Friday, November 27, 2015

Ako Aotearoa Academy symposium - day 2

Day begins with Dr. Peter Coolbear, director of Ako Aotearoa providing an update on the tertiary landscape. He discussed - what's on the horizon for NZ and Ako Aotearoa. Stressed importance of cooperation due to increasing sector complexity. Summarised current challenges : integrity of funding system and fundees; validity of NZQA quality assurance processes being questioned; TEC trying genuinely consultative on mew models of investments; productivity commission review; expectation that domestic demand to fall; employability still on agenda; renewed push for international education; and inherent assumption that tertiary education can fix socio-economic deprivation. 
Encouragement to contribute practitioners view when productivity commission seeks feedback. Look at recent review of social services as an example. Covered Ako Aotearoa objectives for 2016. There is need to demonstrate impact; re focus project funding - with need to rationalise 'gaps' in regionally funded projects, re invest in dissemination of project recommendations to push change etc.; use strategic fora to drive change; becoming semi-independent; Expand work on evaluative self assessment; support professional accreditation of practitioners. 

James Patterson leads a session on "the outward looking face of the academy". Shared overview of the work done to publicise the academy. Refresh of the imagery and material providing academy information. Shared potential new and brochures. New website launched. 

Professor Angus Macfarlane presents on "looking back at 50 years of Maori education" or nga tapuwae o mua, mo kura - food steps from the past, informing the future. Covered briefly historic icons, recent thinkers, knowledge areas, ways of knowing, examples of culturally responsive education, summary of more recent thinkers, the discourse of diversity. Posed challenge to all academy members to accept responsibility assist adding value to Te Ao Maori. In particular, truths tolerated, data sought, experiences tasted, assumptions challenged. Reviewed historical colonisation impact on Maori, Maori education and current lobbies and organisations supporting Maori initiatives. Increase of 'conscientization' to accept Maori streams of consciousness with a convergence of streams of knowledge and consideration of culturally embedded streams. Need to destory the past negative experiences and restory positive success. Need to ensure Maori perspectives become part of all deliberate acts of teaching. Challenged academy to step up ensure meaningful cultural responsiveness. Encouraged insistence of high standards, tap into students culture, consider nuances of dominant discourse, take at risk students under their wings, perceive teaching as a calling, provide care and guidance and transform classrooms from boring to brisk. Covered ways to engage students including withitness and mana. Therefore need to integrate culturally inclusiveness, avail socioculturally grounded resources, attitudinal shifts, good teaching, wise leadership and informed and confident communities of learning. 

After morning tea, we have Dr. Elana Curtis present on "Maori and Pacific success: how tertiary institutions can make a difference ". Shared experiences, personal and professional, on strategies to assist. Tertiary institution strategies can help. Exampled Auckland University 40 years of investment in increasing numbers and improving outcomes for Maori and Pacifica. Need to reimagine potential and invest in recruitment (starting early), re focus selection process. If applicants follow advise and meet criteria they stand higher chance of completion. In programmes, important not to spoon feed, assist independent learning, support learning community. Need to reorient academic support. Also review and critique own role as educator.

On a similar theme, Margaret Henley shares her work on "first in family (FiF) and the recognition of non-traditional cultural capital in first year tertiary learners: a NZ / UK comparison". Shared literature on the topic - UK, USA, NZ and Australian. Tended to have a deficit approach and as a problem to solve. Recommended work by Yosso, 2005 as an approach. Find out aspirations, work out familial resources, linguistic skills, social capital, navigational abilities through institute and experiences with resistance to the norm. Need to be aware of the invisible pedagogy accessible more to middle class families. Aims of FiF programme to help manage transition, maximise learning, enhance engagement, reduce attrition rate and pool academic and professional staff resources. Provided details of intervention - targeted learning sessions - to identify students early, build relationships and provide assistance where required. Online version ask so available. Students identified through completion of 5 mark trigger assessment as a diagnostic and 'product' to frame the targeted learning sessions. 

After lunch, Ksenija Napan leads a workshop to work through the "many faces of academic life: the adventures of Pinocchio and his friends while navigating through a neoliberal university". Questions posed to teams, each taking on a character from Pinocchio, to work through. The goal is for each team to co create an alternative story, relevant to academy member. Modelled the co participate inquiry approach.

Symposium closed with academy hour to provide feedback on the experiences.  Eric Pawson facilitated session on Feedback collated from members on action points started, progressed or completed through the learning from last years' symposiums reported. 

Overall, a growing maturity of the academy came through. We are larger in number, still diverse but finding common ground in our practitioner perspectives on excellence and quality tertiary learning and teaching. 

Feedback session closes a busy but interesting symposium. 

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