An Educultural Approach to Classroom Management: Integrating Body, Mind and Heart

Article excerpt

Background

This paper explores the challenges of a demographic transformation that calls for a conjoining of two imperatives; healthpromoting education programmes, and access to basic and more meaningful culturally responsive pedagogies in schools. In recent years there has been a clarion call for educators to develop sensitivity and sensibility toward the cultural backgrounds and experiences of Maori students. This resonates with the philosophy of Physical Education New Zealand (PENZ) -Te Ao Kori Aotearoa - a professional organisation and incorporated society for people interested in promoting quality physical education. PENZ provides opportunities for people to develop knowledge and understanding about all aspects of well-being for students and teachers. The 2009 PENZ conference promoted the notion that developing this knowledge and understanding might be summed up byway of its conference theme, Thinking Bodies - Moving minds. It is argued here that the heart, too, is an essential component of this mix. This argument will be qualified and reinforced by describing the practice of two culturally responsive teachers, one in New Zealand and the other in the United States.

Research Design

The notions that inform this paper have been drawn from two of my books that were published by NZCER in recent years; the former entitled Kia hiwa ràl Listen to culture: Maori students' plea to educators (Macfarlane, 2004) and the latter entitled Discipline, Democracy and Diversity: Working with students with behaviour difficulties (Macfarlane, 2007). I also turned my attention to selected literature - both national and international - that is at the interface of culture and education. The first step in the process was to interact with the noted studies from the United States by Geneva Gay (2000), Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994), Pauline Lipman (1995), and Cecelia Pearce (1994). Subsequent to that, several New Zealand studies, including the works of Russell Bishop and Mere Berryman (2006), Jan Hill and Kate Hawk (2000) and Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Bronwen Cowie, and Ted Glynn (2009), and Sonja Macfarlane (2009), were considered.

The summary reports on these studies were part of a larger quantity of fie Id work and analysis, often comparative in nature and always with an emphasis on culturally responsive practices. Largely, these are an analytic exposition of prior research efforts that were not limited to particular methodologies. For this paper I have purposely reduced the number of focal subjects or units of analysis - from a wide range of learning communities, to the interactions within one classroom at a secondary school in New Zealand, and another in the United States.

Focus of study

This study is organised around one main theme or concept that is central to, and permeates throughout, the Maori world - that of manaakitanga. Fundamentally, this core concept represents an ethos of caring. Three dimensions that cut across this theme of manaakitanga are that:

1 . it is a cross-cultural phenomenon; those from other cultures, including the exemplary teachers in this study, demonstrate manaakitanga in their practice;

2. in terms culturally responsive teaching and manaakitanga add heart, to the head and the hand;

3. culturally responsive teaching that is cognisant of the concept of manaakitanga offers higher quality instruction in terms of functional, managerial, and emotional support for students.

An ethos of care

Showing respect or kindness is the quintessence of manaakitanga, according to Williams (1 971 ). Ritchie (1 992) expands on this definition to include the notion of entertaining', or being hospitable and kind to guests - that is, caring for them. This is endorsed by Barlow (1 993), who explains that the purpose of manaakitanga is to remind the host people that they should be kind to visitors who come to the marae. Barlow goes on to say that "the most important attributes for the hosts are to provide an abundance of food, a place to rest, and to speak nicely to visitors so that peace prevails during the gathering" (p. …