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Recognising potential

Filed under: Productive partnerships

Tags: Te Mana Kōrero



Mason Durie – Deputy Vice Chancellor Māori, Massey University

Māori parents might expect that their children are going to be... nuclear scientists, or physicists, or great people, or wonderful musicians. Teachers may expect that Māori children may not be going to do very well. And I think there is sometimes a different expectation. And it may be the other way around. Teachers may expect that there’s a particular child that’s got huge potential that needs to be unleashed; some whānau may feel that that’s just building false hopes for their particular child, and they may not carry the same level of expectation. So the potential for expectations to be different is quite high.

Many of our Māori parents didn’t necessarily enjoy school, or have good experience with school, and may well relate to the school on that memory. And it may be that they’re a little bit apprehensive when they’re approaching schools. It may also mean different aspirations – that the aspirations that teachers have may be quite different from the aspirations that whānau have for their children. And they may be talking about cross purposes for some time, until they discover the common thread that is binding them. I think the more that the educational process is able to focus on the realities that the child lives in, whether it’s the cultural realities or the spiritual realities, then the more likely it is that there’ll be some congruence between parents, whānau and schools. But often that congruence doesn’t exist, and that creates a problem for both groups, I think, for teachers as well as for whānau.

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