Niho Taniwha – An Adaptable 9-Part Framework for Promoting Strength and Resilience in Education

Niho Taniwha - A Framework for Promoting Strength and Resilience in Education
Niho Taniwha – A Framework for Promoting Strength and Resilience in EducationNiho Taniwha – A Framework for Promoting Strength and Resilience in Education

Introducing niho taniwha – The teeth of the taniwha

This is an idea for discussion. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now:

  • What’s a model that allows us to bring together all the things that we know and do in education including the infrastructure tools and support mechanisms?

Here’s a possible answer above. I’m not an expert on Māori design, but this just seemed to click for me.

Strength and reslience

Meet Te Niho Taniwha… or “The Teeth of the Taniwha”. Niho Taniwha can symbolise – among other things – strength and resilience.

This is how I currently see a way forward that allows us to integrate and encompass all that we’ve learned in foundation education since 2006.

Dealing with a “Wicked Problem”

I’ve recently called education a “wicked problem”. In short, this means that education is a problem that has no easy solutions and often we have no way of knowing whether we’re even on the right track to a good solution.

What we need are solutions that have some bite, if you excuse the extended metaphor and pun.

What we’ve lacked in our search for solutions is a way to conceptualise the whole…. To pull all the parts together in a way that is coherent.

Frameworks of professional standards might not be enough

Looking to frameworks of professional standards is part of a solution, but as good as this is it doesn’t really encompass the bigger picture which involves various support mechanisms and practical tools for working with learners.

My model above seeks to bring together everything that is required for a professional standards framework but sitting on top of a system of practical tools and support mechanisms including professional learning and development (PLD) and Communities of Practice (CoPs).

We need a system of practical tools and support mechanisms as well

The practical tools and support mechanisms are customisable in the sense that you could swap them out for different tools and resources depending on the context.

But because my context is foundation learning above, the tools across the bottom include the TEC infrastructure for foundation learning: The learning progressions for adult literacy and numeracy, the assessment tool and Pathways Awarua.

Would this model work in a higher education setting? I think so. Here’s a more generic model that could be customised for a university or polytechnic:

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Different components could be swapped in across the bottom layer of the tapatoru including other tools, platforms, resources and initiatives.

The top two layers still align with professional standards frameworks including the HEA system or variants like Ako Aronui.

Wider sector capability building

Te Niho Taniwha would make a great framework for wider capability building across the education sector. But even if no one thinks this is a good idea, it has provided me with a lens for analysing what’s happening across educational contexts when it comes to understanding and comparing capability building approaches.

Any thoughts please let me know in the comments.

Hat tip: I’d like to acknowledge and thank Veranoa Hetet (@whaeavee) for kindly answering my questions on twitter about Māori design including the use of triangles and showing me what Niho Taniwha looks like.

What do you think about Niho Taniwha?

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Author: Graeme Smith

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

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