WiPCE 2017

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I am headed to the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education 2017 in Toronto at the end of this month to talk about nurturing cultural humility in our pre-service teachers. It is a combination of creating a third space within my classroom, using cultural humility and culturally responsive practices to model what I want my students to do in their own placements in the school. Finally, use deep reflection and ancestral knowledge as a way to tap into the kinds of lifelong reflection on practice necessary to nurture cultural humility in these young teachers. I am still working on those questions that will bring about the kinds of reflection that I want, but the semester is coming up in August so I will be able to continue to research. In the meantime, I am sharing my slides here.

WiPCE 2017 presentation.pptx

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What Happened to Reading?

Yiadom

 

I don’t know what happened to the endless hours of reading under the shade of a tree on a beach or splayed out on the couch, cocooned in bed, in the muggy heat of the laundromat, the corner of the library under the armadillo. . .

I try to get up early, do my must do items that come with being an adult, then sit on my not so comfy but cheap office chair, stare at my computer and read. It does not last long and I barely get through one long article when my heel starts hurting, my hip aches, my neck stiffens.

What happened to reading without pain? What happened to the ability to quiet the outside world and immerse into the worlds of Pearl Buck or Amy Tan. How come I do not hear the authors speaking in my ear?

I have become a skimmer, sadly. Here is what I am skimming now. “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Imaginary Portraits” by Zadie Smith, New Yorker June 19, 2017.

This is what kept me skimming:

This red has the effect of bringing a diverse selection of souls together, framing and containing them, much like a novel contains its people, which is to say, only partially. For Yiadom-Boakye’s people push themselves forward, into the imagination—as literary characters do—surely, in part, because these are not really portraits. They have no models, no sitters. They are character studies of people who don’t exist.

I want to be able to immerse myself into character studies of people who do not exist. I want to read that way again.

What You Get When You Give a Little

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There are people in my life that connect on a level that is spiritual and timeless. The relationship does not need to be stoked and watched and baby’d. It survives on a plane that is metaphoric. One of the people that I have that kind of connection with is Manulani Meyer. She is a mentor to many, a part of many Hawaiian educators’ moʻokūʻauhau, but I am lucky to call her my buddy. Our lives continue to intersect when we most need it to and I try to stay attuned to the wind and movements of the earth so that I can also be that HĀ for her.

I told her that I was having a hard time writing because I would rather write poetry than academic prose and she sent me this.

Lee Irwin, Visionary Worlds: The Making and Unmaking of Reality. (93)

It is not anarchy, but the loss of place and position that threatens so many who would truly live another way, an alternative world. There are many who would give up reason for imagination if they could do so and survive; this is the great need, the driving force behind cultural collapse and struggle.  It is not the “irrational” but the imaginative, the artistic, visionary, and alternate that appeals. Reason has its place, as does language and sensation, but life is far richer, far greater and more alive than reason can reconstruct.  If reason is liberated from its bonds, it will rediscover its union with imagination, vision, artistry and mystical illumination as essential to its own further becoming. Reason illuminated is reason freed from externals and aware of its own illuminating potential. After St. Thomas Aquinas had long finished his Summa Theologica, he had a profound spiritual awakening that took him far beyond the bounds of reason. Asked afterward about all his many labors to write his great work, he replied: “Straw for the fire!”  So it is with the empirical worldview, the positivist stance is preparation for death and transformation, for a great dying and rebirth. There is reason to fear, for many suffer already in their unwillingness to let go, and thereby cause others to suffer.

What is so sacred now:

  • The reason behind “cultural collapse and struggle” is our need to give up imagination for reason in order to make enough to survive.
  • Even if we are able to free ourselves from externals, when we have spiritual awakenings, the large “aha,” we must quantify, qualify, analyze, reason and our laborious thoughts are “straw for the fire.”
  • Perhaps Lee Irwin knew Aunty Minnie Kaʻawaloa of Kalapana who said, “if you no listen, everybody suffer.” She was talking about the fact that the kūpuna from Kalapana were urging the catholic diocese to leave the Painted Church in Kalapana because the Painted Church looked mauka to protect from land and the Kalapana Maunakea Congregational Church was across the street looking makai to protect Kalapana from the ocean. The town had several scares over the years but the lava and tidal waves did not hit Kalapana until the diocese did not listen and moved the Painted Church. Now Kalapana as Aunty Minnie knew it from her youth is gone. So see, everybody suffer.

I guess the struggle is not so much do I listen, but what do I do now that I hear?

Hōʻike as Assessment

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In Hawaiian, hōʻike means to show or exhibit ʻike. The key part of the word is ʻike because with those 4 letters (the ʻokina or glottal stop is its own letter), the complexities of the world rest in that word.

In Hawaiian education, the hōʻike is like the large summative “project” or assessment. The difference though is in the way it is “assessed.” In western education, large summative assessments are usually end of the term or end of unit tests or projects. They are weighed, they are measured, and sometimes found wanting (sorry for the Knight’s Tale muddled reference). In other words, there are points, a lot of points, tied to the assessment. There is a rubric or some clear expectation of what should be in the assessment in order to do the weighing and measuring. There is usually a grade to it and it affects all the other grades that came before.

The hōʻike is not about evaluation. It is about celebration of understanding and learning. It is not about grading. It is about bearing witness to each student’s growth, whether it is large or small. It is about honoring the process and sharing in the learning. It is NOT graded.

I just went to a hōʻike put on by the Malama Learning Center, a non profit STEM educational group that works in West Oʻahu. From their mission and vision statements:

Vision
Mālama Learning Center is a place in West O‘ahu that brings art, science, conservation and culture together to promote sustainable living throughout Hawai‘i. MLC strives to unify area schools, residents and businesses around a shared ethic of caring and conservation.

Mission

To teach and inspire communities to create healthy living environments

To me this is where science teachers go when they retire.

What impressed me about this hōʻike was that there were so many witnesses. The groups presenting their Nānākuli Watershed projects ranged from an honors biology class at Kapolei High School to 6th graders at Ka Waihono o ka Naʻauao. The witnesses were from the schools represented: the two complex area superintendents, principals or vice principals for all of the schools, families, siblings, the students, friends, university folks like me who brought our own students to also bear witness to the potential and magnificence of these students, elders from the area, cultural experts, and sponsors.

What it tells me is that I cannot just use the word hōʻike at the end of my syllabus and leave it open to my students to just share. I need to also encourage them to bring their own witnesses forward. I need to fill the room for my students. That is where the power lies and that is how hōʻike as assessment needs to happen.

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Manu Notes for EDUC210

More notes on scrap paper for the Hawaiian Ways of Knowing in education course from meeting with Manu:

For the main project:

What is the purpose of this exercise?

Will it serve my family?

Will it benefit my community?

(Is it moʻo worthy)

How does it extend the quality of our lives?

How is it sustainable?

“Knowledge that holds function at its center moves our students into action & a better understanding of the roles of history and intention” (57).

We will heal and we will be educated by ʻāina. This is key. We will, once again, be “fed” by the tides, rains, stories of place & people made buoyant because this is how culture survives. Let us shape our school lessons by this ideal and let us shape our lives accordingly.

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#Teachinyourcommunity notes

It is summer and I am trying to put some ideas down and get rid of scraps of paper at the same time. These are notes for block 2 practicum and a way to get students to embrace the idea of teaching in your own community.

Presentation – community

History of your school

What services are provided in your community?

Talk to your mentor teacher in what ways does the community impact your school, your classroom, your students?

How does your mentor or school use the community to enhance the education of your community?

Implications – what does this mean

Describe mentor teacherʻs perspective of their community

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Sustainability w/Manu

Manu Aluli Meyer continues to be my mentor and guide so the fact that she continues to put herself out there, continues to work on new projects is inspiration to me. She just filmed this video podcast and so I am sharing it here. I hope to continue to work on this ‘ike, hōʻike, [k}new knowledge which is old knowledge and logical knowledge.

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Moʻo Poetry

I like using poetry for writing, and not always have to write my own, so part of this project should be about collecting pieces even if I don’t know how I will use it.

This one is by Victor Hugo, he of Les Miserable  and Hunchback of Notre Dame fame. It’s called “June Nights” and it’s June, and the nights have been full of termites, so I want to collect this different look at June

In summer, when day has fled, the plain covered with flowers
Pours out far away an intoxicating scent;
Eyes shut, ears half open to noises,
We only half sleep in a transparent slumber.

The stars are purer, the shade seems pleasanter;
A hazy half-day coulours the eternal dome;
And the sweet pale dawn awaiting her hour
Seems to wander all night at the botom of the sky.

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Transformation through art

I am at the AERA conference but decided to use my time learning at the Holocaust Museum and making my way through some of the Smithsonian galleries that I have not visited before until I got to the Native American museum for a late lunch.  At the Sackler Museum of Asian art, there was an instillation called Turquoise Mountain about transforming Murad Khani in Afghanistan (transformation of place and people through art). You were encouraged to touch the woodwork, but I was most drawn to the text and what I could learn from these artists.

I need to do more research around art as methodology but also art as catharsis for cultural trauma.

I donʻt know how I am going to use it, but on entering, there was a video playing and it is about how they were taught to build with concrete, but after the war, the concrete was destroyed; it did not hold up as well as their traditional methods of building with mud and wood. The concrete was poorly made, it was ugly.

Hedayatullah Ahmadzai, head of engineering at Turquoise Mountain says,

When I was a refugee in Pakistan I got a job working on the conservation of historic buildings. It was there that I received my first experience of traditional building design and building techniques. On returning to Afghanistan, I worked in many areas of the country, where people still built their homes using these traditional techniques.

These experiences made me realize what mud and timber can teach us. The people of this land built in mud and timber for thousands of years. The buildings are cool in summer, warm in winter. They are cheaper to build, easy to look after, and beautiful. Why are we forgetting the lessons of our ancestors?

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Kōkua Aku Kōkua Mai

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When I am up against deadlines, I find that I constantly learn something about myself as a worker, as a researcher, as a writer, as a person. I was re-reading a Peter Elbow article to prepare for a writing workshop with my student teachers when I came upon one section in Writing Without Teachers where he talks about his process of writing for 45 minutes straight, putting it aside, and the next day writing again. It is a way to let the center of gravity of what you are trying to say bubble up on its own. I decided to try writing for 45 minutes on my article and just see what I was grappling with. Like he said, it was definitely a stream of consciousness mishmash of mostly questions that would hopefully lead me to some kind of direction.

However, instead of sitting on it, I decided at 10:30 at night to send it to a few critical friends who I knew were fast skimmers. What I asked them for was just to point out something poignant, something that piqued their interest as feedback for me and a little more direction from people who had no idea what I was trying to say or not say.

The results this morning were fabulous. The perspectives were different, but I have confirmation of my own thinking and I am challenged to go where I really did not want to go… but now I have to go based on my feedback. I will need to add this to my repertoire of writing process tricks. I will call it kōkua aku, kōkua mai and the trick is really to have handy a few critical friends who are willing to enter into this mutualistic relationship with me.

In Hawaiian, kōkua is to assist. The aku and mai are directional markers, so aku is away from the speaker and mai is toward the speaker. It is a mutualistic relationship because when help is asked for, give it, and when help is needed, ask. It forces me to set ego and vulnerability aside, but also to jump when the same is asked of me. If that is how the world always worked, we would have a really great world.

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