The loss of bicultural and relation-centred paradigms in New Zealand education and ongoing discrepancies in students' experiences and outcomes
Keywords:education history, education policy, Māori students' experiences, critical theories
The term paradigm lost (with apologies to Milton) references the lost opportunities arising from a discrepancy in both what the New Zealand education context promises and what is implemented in many schools. Honouring the Treaty of Waitangi inherently promises an education system that draws on the worldviews of both Māori and Pākehā. We argue that the schooling model, adopted in 1877 and substantively unchallenged since, does not reflect the views of the uniqueness of every child as contained in the heritages of both Treaty signatory partners. More concerning is that the accompanying assimilatory practices within schooling have perpetuated their disastrous impact on Māori. This article explores the impacts of the ‘lost paradigm’ on students’ sense of self and therefore on their sense of belonging at school. The potential and hope for paradigm regained is also presented, drawing from the responses of educators who have participated in a professional learning and development course, where participants engage in a process of conscientisation, resistance and transformative praxis, that changes both their personal educational practice and that of their school. Through this course, participants experience what Freire (1996) refers to as ‘radical hope’ – the belief that we can make life better for others and change the paradigms that lead to oppression and despair.
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