NAISA = mind blown!
"Yep! Keen as! " I said. Wow. Talk about expectations surpassed. I should have done this a long time ago...heoi anō. So I know that seminars/workshops/wananga/conferences/ hui/circles, what ever you might label them, have been going on since the beginning of hominoid comms began a few millenia ago. Native American
Indigenous Studies Association. If I was to summon an umbrella phrase to wrap up this gathering of compassionate curious people it would be 'the affirmation of future hopes lie in acknowledging the sacrosanct sensibilities of ancient indigenous knowledge - whether black, brown, ochre, white, red, magenta or kowhai...sensibilities lie entrenched in some of those old songs, stories and dances - we just gotta respect it and figure out the syntax (or find the people that have held onto that stuff). I can't say that ALL old indigenous knowledge was great - them vikings seemed pretty brutal ... and female circumcision just seems soooo WRONG!...is that hypocrisy? The first presentation I signed up for was a bit of a let down tbh - the title read 'Can Universities be Decolonial partners' but none of the presenters really contributed to that subject (unless their content was embedded deep down in academic speak which kind of defeats the purpose of conveying knowledge through comprehension).... There was a strong collective campaign around the negative repercussions of colonialism - including the idea that Universities are themselves an instrument of Colonialism...I started to think 'Well māori had our own universities called Whare Wānanga' so how is that different? Obviously ancient māori didn't have SMS Portal, STREAM and student loans back-n-a-day but surely the principles and objectives were similar; the dissemination of knowledge gathered over generations toward the survival and well being of your tribe...isn't that what all learning institutes promote? It's there in the annals of academic intention but maybe it needs to be promoted and acknowledged a bit more. Individual endeavour t'ward highest accolade seems to be a general vibe of today .... or just get through it - 'not good to generalise wazza' True. Is it a cop out to say we all contribute in some way - from the rubbish collector to a heart surgeon. How do we value each of those? Pay bracket? Likes? I digress...
Indigenous Knowledge and Self determination in Education.
Using māori knowledge as a resistance and self determination to decolonise and reclaim our bodies, our children and ourselves.' states Joeline Seed-Pihama). "Long Hair, Don't care - my sons gets hassled and called girls." In māori knowledge, the head is sacred or tapu. Both boys and females have long hair; length of hair has no relation to gender orientation nor masculinity. Menstruation is not a sickness and does not make us dirty. Sometimes called 'the divine river'. Boys and girls had knowledge of menstruation as a collective understanding of the natural world and included wairua or spirit knowledge. "We did not lose our language like you lose a wallet and we did not misplace our knowledge like you do your phone or a set of keys - these things have been forcibly and systemically removed from us for the past 200 years since colonial contact." Māori were forced to take on colonial understanding of our bodies and sexuality. In traditional māori culture, we become parents as a part of a wider community - māori children were raised to not only have 2 parents, but 100 parents (kia matuarautia ngā tamariki) Every adult is a parent.
Most, if not all of the presentations I was fortunate enough to have seen, all generously shared morsels of inspiration, but one in particular stood out to me. Norman Fua'alii Thompson from the University of Hawai'ia is an education instructor in writing and a researcher. Exploring Ocean based metaphors in Composition Pedagogy. Wanting to foster an environment as a form of resistance to support indigenous students while remaining in a western paradigm. Using metaphors to teach. One example Thompson used was the metaphor of fishing using a 'throw net' as a convention for creative writing. He emphasises the importance the thinking process is to practice - Observe, position and evaluate. Observe tide, moon, current, swell seasons; Position ourselves; stance, throw, retrieval of net, technique. Evaluating your catch, critique, did I pull the net too hard on the reef and make holes. He states the importance of writing an introduction (purpose to draw the reader in, present an argument). "You need a bait on the hook that is interesting to the fish." As someone who grew up in Whangarei fishing, diving, sailing I completely understood all of his metaphors and for that I am inspired to research this further - Rarotonga here we come! He uses carving as a revision metaphor. "Keep the shavings. They are signs of human things, keep the mistakes, highlights on your work - they are signs of progress, acknowledged mistakes, relationship between teacher." Thompson has also done research on aligning his course content on moon phases around natural phenomenon - "Students could be considered as plants who react to the moon."
Even just the thought, imagery, romance and proposition of this approach blows my mind. Imagine learning by the seasons or moon phases or other celestial movements like Mataariki...sunny days spent outside planting in the garden, using gardening or surfing or hunting as a metaphor for your creative work; cold winter good for inside the library (or bed) with a nice hot glass of mulled wine. Dreams are awesome...and these indigenous models are sounding better and better with each sip... Mauriora!