What is Ako? A Māori View on this Powerful Teaching and Learning Kaupapa

This is an excerpt from an upcoming eBook and collaboration by Aroha Puketapu with Graeme (Kereama) Smith. Watch this space for more…!

What is ako?
What is ako?

What is ako? Ako is a transaction between the akonga and kaiako, teacher and learner.

Picture a triangle.

  • Tapatahi – On the first side, the teacher has something to give. This is mātauranga.
  • Taparua – On the second side, the learner has something to give. This may include time, attention and, yes, fees or payment.
  • Tapatoru – On the third side, all aspects of both kaiako and tauira lives are added to holistically.

What is ako? What Improvements will you see?

These holistic improvements include the following:

  • Hearts (manawa): we are moved by life’s experiences, stories, facts, examples, and narratives.
  • Minds (hinengaro): we change our thinking by understanding new information. At its peak, changes our actions and behaviour.
  • Body (tinana):  We physically grow neurotransmitters in our brains.
  • Spirit (wairua): The epicentre of one’s being, the home of the spring of life, is enhanced.

The transaction is reciprocal in nature.  There is mutual respect in the action of giving and receiving. All positions of power and authority are surrendered and any mistreatment of either party is non-existent.

What is ako? What kind of environment will it create?

This makes for an environment of gratitude. This includes:

  • The gratitude of being selected to learn.
  • The gratitude of having one to teach.
  • The gratitude of the knowledge passed down from others before both kaiako and tauira.

We must remember that no one has the monopoly on knowledge when all are created and knowledge is a gift from the Creator Io Matua.  We are contributors certainly but not owners of the whole.

In my experience teaching formally I observed colleagues who would systematically mark tauira down on their papers for turning up late to class. This was part of standard criteria which lecturers were expected to use.

I watched brilliant educators take great pleasure in marking their learners down for being late.

They somehow took offence to seemingly irrelevant life situations of their tauira interrupting their work.

This is not ako. This is ego-driven practice.  And it’s set within an elitist system driven by mean-spirited thinking.

These educators didn’t seek to understand the situation that made their tauira late.

Often times the fact that many are even in attendance, given the pre-class challenges faced, should be a complement to the kaiako that they arrived at all.

It’s the koha you are given.  The receiver of a gift shouldn’t determine the type of gift. That is for the giver to determine.

This is an excerpt from an upcoming eBook and collaboration by Aroha Puketapu with Graeme (Kereama) Smith. Watch this space for more…!

For more on ako click here.

Author: Graeme Smith

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

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