Monday, February 20, 2017

Exciting News!

--> This is very exciting news. The following three New Zealand books have been translated into Chinese, they are: 

1.Assessment in early Childhood Settings: Learning Stories by Margaret Carr

2.Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee

3.Learning in the Making: Disposition and Design in Early Education by Margaret Carr, Anne Smith, Judith Duncan,Wendy Lee, Carolyn Jones and Kate Marshall 

Learning in the Making has made the Chinese list of the top 100 books that are influencing teachers in 2016. This list was initiated by the Chinese Education News Network, and the Chinese Education Press Agency is the supervising board of this network. 

The list was decided based on readers' feedback, major educational book publishers’ recommendations and a group of expert judges’ opinions. 

There are 6 catagories of the books:  educational theories, educational psychology, teachers’ professional development, early childhood education, general education, and culture. 

“Learning in the making” is one of books chosen under the early childhood educational books category. It is one of only 9 early childhood books that made the list and it rates number 52 on the list of 100.

All of the chosen books were published in 2016, and they are regarded as high quality books and have good influences on teachers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Have Been Reading........ Kathryn Delany

Ruta McKenzie shared this important quote with us, “The culture of the child cannot enter the classroom until it has entered the consciousness of the teacher” (Samoan saying).
This quote makes me wonder: How does the culture of a child and their family and whānau enter my consciousness? I think people, books, reading and practicing new things have been a large part of my bi- cultural journey.
So... having put my hand up to review some books  I was left thinking what books have been most important to me on my journey towards bi- culturalism?
And there are many. Both books for adults and children have been part of this journey for me. Thinking of the notion of this Early Childhood Education setting as being a place of learning and teaching I have taken many opportunities in reading books and using resources with children that have enhanced my use of Te reo Māori, ngaTikanga Māori and understanding of Te Ao Māori.
We have a list of great books on the ELP Website’s resource section with small reviews and guidelines about each book’s content ( LeadershipProject_Resources_Books_Maori.php).
It was very hard to select one or two books but here goes: 

My favorite book and one that I consider essential to all teachers is Te Wheke by Dr Rangimarie Turuki Pere CBE. Dr Pere shares her wisdom and understanding in every word. It has been a read that supports the culture of the child to enter my consciousness. Even if you have read this book already I recommend keeping it at hand and dipping into occasionally.
This book is especially useful if you use the concepts (chapters) for pedagogical discussion topics to grow bi- cultural teaching and learning practices.
Choose one concept (e.g. Aroha, Mauri etc.), read it as a team and then have a discussion framed up by “What are the implications for my/our practice here?” 

In the Beginning by Peter Gossage is my next choice. It offers learning opportunities to adults and children alike.
In this delightfully illustrated and written book Peter Gossage introduces us to the creation story. To Papat
ūānuku and Ranginui and their children. The illustrations are vivid and the text flowing and brief.
I hope you enjoy some rich exciting reading experiences that provokes and inspires us to support all children’s whakapapa and funds of knowledge and to draw in to our consciousness their culture. 

The Māori Creation Story and the Learning Child- Tania Bullick

My ears pricked up recently when I heard Carlos Santana, being interviewed on Seven Sharp, liken the production of his art to that of giving birth to a baby. The Seven Sharp presenter questioned that idea, presumably to acknowledge that nothing could compare to giving birth to a baby, but I understood Carlos Santana’s sentiment - he meant to produce art, such as music, there was a struggle, a time of uncertainty and difficulty that needed to be persisted with over time and through many ‘contractions’ to eventually produce something quite beautiful. My ears had pricked up because this is what I understand the kaupapa or philosophy of Te Whatu Pōkeka: Kaupapa Māori Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars (Ministry of Education, 2009) to be, told through a familiar tauparapara which likens the birth of a child to the creation of the world and then to the learning child. It acknowledges the creation of the world and the birth of the baby and the learning experiences of a child all require times of uncertainty and difficulty, great struggle and persistence through many contractions to eventually reaching a point of realisation, clarification and enlightenment. This is a view of learning that we, in early childhood education, are also hearing from Carol Dweck, Margaret Carr, Guy Claxton and many others.

Te Whatu Pōkeka suggests that the Māori creation story offers us a metaphor for the learning child and offers the tauparapara to illustrate: 
 Before the missionaries came to Aotearoa New Zealand to introduce Christianity, Māori had a multi-deity belief system - they believed in many gods. We are all familiar with some of these gods such as Tāne, god of the forest and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Though the creation story can be told differently, depending on the iwi, many tell of 72 gods who were produced within the embrace of Papatūānuku and Ranginui. This is a view of the world that we can embrace as we teach in Aotearoa New Zealand for many reasons, not least to honor our commitment to Article 4 of the Treaty of Waitangi that states that Māori customs and religion will be protected. The tauparapara suggests that in teaching and/or supporting the Māori creation story, we are weaving a rich whāriki for the understanding of the spiritual life of Māori while holding up a metaphor for Māori ways of knowing, being and doing.

Many teachers’ understanding about the Māori Creation Story has been through reading, re-reading and exploring with the tamariki, the picture book In the Beginning by Peter Gossage (see also Kathryn’s book review in this newsletter). He has also written and illustrated the stories of Maui, which are all accessible to young children and their teachers alike. Though simplified and shortened, Peter Gossage’s In the Beginning remembers many of the elements of the story including the discussions and negotiations of the gods about whether or not to separate the parents.

This is the beginning of the struggle, the contractions that Te Whatu Pōkeka’s tauparapara speaks of, first there was peace in the darkness, then the struggle began. The struggle or contractions took a long time and manifested in many ways - much like the process of giving birth. First there was the at times heated debate between the gods as to whether it was necessary to separate their parents, then there was the shear effort to push them apart and once the parents were separated there was war between the gods. Peter Gossage’s book does not include the war that followed the separation but it is an enthralling part of the story which explains many aspects of nature and is worth further reading - there are many beautifully produced anthologies of Māori stories.
The final phase of the story is the eventual peace, enlightenment and prosperity the struggle produces. Each god becomes responsible for an aspect of nature and with their special gifts go on to produce the female, ‘Hine Ahu One’ who originates the phrase ‘Tihēi Mauri ora’ when she sneezes as she comes to life. It is this production of the human female by the gods, all responsible for aspects of nature, that links Māori directly to the earth, Papatūānuku, both physically and spiritually through their whakapapa.
Te Whatu Pōkeka tells us that just as the creation story of Papatūānuku and Ranginui and the conception and birth of a baby have three distinct phases of (1) seedbed for new beginnings, (2) challenge and (3) enlightenment, so does the child in our care learn and grow through:
  1. (1)  Mōhiotanga - What a child already knows and what they bring with them highlights new beginnings, new knowledge, new discoveries
  2. (2)  Mātauranga - This is a time of growth for the child. It demotes a phase of increasing potential, negotiation, challenge, and apprehension when dealing with new ideas.
  3. (3)  Māramatanga - This is when a child comes to understand new knowledge: a phase of enlightenment, realisation, and clarification.” (Te Whatu Pōkeka, p. 49)
This is a view of the child that holds such richness. The child, seen as linked to Papatūānuku by right of their whakapapa, accompanied by their rōpū - their group of supporters, both seen and unseen; a child full of potential who can be encouraged to struggle and persist with difficulty through many challenges to a place of new knowledge and realisation.

So, dust off your copies of In the Beginning and dig out, borrow or purchase the many other tellings of that story and explore the narrative for yourself as much as for the tamariki. Better still, speak with the Māori families at you centre and in your community to hear, learn and honour their stories. You will find it enthralling and your enthusiasm will be contagious as you tell and retell, share and explore the very story that the Māori children in your centre connect with through their whakapapa and that we all benefit from through being citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Puritia ngā taonga a ngā tūpuna mō ngā puāwai o te ora, ā mātou tamariki.
Hold fast to the cultural treasures of our ancestors for the future benefit of our childen.” (Te Whatu P
ōkeka p. 51)
Ministry of Education (2009). Te Whatu Pōkeka: Kaupapa Māori Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars. Wellington: Learning Media.

Tania Bullick 

Irresistibly Engaging! Lorraine Sands

I last chatted to Loretta Lepa from Samoa Taumafai A’oga Amata (Tokoroa, New Zealand) she was bursting with excitement and by the time she finished telling me her news we were both laughing and crying together. The reason: For the last two and a half years the teachers at Samoa Taumafai have been writing Learning Stories telling their children and their families what they think about the learning progress they see happening in their setting; their A’oga.
This has been a celebration of what children can do and the more the teachers have written about the learning they see, the more connected their culture of learning and teaching has become to the children’s passions, energies and spirits. They have discovered that tapping into what really matters to learners activates a thirst for learning, that takes learners to the edge, where they stretch their skills and knowledge. This happens because they are intrinsically motivated through habits of learning that have been nurtured inside learning communities, intentionally designed to enable these dispositions to flourish. Habits like curiosity, persistence, empathy, kindness and determination. It is never the other way round.Skill teaching alone goes no where near children’s passions,energies and spirits. If you want proof of this, read Stratosphere 2or check out Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “Bring On the Revolution”. These fabulous teachers have been deeply immersed in the learning revolution that Ken Robinson, Michael Fullan and an ever growing number of people refer to as education fit for the twenty-first century.
The vehicle the Samoa Taumafai teachers have been using to spread this meaningful learning, enabling partnership with their children and families, is the children’s folders, full to the brim with stories of achievement, struggle, fairness, kindness, collaboration and heaps of effort and practice to achieve the goals children set themselves. They’ve done this, all the while valuing their language, culture and identity and made this happen in ways that connect with their families. How do we know this? The news Loretta and I were crying about because it was so fabulous, was their Learning Story Portfolio night when 60 parents and their children came to share their stories together and celebrate learning!

The new Pasifika Strategy’s 2013-2017 goal is five out of five success! The A’oga is licensed for 30 children, 60 families at an evening like this hits the stratosphere for successfulness. They had never had this many people attend before, so the word is out! Irresistibly engaging is what these photos sing to me. Congratulations Samoa Taumafai learning community. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An Educated Nudge - Lynn Rupe

Last year I heard Guy Claxton speaking in Rotorua. During his seminar one of the teachers present suggested that they could stand aside to allow the environment to teach the children. Guy Claxton replied that while the environment is certainly a teacher it is the teachers job to give the children an ‘educated nudge’. That is, to take the learning a little deeper. This has stuck with me over the year as I have thought about the part teachers play in the emergent curriculum.
The term emergent curriculum has been used for quite some time now and still there is confusion around what this might look like for teachers. Or some teachers are still unsure where to
start planning using an emergent curriculum approach. I have been reading the book ‘The Play’s the Thing’ by Jones & Reynolds (2011) and in there they define the emergent curriculum as:
“a seeming paradox: an intentional course is implied by the use of the word curriculum, derived from the Latin currere, meaning to run a course or make one’s way around a known route. But paradoxically, the course of this curriculum is not known at the outset. It is emergent - that is, its trajectory develops as a consequence of the logic of the problem, the particular connections that develop as participants bring their own genuine responses to the topic and collaboratively create the course to follow out of these multiple connections.” (Wein, 2008, pp.5-6)

When I read this definition of emergent curriculum I can see quite quickly how this could be a very confusing term. On one hand it talks of knowing the path that will be taken however, the emergent part of the phrase means that there is no definite path to be taken. There are a couple of words that really stand out for me in this definition these are - own genuine responses,
 collaboratively and multiple connections.
Firstly let us think about the two words, curriculum - the known part, and emerging - the unknown part. As teachers often we know the path educationally and developmentally that we want children to take. We know the stages of development, social learning, mathematical concepts and literacy and skill acquisition that need to be part of the curriculum therefore we already have a determined pathway to follow. I think this is where the environment sits. It is up to the teacher to plan for an environment rich with possible lines of inquiry and research. An environment that will assist children’s developing understanding in all curriculum areas. This is the knowledge we bring with us in our kete.

However, what we do not know are the energies, passions and spirit that children bring with them everyday into our settings. Sir Ken Robinson’s closing words in one of his TED talks are, “everyday children lay their dreams at our feet, and therefore we should tread softly”. This is the unknown part of the path. This is the area that ‘own genuine responses’ sits. As teachers it is part of our professional practice to set up an environment that invites children into experiences based upon the knowledge that we have in our kete and the kete of the children. It is the genuine responses from the children that allows these experiences to grow and for new learning pathways to flourish. Also this is when we are listening to what children are saying with their words and actions and considering possibilities and opportunities for further learning based on the energies, passions and spirit that the child brings with them, in their kete.
Children’s and teacher’s kete are filled with past knowledge and experiences, passions, dream and interests all of which when put together create a path that has yet to be walked as combinations each day will be different. The emerging interest can come from what each person within your centre brings by way of passion, knowledge or interest. Wendy Lee once said in an article about leadership in early childhood that “People are drawn to the enthusiasm, passion and energy of others.”
Sharing our interests and passions with children can inspire them make a genuine response of interest. There are other areas as teachers that we draw on, Jones & Reynolds (2011) write that “Curriculum also emerges from the things, people, and events in the environment, and from all the issues that aries in the course of living together day by day.”
Having heard the ‘genuine response’, dream or passion that children have shared then together teachers and children will consider ways in which this can be grown. Collaboratively children, teachers and families will find multiple ways of deepening the learning for children. This collaboration can be kanohi ki te kanohi or through assessment of the learning, as Fleet, Patterson & Robinson wrote in their book Insights:
“Teachers, children and families are able to interpret, reflect and contribute to the happenings of the kindergarten because documentation (learning stories) invites a dialogue among them. This dialogue creates multiple perspectives and interpretations.”
This is where the ‘multiple connections’ sit. It is a space that teachers create which allows everyone to talk about what learning is happening, what passion is being investigated and how this can be shared across differing areas of a child’s life.
Thinking back to Guy Claxton and the educated nudge - adding this to the environment and the passions, energies and spirt that children and teachers bring to their day, you have a wonderful recipe for the emergent curriculum. An example of how using an emergent curriculum approach works was given by Sir Ken Robinson in an article when he wrote about Hans Zimmer an Oscar-winning composer who loved to play the piano but was not interested in rote learning. Many schools tried to educate Zimmer through their education model of curriculum area defined learning - and he was thrown out of eight of them.
The move to an emergent curriculum means taking the environment, the passion, energies, spirit and interests of the children, teachers and whānau and giving it that ‘educated nudge’ from the teacher (or the child) so there is a deepening of learning.


Working towards a Growth Mindset

In a short video clip that Lorraine Sands took of her friend Hunter challenging himself on a rope swing, we can hear her, in the background, say “Do you know I’ve been watching how much you’ve been practicing and look what you can do now. You put a lots of effort into that. Well done.” Lorraine says this with such kind enthusiasm and celebration and Hunter now has the tools and strategies, of practice and effort, to apply to his future endeavors knowing he is up to the challenge. Contrast this with a child praised for their ‘beautiful painting’ who then proceeds to do that painting over and over again, who research suggests may not take the risk of trying new medium in different ways to grow and progress their art.

Barbara Coloroso in her book Kids Are Worth It! suggests parents and teachers use encouragement and feedback in the form of compliments, comments and constructive criticism to replace rewards and praise. She also suggests we suspend our own judgement and simply say “Tell me about it” and listen to understand the child’s perspective - it might be different to your own. Teachers I work with agree that this takes awareness, effort and practice - a growth mindset!
Tangible rewards offered to children to perform a task other than very simple ones, backfire and do not create the intrinsic motivation we desire for children. Daniel Pink who has written the book ‘Drive’, says of intrinsic motivation, “We do things because they’re interesting, we do it because they’re fun, we get better at it and because they make a contribution.” Barbara Coloroso writes that rewards rob children of this kind of creativity, autonomy, sense of well-bing and connectedness. She says children will do good because it feels good but when the sticker is introduced, doing good is no longer it’s own reward, it is the means to get the sticker. They have an addictive quality and the more children need or want rewards the greater the effect. Children become reward and praise dependent, the effects of which can have serious ramifications throughout their lives. In the Youtube clip ‘To Praise or Not To Praise’ Barbara says “Reward and praise dependent children don’t have that inner sense of ‘I’m an ok person and I’m connected to other human beings and we both matter’. Praise and reward dependent kids think ‘it’s all about me’.”
Alfie Kohn suggest that, as teachers, we need to ask ourselves what it is we want, long term, for the children we teach. Just as Alfie Kohn does with thousands of teachers, I have started to discuss this with teachers I am working with and unsurprisingly they say they would want children to be things like kind, empathetic, caring, curious, life-long learners, creative, happy and responsible. There is never any mention of compliance - these teachers do not see compliance as a valuable disposition for these children’s future. Once we have a strong sense of what it is we do want for children, and what is valued learning in our place, we can go about cultivating an environment which supports those things - this may take some time and research. The books and web based resources below are a fabulous place to start. 

Coloroso, B. (2002) Kids are worth it!. HarperResource:New York
Dweck, C. (2006) Mindset. The new psychology of success. Ballantine Books:New York Kohn, A. (2006) Beyond discipline. From compliance to community. ASCD:Virginia, USA
•To Praise or not to praise
•Daniel Pink. What really motivates workers
•TED Daniel Pink. The puzzle of motivation Websites:


Friday, February 10, 2017

To Praise or Not to Praise - Tania Bullick

Recently I have been talking with teaching teams who have been grappling with the ideas around rewards and praise and what that means to and for children. Giving children stickers, stamps and sometimes food for tasks such as tidying up, for showing kindness to a friend or for having their nappy changed can be accepted practice by well intentioned teachers. Verbally rewarding children with praise such as ‘Good job’, ‘Beautiful painting’, and ‘I am proud of you’ can also be common practice. It is understandable that people might feel this is beneficial to children as society has encouraged reward and praise since the self-esteem movement began back in the 1960s, and some programmes continue to advocate tangible rewards and abundant praise.
Scratch the surface however and the research is clear. Rewards and praise (the verbal version of a gold star) just like threats, punishment and bribes, work to get children to do what we want them to do, to comply, in the short term, but do nothing to encourage “our children to become ethical, compassionate, creative, competent individuals, who have a strong sense of self, know how to think and not just what to think, who are naturally curious about themselves and the world around them, who don’t ‘do to please’ and are not easily led, who are willing to act with integrity” (Coloroso, 2002).

Carol Dweck’s research and work on mindsets has shown that the words we choose to use will effect the child’s mindset. The research found praising a child for how smart they were resulted in children giving up, unable to take a risk on more difficult tasks for fear of not being seen to be smart should they fail or make a mistake. They were also prepared to lie and cheat to cover up their perceived failures. However when children were praised for the effort they put into a task, they were willing to take risks, acknowledge and overcome mistakes and persevere with effort in the face of obstacles. This growth mindset enabled children to see learning as something that happens over time and involved challenge.
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