Talking about NZ’s embedded literacy and numeracy approach with Indonesian vocational teachers at AUT


Recently, I had the tremendous privilege and pleasure of spending a day at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) talking about literacy and numeracy with a group of vocational teachers and tutors from Indonesia.

The group was large. The image above shows half of the team and I need to paste in a second photo below so you can see the other half. Here we go…


My sincere thanks to Dr Adrian Schoone at AUT for inviting me to join these teachers for a day in their busy schedule. Adrian also deserves credit for the two photos above.

These vocational teachers and other support staff were here on a two-week study tour in October looking at how we teach trades and vocational education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

And as part of our introductions and whakawhanaungatana (getting to know each other), I asked them all to place themselves on a giant map I had projected on the wall.

As you can see below, they came from all over Indonesia – from the West to the East.

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For my part, it was a brief and hopefully fun introduction to literacy, numeracy and the embedded approach that we’ve developed here over the last 10 years.

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We had a play with some of the online tools that we have in New Zealand for literacy and numeracy as well. Luckily, AUT had a computer lab big enough to house us all for an hour or so.

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My students for the day were friendly, engaged and worked hard to transcend some of the language barriers between us.

One of the most interesting things for me was realising how integral approaches from Te Ao Māori are now to any discussion I want to have about this work.

Concepts like ako and tuakana-teina seemed to really resonate with the group and their own cultures.

In fact, some had questions about how they could incorporate aspects of their own indigenous ways of knowing and being into their teaching practice.

Just on that note, according to Wikipedia:

  • there are over 300 ethnic groups speaking more than 700 living languages across the vast Indonesian archipelago.

So these weren’t questions I felt could readily answer, but hopefully, they will open a door to further positive discussion back home.

This, in turn, should feed into the work these excellent teachers are doing to invigorate and reinvigorate vocational education in Indonesia.

Overall, it was an excellent day,  I loved spending time with this group and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

To my new friends and colleagues:

  • Assalam ‘alaikum. I wish you all the best with your work in Indonesia and hope our paths cross again at some stage.



Author: Graeme Smith

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

11 thoughts

  1. Ka mau te wehi Kereama heio ano, you hit the nail on the head around Te Ao Māori practises, can be implemented into any culture. At least you ignited their flame around how they can use their own culture to deliver tuakanateina and any other aspects of Te Ao Māori for transformative practises in Indonesia
    Mauri Ora

    1. Kia ora Makuini. Thanks for that…! I appreciate your comment my friend. I feel I’m still very much a learner here myself. But the little that I know, however imperfectly communicated, just seemed to make so much sense. Nga mihi, Kereama

  2. Very cool Graeme! I think this shows that embedding LN can be done with any reo and any kaupapa and any culture.
    Sometimes we forget the value of what we’ve built in Aotearoa.
    I’ll be showing this around at mahi tomorrow.

    1. Thanks Rachel. I would have loved to spend a bit more time with them or perhaps tag-team on the facilitation with others. Lovely people to work with and open to the ideas.

  3. We can learn so much from other cultures and vice versa. Manaakitangata, Tuakana Teina, Ako, Whakapapa, Mana tangata, Mana Atua, Whakapapa are all evident in the esol classroom Their culture reflects it and creates that richness of belonging , sharing and caring. I learn so much from my learners and admire their resilience in adapting to a new country.

    1. Kia ora Anne. Yes, you are right. When I was an ESOL teacher I didn’t know these words in Maori. But what they stood for was there in the diversity of the learners that I had in my classes as well.

  4. Hi, kia ora. Thanks Graeme…nice to meet you at AUT, may you still remember us, indonesian teachers and it is very interesting to be developed in Indonesia.

    1. Kia ora…! It was a lovely day with you and the others. Hopefully, one day we can do a follow up workshop. I hope that you can take some of the lessons learned here in NZ and apply them to your own context in Indonesia. There is lots of scope for a flexible approach where you can embed literacy and numeracy, and do it in a way that is culturally appropriate as well. All the best with your work. Lets stay in touch. Cheers, G

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