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Te Kotahitanga represented at ‘Creativity in research: Generative inquires for educational futures’ NZARE Conference 2013

06 December 2013

Held at Otago University, Dunedin, 26 – 29th November, the New Zealand Association of Research in Education (NZARE) annual conference asked the question: How can education research imagine the impossible, work beyond the improbable and generate new possibilities for education in Aotearoa and beyond? This question resonates with the thinking that brought about the decision to speak with Māori students about their experiences of education back in 2001, thus beginning the Te Kotahitanga project. 

As such, Professor Russell Bishop was awarded the McKenzie Award in recognition of his work both within and beyond Te Kotahitanga. The McKenzie Award recipients have all made a significant contribution to educational research through high quality work over a number of years. The award was presented by Professor Roger Moltzen, Dean of Education, UOW and received by Associate Professor Mere Berryman, on Russell’s behalf. 

In support of the recognition given to Russell between them the Te Kotahitanga RP&D team presented four papers, one special interest group (SIG) talk, one round table presentation and a symposium. 

Annie Siope’s invitation to speak at the Pasifika Symposium provided an opportunity to contextual her methodology, research findings and experiences as a researcher within her Masters studies as well as Te Kotahitanga within the growing arena of Pasifika research. 

Te Arani Barrett shared the story of Rotorua Boys’ High School’s involvement in Te Kotahitanga through achievement data and the words of the principal, Chris Grinter. Entitled Meeting the mantra for Māori boys’ achievement her paper shared how a commitment to Māori achievement determined the leadership and pedagogy within the school.

Associate Professor Mere Berryman and Margaret Egan presented an in-progress paper entitled Rongohia te hau: The impact of the accelerated Te Kotahitanga response on classroom pedagogy. They explained the way in which both qualitative data, in the form of student and teacher surveys, alongside quantitative data, such as nationally comparable achievement data, were used by the RP&D team alongside Phase 5 schools, to determine the effectiveness of a three year intervention period. 

Therese Ford and Iti Joyce’s round table discussion talked about how literacy smart tools had been used by a group of Te Kotahitanga schools to develop connections with Māori whānau and communities. 

Robbie Lamont and Dawn Lawrence explained the way in which turning a research question on its head led to opening up the possibilities of creating a relational and culturally responsive learning context at distance. Entitled Theorising at the edge of practice, this in-progress paper told the story of the way in which technology became an enabler of learning rather than a determiner of it within a professional development process that has become known within Te Kotahitanga as Mahia te Mahi. 

Extending the work of her masters thesis, Children of the Migrant Dreamers (Siope, 2010), Annie Siope presented an in-progress paper entitled Culturally responsive and relational or just another really caring teacher? In this presentation Annie shared some further considerations of what cultural responsiveness looks like in classroom practice by re-examining the stories shared in her thesis.  

The final presentation was entitled Te Kotahitanga Phase 5: An accelerated response. Co-presented by all eight members of the team, this symposium provided an overview of the work that had been undertaken with Phase 5 schools and the impact of these actions on pedagogy, leadership and the achievement of Māori students. 

Four members of the team also attended the Māori Caucus and appreciated the opportunity to reconnect and make new connections with our Māori educational research colleagues. This hui provides a useful forum to consider implications and opportunities that exist within the Māori education research community as well as the wider context of educational research in Aotearoa.  

Conferences are always an opportunity to connect with new people and reconnect with others and to hear about the work that people have been doing. The team were greatly appreciative of the opportunity to hear about the recent work by Professor Janice Wearmouth, University of Bedfordshire, UK, who had worked alongside the team for several months in 2010. Her presentation, The use of ‘Talking Stones’: A projective technique for interviewing disaffected young people, provided some real food for thought in regards to a possible way to open reflective dialogue with young people and the ethical considerations of using such a powerful technique. 

Overall, the NZARE conference 2013 was a valuable opportunity to not only share what has been learnt within Te Kotahitanga but also to share in the learning from some leading educational researchers, from around New Zealand and overseas, working in a wide range of settings. The RP&D team really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to ‘be fed’.

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