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Friday, 26 April 2019 05:46 am

Maori students engaged in authentic learning

TE Aho O Te Kura Pounamu – The Correspondence School is offering a new program which has been successful in helping Maori years 11-13 students engage with school.

 The program is called Authentic Learning and focuses on finding out what students are good at rather than what they can’t do.

Authentic Learning is open to all students, but the main enrolments have been Maori, says Mike Hollings, pictured, CEO of Te Kura correspondence school.

Almost half of Te kura’s fulltime role of 8300 are Maori and many of them have been alienated from the regular school system says Mr Hollings whose own tribal origins lie with Waikato-based Ngati Raukawa.

Mr Hollings says authentic learning encourages students to find out what they are passionate about and work towards a job in that area.

Once they have decided what they are interested in they prepare for a Gateway Programme placement internship by interviewing potential employers.

They may then go job shadowing – following around a potential employer to see how they spend their day.

“Even if the process goes no further than the interview they haven’t wasted anything because in that process they’ve learnt interview skills how to make reports and may have done a photographic display,” says Mr Hollings.

Once interviews are complete, students may undergo a Gateway placement- This could be in a local business, voluntary or community organisation, sports club or marae.

After the internship of 12 weeks, students return to class and present a report on their experiences.

“Our job is to fit all the academics around that, so what are the things the students needs to know to do that authentic real life task,” Mr Hollings says.

Afterwards, the teachers decide what NCEA credits the student has fulfilled during the internship.

Throughout the program students are supported by a learning advisor, a workplace mentor and their whanau.

Mr Hollings says offering a hands-on course offers challenges to Te Aho – which is traditionally a distance learning educator.

Te Kura has set up learning centres around the country so students can be taught face-to-face by learning advisors or Kaupapa.

Each kaupapa is responsible for 15 students in their area.

Mr Hollings says Authentic Learning is based on the Big Picture Learning philosophy which has been successful overseas.

“We’ve had varying success. We’ve certainly noticed that the students are far more engaged but it’s a little bit early to find out when their achievements have improved.

“What we do know is that in other jurisdictions, America and Australia for instance, where this program operates it is successful.”

The Big Picture Learning Group says in American schools that use its system 94 per cent of students graduate compared to 52 per cent in other schools.

Some international critics of the programme say Authentic Learning is ineffective at teaching mathematics as it does not give students the opportunity to constantly practice and learn through repetition.

The 2010 National Education Review Office Evaluation raised concerns that some schools are not providing a suitable learning environment for Maori.

The report says that despite widespread information and support available, a substantial proportion of schools do not make effective use of data to improve classroom programmes and school-wide systems to promote success for Maori.

Although schools engagement with the Maori community has improved overall, a sizeable minority of schools have limited consultation with Maori parents and whanau , and do not value Maori parents engagement in their childrens learning, the report says.

According to a survey from Education Counts, only 48 per cent of Maori students gained NCEA level 1 compared to 69 per cent of non-Maori.

In year 12, 70 per cent of non-Maori students achieved NCEA level 2 compared to 53 per cent of Maori students.

Non-Maori year 13 students had a 57 per cent pass rate, compared to a 35 per cent pass rate for Maori.

Only 29 percent of year 13 Maori students achieved university entrance while 54 per cent of non-Maori got it.

In 2009, the year the survey covers, Maori made up 22 per cent of a 167, 000 strong school population.

“It’s not a secret that Maori students have not done as well as others in the school system and it’s not that schools aren’t trying their best.

“We haven’t really worked out the magic that is going to ensure that Maori students are as successful as the rest of the population,” says Mr Hollings.

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is is a whitireia journalism student
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