Colouring in the White Spaces:  Reclaiming Cultural Identity in Whitestream Schools

Dr Ann Milne

Dr Milne’s presentation, based on her Ph.D research and Kia Aroha College’s practice, points out that while New Zealand’s official education strategy for Māori learners talks about educational success “as Māori” schools and the education system confuses what this means, and institutionalised practices and solutions actually work against this goal.  She describes the school’s changes to support academic and cultural learning to develop “Warrior-Scholars” through a Critical Pedagogy of Whānau.  She challenges us to find and reflect on the white spaces in our own thinking and practice, and to actively work towards changing them.

The Infinite Game of Education

Dr Niki Harre

Imagine if life was a game, an infinite game in which we continually changed the rules to keep our deepest values in play and ensure that everyone could take part.

In this session we will explore life through the lens of an infinite game. The object is to understand current social structures that limit progress towards human and ecological flourishing and the vital role that schools, tertiary institutes, other organisations, individuals and communities can play in creating a better world. 

This will involve:

  • Experiencing an infinite game workshop and learning how to run this workshop in your own setting
  • Learning about the core values that we all share
  • Considering the types of games played in the educational and other organisations you belong to and how these can be expanded, improved or subverted


Inspiring empathy through story

Jo Buchan - Senior Specialist Developing Readers
Rosemary Tisdall – Team Leader Reading Services for Schools

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Stories are powerful vehicles for helping us make sense of the world, developing empathy and connecting us with others and ourselves in a way that facts alone may not. The best picture books do this through a combination of rich language and illustrations or, in the case of wordless picture books through illustration alone.Picture books aimed at older readers, ‘sophisticated picture books’, often deal with very human issues, values, emotions, relationships and/or global issues, such as refugees, making them ideal resources for developing empathy and exploring values with older students across the curriculum.

This session will explore why and how picture books can be used in secondary schools for stimulating empathy and curiosity, inspiring questions and sharing ideas.

Responsibility and Global Citizenship Education

Libby Giles

What does it mean do be a global citizen in the absence of a unified politics or a meta-sovereign? Rejecting hierarchical models of political order, global citizenship education (GCED) links directly to the principles of universal responsibility: it is people’s actions that define and legitimise citizenship of the world.

Located in all aspects of school life, inside and outside the classroom, global citizenship education does not sit within one learning area. It is embedded in the ethos of the teaching, learning and pastoral care of a school addressing humanising practices such as cultural diversity, peace, justice, sustainable development, and environmental protection. Future focused, GCED enables students to seek knowledge and insight, make ethical decisions, think critically and creatively, gain confidence and broaden their horizons.

Repairing humanity: Ethics and Crispr-Cas 9

Dr Lynne Bowyer
Dr Deborah Stevens

The thinking that underlies the biological concept of human beings explains a person in terms of their physical parts, and how those parts function together to make up the whole. This explains being human in abstraction.  In this biological story, physical parts are ‘normalised’ according to their structure and function. This means that parts can be said to be working well or not when compared against standardised norms.  When a part is deemed to be outside normal functioning, attention goes to finding a ‘biological fix’ for that part.

In recent times, significant amounts of funding have gone into the biological science of genetics. With a focus on structure and function, many researchers in this field have pursued ways of altering genetic information in order to ‘normalise’, ‘enhance’ or ’fix’ a ‘genetic part’ that is seen to be a problem.

The current iteration of such genetic manipulation is CRISPR-Cas9.  Based on a biological system used for millennia by bacteria as part of their immune system, CRISPR-Cas 9 can recognise, precisely target and remove a sequence of DNA.  CRISPR-Cas 9 technology can be used to remove ‘ab’-normal heritable conditions and to select for certain traits.  The science and technology of gene-editing is here, but the ethical discussion about its appropriateness is lacking. 

There is little in our education system that is preparing our young people for the ethical dilemmas raised by rapidly developing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas 9. This is because the same sort of ‘scientific’ thinking and approach underpins our education system: young people are seen as functional parts that come together to form the structure of a whole society, that has been constructed and normalised in a particular way. The ‘parts’ of the society are judged against standardised norms to ensure that they are equipped to keep the wheels of the system turning. The ‘parts’ are not required to engage with and critique the system; they are just needed to maintain it.

In this presentation Lynne and Deborah will use gene-editing as an example, in order to broaden and deepen thinking about our human condition, what we are teaching and the way we teaching. In order to rehumanise education we must recognise that we do not live lives worth living in abstraction from communities of unique people who dwell in a particular place and time. We, therefore, should not teach in abstraction: whatever is taught in a school requires teaching and learning in a way that engages in a responsible way with the fragile and remarkable world we share with others.

Prisons and pedagogy: Rehumanising education and power with learners at the edge

Dr Armon Tamatea

One of the roles of prisons is to prepare incarcerated individuals for resettlement into citizenship. Similarly, one of the roles of education is to prepare learners for the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. In this sense, both institutions serve developmental, moral and political functions. However, prisons and prisoners present unique challenges for educators - irrespective of whether they work in these spaces or not - because these contexts can offer extreme professional and practice situations that may provoke reflections of participant's experiences in contexts where power, pedagogy, and transformative learning are central concerns. For instance:

  • Prisoners can present with complex needs and have a lower average level of base skills in literacy and numeracy, may have aversive experiences in school settings, experience higher rates of mental health problems, as well as the emotional process of working through the sentence itself;
  • Prisons can present specific hazards for many individuals such as disconnection from family/whanau and community, involuntary detainment and close proximity to strangers (some of whom may pose threats of violence), uneven employment opportunities, and competing demands for prisoners in these sites that interfere with continuity of learning (e.g., transfers); and,
  • Prison-based education can present with constrained aims such as a reliance on technical training in a market-driven and credentialized context, rather than one that promotes leadership and public service.

Taken together, these combined challenges may serve to not only frame a learner's identity as an individual with multiple needs and deficits, but also reinforce a notion of alienation from the community and citizenship.

In this presentation, Armon will use the interface between prisons, prisoners, and education delivery as departure points to discuss issues of pedagogy and human agency, social responsibility and alienation, and engage deeper prospects of democratic and humanised education with learners who are in overt and asymmetric power relationships. Participants will be invited to reflect on their own observations of power and share ideas.

Does Humanisation Depend on your Postcode?


Kia Aroha College Warrior Researchers

In 2015 the Warrior-Researchers of Kia Aroha College asked Dr Leonie Pihama for her understanding of those two words, as Māori. She told us that, in her view, “seeking to live as Māori is a process of humanisation, a process of revitalising ourselves as tangata whenua, a process of regeneration of te reo, tikanga and mātauranga Māori - in order that we may know ourselves more fully, and may live in all societies as Māori.”
In 2018 the researchers have explored the question, “What gets in the way of that process?” In particular, how does racism in our education system, and in our daily lives, impact on us as urban Māori and Pasifika youth? How do schools manage to assess us as being less capable than our Pākehā peers, when we know we are just as intelligent? Does humanisation depend on your postcode? What needs to change?

What Price Citizenship?


Willie Ropata

As we pursue the lofty goals of global citizenship and humanisation, how do we ensure the cultural connectivity that defines indigenous identity is neither diluted nor lost altogether? Who gets to shape what citizenship looks like and whose values, ideals, emotions and relationships are at the core of our future society?
This presentation will offer some personal (albeit informed) reflections on Dr Ann Milne’s presentation, suggesting that a critical culturally responsive pedagogy is a powerful tool to prepare the young warrior scholar for global citizenship without compromising their cultural identity. Young people are able to rely on their indigeneity as a means to navigate the melting pot of global disorder.