Weaving histories into local curriculum

Issue: Volume 100, Number 12

Posted: 23 September 2021
Reference #: 1HAPpb

Education Gazette looks at how Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School is working with its community to incorporate the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content into its local curriculum framework.

An inquiry project about rongoā sees tamariki engaging in learning that is relevant to them and their place.

An inquiry project about rongoā sees tamariki engaging in learning that is relevant to them and their place.

Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School principal Bruce Jepsen is excited about what’s happening with The New Zealand Curriculum refresh. “This is the most transformative time that I’ll ever be a part of,” he says.

Bruce is president of the Māori principals’ association Te Akatea and it was through this role that he became involved with Te Mātaiaho, the Bicultural and Inclusive working group for The New Zealand Curriculum refresh, and Te Ohu Matua, the reference group for the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, set to be implemented by schools next year, is part of the Social Sciences learning area of The New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum refresh will be phased over five years with an emphasis on making sure it is bicultural, inclusive, clear and easy to use.

He Kākano

One of the things that struck Bruce during his work with Te Ohu Matua was how the histories content could be readily implemented into his school’s existing curriculum framework, He Kākano.

There are three components central to He Kākano at Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School: whakapapa, which is about a learner’s identity and their connection to time and place; whenua, which is about place-based learning; and taiao, which gives emphasis to the environment and kaitiakitanga.

Every aspect of learning is explored through these three lenses.

“So when we approach maths or reading or any of our essential learning areas, or even our key competencies, we do it through He Kākano. Our maker space has undergone a transformation – everything relates to whenua, whakapapa, taiao. If it doesn’t fit He Kākano, then we don’t do it,” says Bruce.

“It’s about tying in real-life situations in our own place. We’re not reaching out trying to create some crazy context to make it work. It’s relevant and can be linked to whenua, whakapapa, taiao.”

The rongoā project encompasses a range of different curriculum learning areas.

The rongoā project encompasses a range of different curriculum learning areas.

Relevant learning

In this way they can explore how Māori lived a sustainable life; exploring the changes to the land over time, engaging in sustainable practices like recycling, composting and seed saving, and engaging in enterprise relating to rongoā (traditional Māori medicine).

They would construct an historical sequence of changes to the land and practices and show how long ago some of these things happened.

The rongoā inquiry is an example of how learning spans different areas of the curriculum at Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School, says Bruce.

The project incorporates maths and science learning as ākonga work with an electric garden, measuring soil acidity and moisture levels, graphing and tabling their findings. Research, evaluation and entrepreneurship are just some of the skills at play here. Most importantly, the project occurs within a relevant, localised context through the He Kākano framework.

The histories curriculum content weaves naturally into the framework. Bruce gives the example of exploring the history of the local area, Te Rae o Pāpāmoa, and what that looks like at different year levels.

“What’s significant about that whenua? What took place on those maunga? How did they get their names?

“What other opinions are there about what we should be learning about Pāpāmoa as a rohe from a mana whenua perspective?”

Keeping it age-appropriate

There are clear progressions across the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content. “So, when we’re talking about Te Rae o Pāpāmoa, for example, we’re thinking: what do we want our children to understand at the end of Year 1? At Year 2, Year 3 and so on?” says Bruce.

“We’re mindful of children’s maturation and their ability to take on information and understand the world we live in. That’s what the curriculum is all about. When you’re unpacking something new, it’s about ensuring that it’s getting the right messages across in the right learning, and at the most appropriate age.”

Ultimately, we’re focused on what tamariki will have completed after their schooling at Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa and how this readies them for their formative years, says Bruce.

“We’re supposed to be socialising children into the world that we live in, in the most effective way and helping them develop and reach their potential. That’s what the curriculum is all about.”

In partnership with Iwi and community

Bruce emphasises the importance of including the wider community in the process of developing the school’s local curriculum. Te Ākau ki Pāpāmoa School worked with its staff, iwi, parents and whānau to co-construct He Kākano as a vision.

“Our existing and flourishing relationship with Ngā Pōtiki Iwi is critical as respectful exploration of history privileges the knowledge, narratives and cultural practices of mana whenua,” says Bruce.

Deputy principal Dorothea Collier and teacher Kim Horne led the design and implementation of He Kākano, before a working party of 10 kaiako formed to flesh out the detail. The school’s existing ‘Know Me Before You Teach Me’ approach provided a solid foundation.

“The focus has always been: how do we create a framework that’s flexible enough for us to be creative but also structured enough that we can make sure we’re getting coverage of the learning?” said Bruce.

And it’s about keeping whānau as part of the ongoing conversation around curriculum and learning, he says.

“We’ve had such good feedback from whānau. We’re hearing a lot of commentary around what parents are learning with their children about our local area.”

Bruce believes the success of the framework is down to the fact that identity is at its heart, that each child is able to relate to their own learning.

“It’s about unpacking the identity of every individual. Everyone has whakapapa. You don’t need to be Māori to have whakapapa.” He points to the guiding whakatauki of He Kākano: E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea | I shall never be lost, I am a seed sown from Rangiātea.

The bigger picture

The rongoā project encompasses a range of different curriculum learning areas.

The rongoā project encompasses a range of different curriculum learning areas.

But Bruce believes the value of the curriculum changes underway extend well beyond the individual and have the ability to make deep and positive system-wide change.

“This is an opportunity to better understand how our past has shaped our current reality. It’s important to get an understanding of why this inequity between Māori and non-Māori has come about, so that young and old become aware of the historical events that have generated those intergenerational cycles of disadvantage.

“Māori front-end a lot of social and economic indices that aren’t positive – like prison and health, for example – if we address those, that puts our country in a better position to address a whole lot of other things as well, not only from a cultural perspective, but in every shape, way and form.

“Our responses to those inequities will mean that the promises of Te Tiriti might finally be realised in Aotearoa and that will be a celebration for all.” 

Implementing the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content

From 2022, the final Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Takanga o Te Wā in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, will be taught in all schools and kura.

Want to know more?

Visit Aotearoa New Zealand's histories and Te Takanga o te Wā(external link) or email AotearoaNewZealandHistories@education.govt.nz

Support guides and resources are available to help schools with their implementation journey at Social Sciences Online - eZSSOL (tki.org.nz(external link))

Kura can find supports and resources to help with their implementation journey at kauwhatareo.govt.nz(external link)

National Curriculum Refresh

Over the next five years the Ministry of Education is undertaking a refresh of the national curriculum, which includes The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and Te Takanga o Te Wā marks the first step towards the changes in the respective curriculum documents.

Information on the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum can be found at education.govt.nz(external link), and on the redevelopment of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa at Kauwhatareo(external link)

Understand, Know, Do

In the next issue we will look more closely at the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content – specifically at the new ‘Understand, Know, Do’ structure and the progressions model, exploring how these can be used to support rich curriculum learning.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:40 AM, 23 September 2021

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