Make a difference…

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What drives the value I place on making a difference and on our ākonga making a difference…

Proponents of socio-critical discourses have foregrounded critical pedagogy (Culpan & Bruce, 2007; Gillespie & Culpan, 2000; Ross, 2001; Sparkes, 1996; Tinning, 2002). In  education, advocates of critical pedagogy are committed to ongoing reflection and action, as a process for creating change in classroom structures and practices that perpetuate undemocratic life. Furthermore, proponents attempt to develop a culture of schooling that supports empowerment of culturally marginalised and economically disenfranchised students (Baltodano, Darder & Torres, 2003). Critical pedagogy involves questioning assumptions of power, inequalities, and the relationship between power and knowledge. In addition, by acknowledging these inequalities, critical pedagogy aims to empower individuals and groups to take social action for change. Consequently, emancipation and social justice are major goals of critical pedagogues (Culpan & Bruce, 2007; Friere, 1972; McLaren, 2007).

I have written about students making a difference in a couple of posts before…

engage through powerful partnerships ….contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world…

Ākonga making a difference through powerful partnerships.

This is a major driver for me philosophically. I am therefore lucky to be working in a school that has “powerful partnerships” as a main driver and critical pedagogy being applied in praxis, through an on going process of reflection and action. I am excited to be able to work in the “Impact Projects” at school this year and ensure I put this into action so that it is not just rhetoric. The intent of the project is to work with our special needs unit on site here at school “Arohanui” to ensure inclusion for all. To ensure we challenge power relations involving those with special needs and how they are included in society.

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with a focus on the Manaakitanga strand…

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Liz , Cairan and Rebecca make up our awesome project team at HPSS and have developed the curriculum around this to have student voice into passions, interests and needs of our students. The students are currently working their way around sparks over a six week period to get a true taster for what project may light their fire. I am running sparks for students and have tried to do this with the voice of the Arohanui students. Here is the voice of our potential partners…

What has been exciting to me over the past few weeks is that there is great interest from our students in this project. They see this project as a potential symbiotic relationship, where both groups of ākonga benefit from this definite challenge to the status quo. On the one hand, I feel that those who opt into this project have had a sense of empathy from the outset, on the other hand, what an amazing opportunity to develop many other skills and attributes. These attributes and skills may include, empathy, compassion, communication skills, leadership skills, patience, tolerance, acceptance of diversity and many more… The Arohanui students are excited to work with the mainstream kids and it has been rewarding seeing the students after the video provocation, going down and introducing themselves to the Arohanui students, the smiles on their faces as they say their names and introduce themselves has been tear jerking. As all of the seniors in the school are moving through the sparks, they are all learning their names, so we talked to the fact that even if they do not pick the project they can set on the path to greater inclusion by interacting and acknowledging at the least. This is another provocation that I used around #notspecialneeds

People talk of ākonga being citizens of the future, I believe they are citizens now and truly can make an impact locally and globally. I look forward to finding out who is coming into the project, continuing to develop a path based on social action and starting to co-construct with them a way to “make a difference”, knowing in doing so the rewards are great for all….As a final note, assessment will fall out of this around taking action. However, the evidence will be the on going journey of reflection and action of the ākonga as a portfolio and not be used as the main driver…

Baltodano, M., Darder A., & Torres, R.D. (2003). The Critical Pedagogy Reader. NewYork: RoutledgeFalmer.

Culpan, I., & Bruce, J. (2007). New Zealand Physical Education and Critical Pedagogy: Refocussing the curriculum. International Journal of Sport and Health Science 5: 1-11.

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Sheed and Ward Ltd.

Gillespie, L., & Culpan, I. (2000). Critical thinking: Ensuring the “education” aspect is evident in physical education. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 33(3), 84-96.

McLaren (2007). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ross, B. (2001). Visions and Phantoms: Reading the New Zealand Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Journal of physical education New Zealand, 34(1).

Sparkes, A.C. (1996). Research in physical education and sport: Exploring alternativevisions. London: Falmer Press.

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