Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I had the privilege of listening to Melissa Osmond, from Greerton Early Childhood Centre in Tauranga, speak at the Learning Story Conference in Hamilton recently.  Melissa had shared how Learning Stories were an amazing vehicle for sharing learning in a multitude of ways.  

I was particularly taken by the analogy Melissa used of a pie and Learning Stories.  She spoke of how each piece of pie needs to be individually robust, no crumbling crust, lack of flavour or runny filling, for the pie to be successful.  The same can be said of a child's portfolio, the Learning Stories contained within must also be robust, with no spelling or grammatical errors, lack of analysis of learning or depth.  

Melissa's message was about the importance of producing quality documentation, one that identifies a teacher's ever growing understanding of teaching and learning and that shows planning, evaluation and continuity.  

Have you thought about encouraging your colleagues to edit one another's Learning Stories while in draft? This process not only creates opportunities for feedback but professional discussions, where teachers can contribute their ideas and thoughts and it's a wonderful way to not only ensure that the documentation is robust but also has depth. 

We need to ensure that each piece of documentation filed within a child's portfolio can not only stand on its own, as a fabulous piece of assessment, but also contributes to building up the picture of the child as a whole.  As teaching teams we need to take time to reflect on the portfolios of our tamariki. Is what's contained inside a reflection of them?  Does it show who their friends are?  Does it contain Learning Stories that celebrate what the child knows a lot about?  Does it show how teachers have fostered the child's strengths and interests?  Does it include their whānau?  Food for thought!  
Meri Kirihimete

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tōku reo tōku ohooho

How wonderful and inspiring the day was at the recent Learning Story conference in Hamilton.  I had the great pleasure of being able to listen to Brenda and Miria from Mana Tamariki.  This year I have been very interested in Te Reo Maori within ECE and beyond.
I have started to research the effects of language on culture thinking about which comes first.  After listening to Brenda and Miria I am starting to see that they are inseparable.
As Brenda and Miria spoke I began to more deeply understand that there are ways of learning and knowing that are just not describable with English and can only be spoken of with Te Reo Maori and vice versa there are ways of using Te Reo Maori that can only happen when there is a deep understanding of nga tikanga Maori.
Brenda and Miria spoke of the traditional oriori and the traditions woven around the use of these very meaningful chants.  One of these chants was all but lost until a recent discovery of the words and again it as been revived and brought back to life by those able to express the heart felt meaning behind it.
John Banks many years ago said that we have lost the battle with Te Reo Maori and all we can do is hold onto the culture.  (or words very similar to that)  Through passionate people like Brenda and Miria surely that battle will not be lost as they ignite in others the desire to do justice to a language that hopefully will never die.
Ane leid is ne'er enough - my scottish whakatauki - one language is never enough.  How true that is in New Zealand.  My reflective question is this- is language without nga tikanga Maori understanding tokenism and therefore is nga tikanga without language also tokenism?
Tōku reo tōku ohooho - My langauge, my awakening.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Traditional Christmas Tree

When Mason and Zane visited yesterday the Christmas Tree was up and bare except for its sparkly underwear of lights.  The boxes of treasures waited for us to dress the tree.  I said to Zane ‘What one shall we put on?’ and without opening the box quick as a wink he said ‘the blue man and the red man’. We couldn't believe our ears. He’s not three yet. He was twenty-two months old last Christmas and he remembered his favorite decorations. What a stunning memory. Human beings have stunning memories.  We looked in the box and there they were waiting for him to put on the tree. He showed them to Mason his brother. Mason was inspired to crawl to the tree and they put the men from Russia on the tree.

Well, I think it is traditional that I write a Christmas Tree blog now for the third Christmas in a row.  I have been reflecting on tradition. The dictionary tells us  it is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. And here we have been decorating the Christmas Tree all together. Look how much my grandchildren have grown. They get to help decorate. 

So... the tree isn’t looking so ‘adult’ this - maybe more eclectic than other years but in many ways much more traditional as we grow, share and transmit our memories.  Here we are talking about and revisiting through the prompts of the Christmas Tree decorations. We are  growing traditions by sharing memories, feelings for and with each other. We talked about; The heart your mummy made at Brownies - The time I was in Germany - squashed into beautiful little Christmas shop in Freiburg with my friends -  The ‘king’ star decoration Hawaiki remembered from last year - The time my nan and pop gave us some christmas tree lights when I was little - Pipiana’s best is ‘golden ball’ though I notice the dolls from Russia are interesting too - The elf from their great aunty Anna who loved their Nana so. 

Memories are shared and the decorations once again this year have the power to prompt  the ‘rememberings’ that now become the stories for another generation to revisit. The memories are shared in the stories and the memories are stored in the feelings.  Maybe it is not about the ‘red man’ or the ‘king’ or the ‘golden ball’ - maybe just maybe it is about being with a Nana who tells stories and trusts me to put the precious decorations high high up on the tree. Maybe one-day they will say ‘Remember when Nana Kathryn ...’.  Maybe just maybe it is all about love - the kind of love that is traditional. 

Wendy shared this quote from Maya Angelou with us “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Best wishes for many new memories and the opportunity to create ‘rememberings’ and traditions with your loved ones this year.