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Relational and Responsive Inclusion

Contexts for Becoming and Belonging


Mere Berryman, Ann Nevin, Suzanne SooHoo and Therese Ford

Socially unjust circumstances continue to perpetuate inadequate classroom, school and system-level responses to longstanding social justice imperatives, shutting out power-sharing solutions to educational disparities and marginalizing populations of Indigenous and minoritized peoples. To address these educational disparities, this book proposes a relational and culturally responsive framework, from within a critical and indigenous paradigm that is designed to foster one’s sense of becoming and belonging in the world with all people, and thus promotes inclusion. Praxis such as this challenges traditional paradigms that marginalize or dehumanize those with whom we seek to work. Social justice in education must be concerned with recognizing, respecting and being inclusive of the diversity of all students. Social justice is about valuing and including all children for the potential they arrive with and for the families that stand beside them, rather than on what we might aspire to change and mold them into being.
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Chapter Ten: Connecting with Māori Whānau and Community


← 182 | 183 → CHAPTER TEN

Connecting with Māori Whānau and Community



As the daughter of a Māori mother and a Pākehā (a New Zealand citizen of Caucasian decent) father, my genealogy reflects the bicultural partnership represented in the Treaty of Waitangi—our nation’s constitutional agreement. I was conscious from a very early age however that the two cultures that formed my bicultural identity were not equally acknowledged, valued or celebrated. My schooling experiences in particular taught me that, amongst other benefits, being Pākehā equated to being akin to my teachers and the majority of my fellow students as opposed to being Māori, which meant being different from what was considered normal. In an effort to feel included, I made a deliberate yet very painful decision to forfeit my Māori identity and claim my Pākehā lineage every day that I attended school. Ironically, however, making this choice did not increase my sense of belonging. As an educator these experiences have influenced how I attempt to engage and develop relationships with Māori students, their whānau (immediate and extended family) and their communities. I seek ways to reframe teaching and leadership relationships and practices so that Māori students can bring ‘all’ of themselves—their prior knowledge and experience—into their classrooms as a foundation for new learning. I also consider the opportunities whānau and community members have...

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