How do you integrate indigenous cultural values and worldview with business and education?

In Aotearoa New Zealand, we have been working hard to strengthen vocational training, especially for our indigenous Māori groups as well as Pacific Peoples.

This includes a focus on both young people and adults.

And by “we” I mean the collective we.

This “we” includes government agencies involved in funding and quality assurance, independent research and development organisations, private companies, tertiary education organisations and a pool of experts with deep domain knowledge.

To do this, we have been designing, delivering and testing adult education resources and training designed for the foundation learning and vocational workforce since 2006.

By foundation learning, we mean learners, workers and others who need support with language, literacy and numeracy.

And these learners often need this support provided in a way that is culturally relevant or appropriate.

Mainstream educational values and system haven’t served these learners well and they need support to become productive members of society.

We’ve used indigenous Māori approaches to help create the conditions for learner success and better teaching.

And we’ve done this by strengthening ESOL, literacy, numeracy and other skills in the context of technical and vocational education with Māori values, approaches and concepts woven through the delivery.

This has been an imperfect and organic process.

Sometimes things have worked well and sometimes they haven’t.

Sometimes we’ve needed to value knowledge and skill sets that have been unrecognised.

And listen to voices that have not been well heard.

And sometimes we’ve needed to reinvent the wheel.

But we’ve learned a lot about all of this especially when it comes to engaging our learners and workforce, but especially our Māori and Pacific learners.

Since this work started in earnest more than a decade ago we have endeavoured to:

  • Strengthen adult literacy and numeracy in vocational training using the tools and resources we’ve tested and developed with Māori and other groups here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Leverage Māori and Pacific approaches to achieve learner success.
  • Incorporate ESOL, literacy, numeracy, employability training, upskilling, reskilling and cultural competencies based on Māori and Pacific values.
  • Build an infrastructure based on a $170m investment by the NZ government encompassing online and other tools and resources.

The work continues at a pace. But it’s time to level-up. And we’ve got some new questions moving forward.

And this time by we, I don’t mean the collective we. I mean some of us who are intent on looking beyond the immediate audiences here at home in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Here’s a couple of questions we’re pondering:

  • Does knowledge and practice gained here in Aotearoa New Zealand generalise to elsewhere in the world?
  • Can we use the lessons learned here working with iwi Māori to support indigenous development in business and education in different contexts elsewhere in the world?
  • How do you work with others to help them integrate their own indigenous cultural values and worldviews with business and education?
  • Who would benefit from this kind of approach?

We don’t have any answers yet. But we have some ideas.

If you’re interested, let us know in the comments.

Author: Graeme Smith

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

4 thoughts

  1. Can we use the lessons learned here working with iwi Māori to support indigenous development in business and education in different contexts elsewhere in the world? Yes. Maybe, to improve the rigor of those lessons they could be elicited using an indigenous methodology like a conversation method.

  2. Again, awesome post Graeme.
    I’ve been following your visit to Taiwan, with a great deal of interest. I am very interested in being involved, in some way, whatever that looks like.
    I have just started my first online ESOL teaching gig, teaching young children in a large school in southern China (I’ve needed something flexible this year, with the eldercare commitments I currently have on my plate). It’s quite a learning curve, but I’m trying to use as many of the concepts gleaned from the embedded LLN world as I can (words+images+hand/body movements+songs+games+short conversations), within the constraints of an online environment. It’s no-where near perfect, but an intriguing journey!
    I have also started training as a Davis Dyslexia facilitator, and hope to add that certification to my kete by the end of 2019. Again, the Davis method focuses on using visual and kinesthetic pathways to learning, which aligns with a lot of what seems to work for Māori and Pasifika learners, and presumably other indigenous learners.
    Keep up the awesome work!

    1. Hi Rachel. That sounds awesome…! Ka pai you. You’re a great teacher and this is a very cool gig. I’m quite keen to go to mainland China at some stage too if I can. I’m also thinking of starting a kind of email list at some stage that relates specifically to this work including things that I probably wouldn’t post on my blog. It’s probably a way off yet, but I’ll send you an invite when I get set up. Thanks again, G

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