Friday, 6 February 2015

HPSS part 3: Waitangi day

I should have planned this out a bit more carefully, because now I've all but caught up to now. I'll have to start posting insights to teaching and learning or something rather than treating this like a glorified diary. I'm sure I'll think of something.

Today is Waitangi Day, the glorious anniversary of the signing of the founding document of our country. As long as you ignore the earlier Declaration of Independence, which by and large we are happy to do. I think the sky tower is lit up in celebratory black and white, but it's hard to tell.

Black and white and... pink? Do we even have national colours?
Yesterday we had a celebration of Waitangi Day under the theme of 'partnership'. I thought the day was great fun, and from all appearances it was a marvellous success. I'm quite sunburnt, but such is the price for enjoying the outside.

As a New Zealander, I am very proud of our partnership with the Maori people. We colonial oppressors haven't done right by them in the past, not by a long shot, but considering the treatment other native populations faced at the hands of the Spanish in Central and South America, the Belgians in the Congo, and the British literally everywhere else, we have done pretty well. As teachers, we have a special obligation to focus on improving the learning of Maori students. In physics, this is a big challenge. Though a lot of good work has been done on facilitating improved achievement of Maori students in science, I have never seen those principles put into action, and I feel that this is an area in which I personally have a lot of room to grow.

One of the ways in which we can make learning more accessible to Maori students is by using culturally appropriate contexts. This presents a concern in Science, which prides itself (if I may anthropomorphize an entire learning area) on being content focussed. Recently, I have come to see the content not as such, but instead as context for the real learning. The hope for students who have studied physics is not that they remember how to calculate the orbital distance of a satellite or the resonant frequency of a series RCL circuit, but that they can look at a situation analytically, break down a problem into components, and communicate scientifically with clarity. Is there a way we can teach those skills in physics in a more appropriate context? I don't know - I need to think about it some more and my time is nearly up. 

I'll continue on the subject tomorrow I think. Hopefully I will have something more interesting to say.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with the posting of insights. I have been blogging for years now. First as a fashion blogger (I think I have successfully destroyed all evidence of this), and later as a teacher. And I STILL treat my blog as a diary. Yet, people swear they find insight in it. And that is perhaps the best lesson that I think we can learn from blogging. You never know which tiny phrase is the one that someone needed to read to set the gears in motion.

    PS: Stoked you are blogging!