Concepts: What is kaitiakitanga?

Kaitiakitanga means guardianship or caregiving.

Kaitiaki is a New Zealand term used for the Māori concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land. A kaitiaki is a guardian, and the process and practices of protecting and looking after the environment are referred to as kaitiakitanga.

Sometimes people use the term kaitiaki for broader roles of trusteeship or guardianship.

Kaitiakitanga is both a tool and a process. It involves a set of obligations and responsibilities.

This includes a responsibility to those who have come before you as well as those who will come after. Also, its undertaking must result in a positive outcome.

In education, kaitiakitanga refers to the practical doing; rules and tikanga of a particular field. The tutor is the kaitiaki or caregiver of the learner’s knowledge. This implies certain positive responsibilities.

How does this help describe a learner-centred teaching environment?

Kaitiakitanga helps describe a learner-centred teaching environment because it describes the tutors’ role as a caregiver or caretaker with regards to our learners’ knowledge.

In education, Kaitiakitanga can refer to concepts of leadership, mentoring, coaching, care, guidance, nurturing, sharing, responsibilities, and external consultation. 

Kaitiakitanga means an approach to leadership and guidance that includes both the academic and discipline related care; as well as the more holistic and relational aspects where the main concern is for the well-being of others including one’s fellow tutors as well as learners.

When it comes to relationships, Kaitiakitanga should always be mana-enhancing. This means that it should not compromise others’ identities, self-worth, or trigger insecurities.

Here are six questions that focus on applying Kaitiakitanga to your own teaching situation. The focus here is your learners, but it could also be your co-workers:

  1. How do I show my learners that I care about this?
  2. What knowledge and experiences do I have?
  3. What skills and values can I pass on to my learners?
  4. What’s the best kind of guidance I can provide to my learners?
  5. What kind of support do they need through the journey?
  6. How can I best teach what I know?

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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