A curriculum with tribal links

I really liked this concept – “A curriculum with tribal links” – which was mentioned in the Education Gazette of 7th May, 2012 and it came up in my thoughts again today when listening to Radio National’s Nine to Noon programme.

The feature guest was Dr Nick Barratt and he was discussing the importance of genealogy. I only caught the tail end of it, but was really interested to hear him explain how much success he had had with using genealogy to drive a school’s curricula. It sounded like an incredibly successful way of personalising learning… Nick Barratt is coming to NZ soon to talk at the NZ Society of Genealogists’ AGM about “the importance of ancestral tourism as an economic driver, the importance of personal heritage within the school curriculum and the future of genealogy in the media age.”

During the interview, Ryan asks: “You are going so far as to say that personal heritage should be incorporated somehow into the school curriculum; how so?”

To which, Barratt replies: “Well, we’ve done some projects in the UK…the Making History Project… […] what we tried to do was tailor the journey so that everything in the curriculum made sense if it was done through your personal story, or the history of your local school, or your street, so infuse elements of family and local history and suddenly… it… gives people the creativity, because it personalises what they’re learning, so they can look at particular literature, for example in English, so’s they understand a little bit more about why that paticular text is important to their family background. It shows a lot more about culture, identity, citizenship, for example, but also creative writing, music, arts, if it’s got that personal hook or you’ve got some creative outlet or talent that’s linked to your own background, you’re more likely to engage with that subject, and it makes the whole process make sense.

So just giving that little bit of personal attention, suddenly elevates that whole learning journey into something that’s yours. You control it, you own it, you can see what you can do with it, understanding where you come from, might even give you some sort of vocational advice. If you’ve got a particular line of artists, four generations back that you never knew about, but you’ve always wanted to be an artist, suddenly you realise that, yeah, they did something with their lives as well. So, understanding a bit about your background at a very early age empowers you and gives you more options as you move through the school system. And also helps shape some of the life choices you make. We’ve found all of our students who went through the programme, perhaps weren’t suited to traditional forms of study, …yet they excelled and became leaders of their year group, having done this little bit of study and understand where they come from. […]”

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon  (Tuesday 22 May 2012)  blurb: “Feature Guest – Dr Nick Barratt: Dr Nick Barratt is a British genealogist, broadcaster, historian and author. He was the head genealogist on the BBC’s television series Who Do You Think You Are? for four years. He’s coming to NZ to speak at the NZ Society of Genealogists’ AGM and conference in Taupo (1-3 June 2012) The topics he’s speaking about in NZ include the importance of ancestral tourism as an economic driver for growth; the importance of personal heritage within the school education curriculum; and the future of genealogy in the media age. (29′22″)”

This linked in with a very interesting article I read on the possibilities of using memory cultures more fully in the classroom: Hawkey, Kate and Prior, Jayne (2011) ‘History, memory cultures and meaning in the classroom’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43: 2, 231 — 247

Actually, on this note, might local histories fit into the curriculum well here? I’m thinking both very local (e.g., A Fine Prospect: A History of Remuera, Meadowbank and St Johns, by Jenny Carlyon and Diana Morrow) and more broadly… (eg. Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins (2011) He Kōrero: Words Between Us; First Māori-Pākehā Conversations on Paper. Huia Publishers: Wellington )

Nurturing whanau in the kaupapa of our tipuna

In the afore-mentioned article on a centre in Rotorua developing their curriculum around  whakapapa, Kate Bleasdale writes:

“A tribal curriculum with links to their whakapapa (genealogy) is what the tamariki at Te Puna Akoranga o Ngāti Whakaue learn about. Centre pouārahi (manager) Aroha Hicks said it had been developed to acknowledge tribal connections but is an ongoing and evolving document. For example, they recently finished learning about their ancestor, Ihenga, who was the grandson of Tamatekapua. Ihenga was an explorer and was responsible for naming and discovering landmarks in the Te Arawa area.

“We took the tamariki through a visual display of finding and naming the landmarks,” said Aroha. “The children can discover things. It’s not just staying to a Māori kaupapa (theme), there’s lots of experimenting and building on their interests.”

She said as part of their exploration, they took the tamariki on an ‘Ihenga Haerenga’ (journey) on the local bus to see what they could discover on the way just like their ancestor did.

“Many interests evolved out of that part. We talked about the river Kaituna that [Ihenga] named. We threw balloons into the river to see where the current was faster and followed them down the river. There was so much discussion and problem solving that came out of it; it was building upon a kaupapa.”

Ref: Kate Bleasdale ‘A curriculum with tribal links’ Tukutuku Korero 7th May 2012, Vol 91, No. 8, pp10-11

How might we work all these ideas together to get a better grounding for our communities???

Can we take such approaches as the above educators have done and use them to make science more meaningful as well???

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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One Response to A curriculum with tribal links

  1. Pingback: Matauranga Maori, Science and the Treaty of Waitangi: the importance of whakapapa | LiteracyNZ

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