Fonofale Pasifika: 6 Essential Factors To Create the Best Chance of Success

How do you create success for Pacific learners?

This is part of a series on learner centred teaching.

The Fonofale is a holistic, Pasifika model of health and wellbeing. As with Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā it comes from the healthcare sector.

You can use it to create success for Pacific learners.

Where does it come from?

The Fonofale Pasifika model was created by Fuimaono Karl Pulotu-Endemann (2009). Pulotu-Endemann is a Samoan-born, New Zealand-based academic and nursing professional.

What’s it for?

As with Te Whare Tapa Whā it’s designed to help you think about health, education or other aspects of life in a more holistic way.

What is it?

It’s a visual representation of Pasifika values and beliefs. We use the Samoan fale or house to describe the important factors of healthy development. Here are the parts below.

The foundation

This is the extended family – the foundation for all Pacific Island cultures.

The roof

The stands for the cultural values and beliefs that are the family’s shelter for life. This can include traditional as well as western ways of doing things.

The Pou (posts)

These connect the family to the culture. They also depend on each other. They are

Spiritual

This relates to the sense of wellbeing that comes from Christianity or traditional spirituality or a combination of both.

Physical

This relates to the wellbeing and physical health of the body.

Mental

This relates to the mind including thinking and emotional wellbeing as well as behaviours.

Other

This includes other things like gender, sexual orientation, age, social class, employment, and educational status.

Fonofale Pasifika: 6 Essential Factors To Create the Best Chance of Success

Around the outside

The fale is surrounded by a protective layer. This includes:

  • Environment. This relates to the relationships that Pasifika people have to their physical environment. This can be rural or urban.
  • Context. This dimension relates to the “big picture’ for Pasifika including socio-economic or political situations.
  • Time. This relates to the actual or specific time in history that impacts on Pasifika people.

How is it relevant?

It’s relevant because you can use your knowledge of the Fonofale to enhance your teaching. As with Te Whare Tapa Whā, this knowledge is not limited to just working with the people groups it represents.

This approach is also relevant because it will help create a learning environment that is culturally safe for Pasifika learners.

What does it mean for me?

If you identify as Pasifika, the Fonofale is a framework that allows you to talk about how you probably already work with your learners.

If you are not Pasifika, the framework allows you to see your learners, particularly your Pacific Island learners in a different way, perhaps closer to how they see themselves.

Some questions to think about

Here are some questions from the learner’s point of view to help you focus on each part of the Fonofale model:

  • Do I have support from my family to do this course? (Family).
  • Does this course connect with my Pacific cultural values and beliefs? (Culture).
  • Do I have the resources to do this course? (Physical).
  • Do I believe that I can do this course? (Spiritual).
  • Can I cope with the workload? (Mental).
  • Is there anything that’s going to get in the way of my goals here? (Others).
  • Are my surroundings, including home and work, going to help me achieve? (Environment).
  • Can I afford to do this at the moment? (Context and time).

Implications

It may not always be possible to always attend to all dimensions of the Fonofale for all of your Pasifika learners. But one big implication is that if you have learners who are struggling, or who are not engaged, then the Fonofale may help you work out where the problem is and how to deal with it.

But one big implication is that if you have learners who are struggling, or who are not engaged, then the Fonofale may help you work out where the problem is and how to deal with it.

Interested in more?

For more on Learner Centred Teaching please check out these resources of mine:

What is Learner-Centred Teaching – 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success

Discover time-honoured approaches to learner-centred teaching

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Here’s a secret. It’s totally possible if you discover and embrace time-honoured concepts from Te Ao Māori – the Māori world. This book is for you if you want to teach or train in a way that is more learner-centred or if you want to learn to think in a more holistic way. Read more here

CHECK OUT WHAT IS LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING? 12 CONCEPTS FROM TE AO MĀORI YOU SHOULD EMBRACE TO CREATE LEARNING SUCCESS BY GRAEME SMITH

Click the link below to find out more about What is Learner-Centred? 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success

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Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner-Centred Teaching

Find out more about three of the fundamentals of adult teaching

Have you ever thought about how to improve your teaching? Have you ever wondered what it takes to create learner success in any teaching environment? Well, you need three things. Make that four things… You need to:

  • Understand what people mean when they talk about “learner-centred” teaching.
  • Know how to leverage your learners’ prior knowledge.
  • Have simple ways of increasing the motivation of your students. 
  • Know what learner agency is and how to develop it.

Read more here.

CHECK OUT THREE SIMPLE APPROACHES YOU NEED FOR LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING BY GRAEME SMITH

Click the link below to find out more about Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner Centred Teaching – Proven Ways to Use Prior Knowledge, Increase Motivation and Develop Learner Agency to Pave the Road to Learning Success

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8 thoughts

  1. Thank you Graeme. This is a huge help for me and will be for many of my learners.

    Hope all’s well with you and your whanau.

    Cheers T x

    Tracey Brake 021 605667

    1. Thanks Tracey. New territory for us with the new version of the qualification. Thanks for the support and feedback. All’s well on our side. All the best for 2017. Cheers G

  2. it has gender, sexual orientation, social class, educational status, employment for one of the post (Others) can you explain to me why

    1. HI there. Yes, it does seem like a bit of a catch all. I didn’t create it so I can’t comment as to the rationale. If you google it you’re likely to find a bit more. The creator is Fuimaono Karl Pulotu-Endemann. I’m sure there are journal articles out there that give you the details if you have a look.

    1. There are lots of similarities… For one thing, both use the metaphor of a whare/fale to illustrate the framework. You should compare the four walls of the tapa wha to the pillars of the fale. Cheers, G

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