Engaging Māori men in literacy and numeracy
Matua Parkinson (pictured centre) commonly known as ‘Mutzy’ on the Māori television programme ‘Code’, has recently been working with the Ako Tuapapa (embedded literacy and numeracy) team at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Matua has teamed up with Makuini Hohapata, Mereana Parkinson and Mei Winitana (Ako Tuapapa advisors) to co-facilitate teaching of theory with the BCATS (Building, Carpentry and Associated Trades Services) tauira (learners) to trial re-developed embedded teaching and learning resources.
The ako tuapapa team would normally assist the trade’s kaiako (tutor) in his delivery of the newly embedded literacy and numeracy resources. However they quickly discovered that they just weren’t engaging the tauira. The result of lack of tauira engagement affected attrition and ultimately success rates.
The Ako Tuapapa team realised that a lateral approach was needed, and after much discussion about the most suitable method, settled on drawing on the knowledge skills and experience that Matua could bring to the programme.1
Matua introduces himself by talking about his struggle with dyslexia throughout his years attending school and his focus on sports as a coping mechanism. Matua’s fresh perspective offered in the Ako (teaching and learning) relationship has him quoting the following from his own experiences:
“I remember going to this flash hotel and walked into this big flash board room and these three fulla’s presented me with a NRL (Australian National Rugby League) contract, then they asked me what I was worth. So I said ‘excuse me for a minute’ and had to run down six flights of stairs to make a collect call to my father back in Te Kaha (a small rural town in the Bay of Plenty) on a pay phone to ask him what I should do”.
This approach to embedded literacy and numeracy was based on engaging tauira first and in particular the young Māori men who made up the BCATs learner group. Matua provided an example of a high profile role model, who acted as a mentor to tauira over a series of theory lessons.
Deliberate acts of teaching
At the same time he was being supported by experienced teaching practitioners, that is, the Ako Tuapapa technicians or the ako tuapapa team. Throughout this project, Matua worked with the team to create and deliver a number of interactive literacy and numeracy activities. These activities or ‘deliberate acts of teaching’, focused on teaching key terminology or high demand technical words associated with carpentry and trades.
Using his Iphone, Matua demonstrated the ‘level’ application and how technology can be used to assist when traditional tools may not be in arms reach while working on the job. This discussion was key to helping tauira to understand how technology can support their learning and work environment.
One example (below) of a contextualised embedded literacy activity with a listen and speak communication focus was used by Matua to assist with the delivery of a communication unit standard:
Tauira Tauira worked in groups of three and change roles with each role
Play pairs One would act out the role of the speaker, one would act out the role of the listener (receiver of information); and another would be the observer a person in a brief such as;
Role plays included conversations about aspects of the job with:
Old school mate you haven’t seen in five years
Minister of Māori Affairs
The man you hope is going to be your new boss
The man who owns the land you want to go hunting on
The key factors to the success of this innovative programme are identified here as;
‘Kaupapa Māori’ approach, especially the creative and reflective praxis from a Māori worldview, engaged by the Ako Tuapapa team
‘Kanohi ki te kanohi’ Matua’s personality and face-to-face, forth-right approach, using the language of youthful male dialogue
‘Whakawhānaungatanga’ ( team-approach) including the willingness to engage as a team or in small working groups, where tauira safety has already been established
1 Matua has worked with young men in schools and in the sports arena, has worked with young men in prisons, is currently completing a building surveyor’s course, and has skills as a speaker and facilitator, and has a high profile in Aotearoa.