Zena Sherani (left), Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE, winning the 2019 Faculty Teaching Excellence award and 2019 Winner of VC’s Prize for Teaching Excellence with Russell Bishop, Emeritus Professor of Māori Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand at Japan- Pacific ICT Multi- Purpose Theatre, Laucala Campus, University of the South Pacific.
The University Forum on Learning & Teaching, with the theme “The Best Possible Outcome for All Learners, was held at Japan- Pacific ICT Multi- Purpose Theatre, Laucala Campus
, University of the South Pacific on 29th August.
USP hosts this annual forum on learning and teaching, showcasing innovation in learning and teaching, and provides keynote addresses from internationally renowned figures in higher education.
Ms. Sherani was also announced the 2019 Winner of VC’s Prize for Teaching Excellence.
The Keynote address was delivered by Russell Bishop, Emeritus Professor of Māori Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Russell Bishop, Emeritus Professor of Māori Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand at Japan- Pacific ICT Multi- Purpose Theatre, Laucala Campus, University of the South Pacific.
He is well known for directing the development of Te Kotahitanga, a large New Zealand Ministry of Education funded research and professional development project from 2001 to 2012. This project demonstrated how teachers and other school leaders could improve the educational achievement of Māori students in mainstream classrooms by implementing a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations.
Prof. Bishop has delivered over 100 keynote addresses, nationally and internationally, has attracted approximately NZ$32.5 million in research and development contract funding in recent years, and has won numerous awards for his work including a recent Order of New Zealand Merit (ONZM).
His presentation was about how we can include those currently marginalised in education by creating extended family-like contexts for learning, in ways that are culturally responsive, in our classrooms and learning settings.
During his address, he said, as social creatures we are wired to connect and our very well-being and mental health relies upon our developing positive and effective relationships.
“Recently I was at one New Zealand University, and the Faculty of Arts found that most of their Māori and Pacifika students are having a lousy experience. They found the one word that kept coming up was ‘disconnection’. There was a disconnection between teachers and the students, in other words there was no relationship,” said Prof. Bishop.
“However, imagine the impact upon us if we are not able to form positive relationships and if the relationships we do form are mostly negative and toxic. Yet that is what marginalised students tell us is happening to them in classrooms in many other places across the world. The biggest influence upon student’s education outcome was the relationship they had with their teachers. They said if we go for Maths, it’s because we like the teachers and not because we like Maths.
“Often many of us end up on various positions in education and it wasn’t the fact that we love the equation but was the fact we get along with the teachers. The parents also said the quality of the relationship we have with the school and the student with the teachers have the biggest impact upon their educational achievements outcome. The school principals said the same thing.”
He said leaders of learning create a family- like context for learning by rejecting deficit explanations for learners’ learning, which means deficit explanations are not used to explain learners’ difficulties and agentic talk is clearly articulated, and learners are encouraged as they succeed.
Prof. Bishop added that errors and mistakes are seen as being opportunities to learn, not insurmountable problems and learners’ language, culture and heritage are seen as assets and not as hindrances to learning.
“These multi-generational collectives of aspirations, experiences, and practices that make up our connectedness, remain central to our lives. It is in our extended families where we learn to love others, to care for and be cared for, to develop expectations and strive to meet them. It is where older, more knowledgeable others know what we need to learn and how we can best learn important cultural practices and culturally-generated modes of making sense of the world,” he emphasised.
He said that teaching to the North-East is not used in a geographical sense, but a combination of moving 'East' on a relational continuum and 'North' on an interactional continuum, and monitoring from the North-East position responds to evidence of the impact of these practices on students' progress, in this way, allowing relationships and interactions to be modified and improved.
“The combination of these dimensions improves learning outcomes for marginalised learners."
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