…yup, she can whakapapa to Tuhoe and Tainui and Sweden but she’s going to grow up knowing that she’s Māori. And so I want us to consider, for just a second, this notion of Māori enjoying success as Māori, Ka Hikitia, because I think through culturally responsive pedagogy, we want the same thing. You want that, we want that. We might be talking about it in slightly difficult ways but we can’t afford to continue talking past each other.
We’ve got to talk, kanohi ki te kanohi, we’ve got to talk together. And I leave it up to a Māori mother in one of our Phase 3 schools who said, “It’s our responsibility”, and it is. Norman Denzin visited this university a couple of weeks ago, the days are sort of merging into one another, and he left us with three things, which I thought were very profound. The first thing he said was to ‘think your way through to the moral space that you want to occupy’ and be comfortable in that space. And create the world as we want it to be. I thought that was pretty profound. However, before I got too carried away I know Aunty Nan would say kia tūpato. While that maybe profound if you are doing things that are tika and pono, that might be profound. However, that can just as easily be applied for negative things. And so I would add Aunty Nan’s caveat there, kia tūpato, be careful. I think that we, you, me, we, us have been thinking ourself through to the moral space that we want to occupy in New Zealand’s education system. I think some of us might even be comfortable in that space. Hah, one school at a time and then the world, it’s up to us, but I’m going to let the students have the last say.
When you’re a Māori student, as sad as it sounds, expectations for you to fail are very high, so I think those are the kind of expectations we wanted to push away.
When I first arrived here my goal was to pretty much just have fun and just eat my lunch, I guess, so that was 4th Form when I arrived. And then 5th Form, started … my mates all started dropping out of school and then I just started realising that it’s getting a bit serious now.
Level 1 was like a hard year for me. I was just didn’t care anymore. I was just like oh school, I want to drop out.
There was only one teacher that actually taught me and that was my English teacher and all my other teachers just thought I was just naughty as and sort of excluded me from everyone else, but when I came into the TKP system it’s just no matter like how you dress, or what you look like, or how brainy or dumb you are, they still treat you the same as everyone else. And that’s what made me want to be someone.
Like been a lot of times when I just thought oh I didn’t want to go, or thought I couldn’t make it, but then teachers were always there to encourage you, with some of my mates, and then my parents were just a huge influence on all that sort of thing.
Some teachers they teach to the whole class, they don’t look at the individual, so it’s kind of easier when they look to you as a person and then see what help you need, not like as a class because everyone’s different.
They have so much faith in you, almost like their expectations are so high that you don’t want to let them down, so you keep pushing yourself till you get there.
She did everything she could and she gave me extra help and just really believed that I could do it and I felt as if if I hadn’t achieved the marks she wanted me to then I had let her down.
This place is home pretty much, the teachers become family. Yeah, and it’s easier to talk to them, it’s easier to get along with them, they know what you want, they help you no matter what.
So those kind of people that believe in you, that take the time after school to kind of um, to kind of help you.
If you fall behind, so like my History teacher this year I was struggling, I was falling behind and he said you know I’m here during lunch times, after school if you need anything, same with my Physics teacher.
She was just the best, like she’s one of those teachers where she can just give you this look and you just like okay I’ll do it. Like she was like you can do this.
They don’t have to do this other stuff but yeah they just do it and I think it’s just awesome that they do it, and especially towards the Māori students in this school. Yeah, it’s really like a really gives us like a sense of whānau in the school.
I forgot to study because I had Touch and Netball. As soon as I came back and I told them that, they were willing to help me and try and get a little bit extra in there before the exams, and I ended up still getting in the top 21 of our grade, so I was pretty happy with that.
I used to be the dumb guy, I know I still am, but yeah I used to be the dumbest guy, but now yeah, I’ve gotten better with English and I’ve got all my credits and everyone thought I wouldn’t, so yeah.
They have pushed me, they’ve given me motivation but also their stories as well from when they were younger and how they went to university and all that and it kind of, kind of just made me want to do well as well.
It was cool like just looking into the junior classes and seeing the same teachers that you have but they’ve just like improved on what they’re trying to do with you. And like you can just see the relationships starting to build and all that sort of thing.
Some students expect the teachers to make the environment and learning good for them instead of them making it good for themselves. It’s like they just come in and depend too much on the teachers, where it’s sort of a half way thing like the teachers will meet you half way and you meet them the other half.
They want to know about us and our background, how we learn and we want to know about them as well.
Because my mum is so proud of me cos of what I’ve done and stayed in school and like my whole family, I get hugs.
Dr Mere Berryman
And where you see the credits roll, you’ll see where these students are going, where they will be now, where they’ve been for a year. And I’m not saying that university is the be all and end all but what you people are giving these students is hope. Hope that they actually will have a real future. Keep it up, thank you.