by Steve Saville and Rebecca Thomas
On Friday the MOE released the pedagogical approaches for teaching literacy, communication and maths. Reading through its inspirational pages and philosophies is a proud moment for educators who have battled for culturally responsive critical pedagogies to be at the forefront and centre of how we do business in the classroom in Aotearoa. The consultation and working body that supported this document must be feeling elevated.
The Call to Adventure
As we turn its promising pages we find Critical Literacy being the common thread that weaves together the literacy and maths approaches. Helping our young people contribute and participate in society means equipping ākonga with the skills to interrogate common discourse and information from their socially constructed and digital worlds; a noble cause and exciting prospect. Before us all lies a magical journey that will help us to arm our vulnerable students with agency and insight.
Enter stage right, the Refusal of the Call
The trepidation we have as we embark on this journey is the hesitation that we are not quite ready. Tools we need to equip our teachers with appear to be missing from the armoury. The ‘how’ will be on everyone’s lips as we stare longingly at the prize.
Meeting the Mentor
Ultimately this common practice model will be piloted in schools during 2024, so that the MOE can evaluate what tools and resources are indeed needed to support this pedagogical journey. The worry here is that this departure has been scheduled at a time when teachers have been pushed to the wire and their tanks are running on empty.
Admittedly, information that is dribbled out in bite sized pieces is to prevent us from feeling overwhelmed, however, it is actually beginning to build anxiety in schools as too many parts of the puzzle are missing from the messages being rolled out. Uncertainty and frustration is now the tipping point, the critical threshold, that is wavering and unbalancing the scales against the desire for clarity.
Teachers want to do the refresh justice, they are excited about the messaging, but their reality is also lost in the business of the classroom. They don’t have the pleasure or time to use foresight and meet the oncoming challenges with calmness.
Crossing the Threshold
To help alleviate some of the pressure, the feeling that resources do not meet the current needs or demands of teachers, and to support educators to understanding where to begin, Engaging Learning Voices has been listening quietly in the wings, building resources from the ground up that will support schools to make sense of this ‘how’.
Test, Allies and Enemies
If we examine what has been unfolding in schools, the challenges our teachers and students have been facing (the enemy), in its most simplistic form, is the desire and need for educators to understand and know our young people, and vice versa, not only the desire and need for our young people to be known and understood by our educators, but most importantly to understand themselves.
The resource that follows is a simple starting point to delivering the big ideas within the common practice model. We will release one each term to help you prepare. It is an ally on the pedagogical journey ahead. This term you will find three stories, told from the world view of our students. These particular stories tackle the role of influencers, A.I, and bullying. After each story follows a structure for the students to unpack and make sense of themselves and their place in their world.
Understand: understand themselves, understand their world, and understand others in their world
Know: know resources and data can be manipulated and know how to protect themselves
Do: take action for themselves and take action for their community
The following resource is available to download on April 1st, (you can pre order your request now if you like). It is easy to use with your students. Its pages are designed to resolve some of this conflict and it will help provide both students and teachers with the ‘how’. Give yourself time and space to test some of your assumptions and unpack the meaning of critical literacy together.
Hopefully this ally, this resource, will give our educators some relief as they edge closer to the ‘inmost cave’, the hero's journey ahead continues.