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Coloring in the White Spaces

Reclaiming Cultural Identity in Whitestream Schools


Ann Milne

This book examines the struggle against racial and cultural inequity in educational systems, presenting the case study of a New Zealand school and its community’s determination to resist alienating environments. If we look at an untouched child’s coloring book, for instance, we think of the pages as blank. But they’re not actually blank – each page is uniformly white, with lines established to dictate where color is allowed to go. Children by this are taught about the place of color and the importance of staying within pre-determined boundaries and expectations, reinforcing a system where the white background is considered the norm. To challenge such whitestreaming, this book offers the example of a community that defied and rejected this environment in favor of a culturally-located, bilingual learning model of education based on secure cultural identity, stable positive relationships, and aroha (authentic caring and love). This journey is juxtaposed against pervasive deficit-driven, whitestream explanations of inequity and purported «achievement gaps» of indigenous Māori and Pasifika students. This story chronicles the efforts of the Kia Aroha College community on its quest to step outside education’s «White spaces» to create a new space for learning and to reclaim educational sovereignty – where individuals have the absolute right to «be Māori,» to be who they are, in school.

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Studies in Criticality

General Editor Shirley R. Steinberg

Counterpoints publishes the most compelling and imaginative books being written in education today. Grounded on the theoretical advances in criticalism, feminism, and postmodernism in the last two decades of the twentieth century, Counterpoints engages the meaning of these innovations in various forms of educational expression. Committed to the proposition that theoretical literature should be accessible to a variety of audiences, the series insists that its authors avoid esoteric and jargonistic languages that transform educational scholarship into an elite discourse for the initiated. Scholarly work matters only to the degree it affects consciousness and practice at multiple sites. Counterpoints’ editorial policy is based on these principles and the ability of scholars to break new ground, to open new conversations, to go where educators have never gone before.

For additional information about this series or for the submission of manuscripts, please contact:

Shirley R. Steinberg c/o Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 29 Broadway, 18th floor New York, New York 10006

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