I read an article by Steve Wheeler* in which he referred to a Maori saying… “Ka mura, Ka muri,” which means ‘walking backwards into the future’.
We recently attended a family tangi up North where we farewelled Nuki Aldridge, one of the strongest voices for Ngapuhi. He channelled his energy into the affairs of the north and will be remembered for upholding “He Whakaputanga” – The Declaration of Independence. He was a man who consistently referenced the “old ways,” and tried his hardest to maintain traditions pre-European.
At the tangi many people spoke about Nuki. In honouring him, they also remembered their ancestors, calling upon their wisdom to guide them in the future path they now needed to follow without Nuki at the forefront. They were in essence “walking back into the future.”
Perhaps as Wheeler suggests, when we consider the future, we should possibly follow the Maori tradition and build our upon our future by referencing the past. In the case of Matahui School, we should consider what has gone before, what has been achieved and the course the school has taken in providing an environment within which students are nurtured. Compared to other long standing independent schools, we are young, but we have a rich history we can draw upon.
Wheeler could have been writing about Matahui as this school has always; aimed to educate our children to be resilient, responsive critical and proactive; expected them to solve problems the world has bestowed upon them, as well as new problems of their own making; expected them to approach challenges collaboratively because the changing future will demand this; encouraged them to be creative and learn the lessons of failure and success as they in turn “walk backwards into their future.”
On the 24th of August 2017, Allan Alach featured a thought provoking article in “Leading and Leaning,1. ” by Carol Black which she wrote in 2016. She makes the following point….
“In many rural land-based societies, learning is not coerced; children are expected to voluntarily observe, absorb, practice, and master the knowledge and skills they will need as adults –– and they do. In these societies –– which exist on every inhabited continent –– even very young children are free to choose their own actions, to play, to explore, to participate, to take on meaningful responsibility. “Learning” is not conceived as a special activity at all, but as a natural by-product of being alive in the world.” 2. And this got me thinking about the inception of “The Lost Village” at Matahui School.
We have a bush block which I affectionately refer to as Middle Earth. This is the area where students can go to construct huts. It is a space that encourages feats of engineering that result in creative architecture that rival what you find on Grand Designs. It is a space that the students at Matahui have claimed as their own and over the term, have transformed into the “Lost Village.” Venture over on any given day and you will hear and see the village folk collecting materials, designing and creating products and modifying huts.
The village itself is a hive of industry as it is made up of huts that double as “market stalls” trading in natural materials needed to enhance and develop all the dwellings that have cropped up throughout the bush block. The materials range from finely shredded bark strips that equate to rope or string, dead twigs, sticks, leaves and clay – all of which have defined and specific purposes.
The currency for trading is the Mahoe leaf which the village folk refer to as “skeleton leaves.” They are used to purchase the goods needed to create a variety of artifacts that can be sold in a market stall. There is a bank where a barter system operates. A skeleton leaf can be acquired if you have something “good” to trade like a solid, thick stick or a roll of exquisitely bound bark string.
I want to share with you aspects of a discussion I had with some of the villagers…..
“ Anyone can set up a market stall, but to be good at selling you need good stuff to sell.”
“ The clay mines are where you find two types of clay. The best is the white clay because it is special. It mixes with the other clay to make a good putty that you can use to make things to sell. Emma –Poppy is making a fox. Clare is making a white clay dolphin sceptre and Isabel is making a flower.”
The Lost Village is a world created by children. There is nothing fictitious about it – it is real, and a great study in economic development and growth. It is refreshing to know that our students “are free to choose their own actions, to play, to explore, to participate, to take on meaningful responsibility. “Learning” is not conceived as a special activity at all, but as a natural by-product of being alive in the world.”3.
“Leading and Learning” Allan Alach (http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/)
& 3.On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place in the Classroom Carol Black April 2016 “Leading and Learning” Allan Alach (http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/)
On Tuesday the 21 June Puriri went on a class trip to the Classic Flyers Museum and Tauranga airport. We went in the Catalina flying boat and saw a spit fire. We saw an Air New Zealand plane take off and a big yellow fire engine. It sprayed water out of a big hose and from the bottom too. We saw a skeleton of a glider plus a plane that looked like a shark. We had an awesome day. The class rode on an old fire engine for a tour of the airport. We also saw lots of planes that were being repaired.
By Denley, Lily and Keyarn
Every Friday we get together with our Buddies from Year 7 & 8 (Kauri). This term we have been doing experiments about flight and playing Rippa Rugby with them. We have a lot of fun with them.
By Matilda, Olive and Bella
Every year we do a cross country race. The year 1-3 children run at school and the year 4-8 children run at Wakamarama School. We practise on the farm and orchard next to the school. Only Lily and Gabe were in the Year 3 race as everyone else was sick.
In the Year 4 race Polly came second. It was a really hard race across paddocks, up hills and through the bush and gorse bushes.
We were very tired at the end.
By Isabel and Abygale
At lunchtimes we can go to the archaeological dig area. The dig site is where can dig up cool stuff. You need to get a kit with spades, sieves, trowels and brushes and then can pretend to be archaeologists and find treasure. We have found lots of interesting items.
By Mila and Asha
Go For It
Go for it is where we get to learn lots of fun sports. This term Sandy came to teach us soccer, volleyball and tennis skills. It is a lot of fun and we have learnt lots of new sports.
By Polly, Nikora and Gabe
Our inquiry for term 2 has been about flight. We did a lot of experiments about air pressure, lift, thrust, weight and drag. We made all sorts of flying ‘machines’ and had a paper plane completion. We had to make one paper plane that could fly a long distance and one that could stay in the air a long time.
Denley’s plane flew the furthest and Isabel’s stayed in the air the longest.
By Emma-Poppy and James
During our inquiry unit we some pastel and paint insect art. We think our artworks are awesome.
Term 2 has been fantastic, we have had lots of great opportunities to extend our learning. Here are a few of our highlights.
Breaking news! Today year 4 to 8 students will be competing in Small School’s Cross Country at Whakamarama School. For some a chance to prove their athletic ability but for me living nightmare!
We all did really well, our class’s best placed athlete was Jesse who came 12th. As for me I helped out one of my classmates who was injured and came 39th aka 2nd to last, but I know I did the right thing.
Our inquiry this term was
Examining evidence form indigenous cultures provides insight into how and why they have changed in response to their environment.
To start our investigations we went on several trips
Waikato Museum. Here were discussed their Maori artifacts, learnt about the creation story and about Matariki. We saw a 200 year old waka and a very technical bird snare.
Katikati Museum. We saw the Samuel Middlebrook exhibition, there were lots of interesting Maori artifacts to investigate; a Maori anchor, whale bone mere and some beautiful woven kete and pois.
Historic Otumoetai Pa site. Here were thought about the way Maori lived using their environment. We talked about the changes that happened when Europeans arrived.
We then investigated a Maori object that interest us.
By Serene, Isaac and Flynn
BREAKING NEWS!!!!! The ePro8 Challenge was on the 16th of June. 2 teams from our school went to take on 10 of the best teams from other schools. The ePro8 challenge is a problem solving, engineering challenge. Some of the challenges were hard like the balloon fly challenge, where you had to fly a balloon 2.4m high.
Our teams had great ideas, worked well together and were placed 3rd and 6th.
By Leo and Alexander.
At the start of term 2 the Year 5’s to 8’s went to St. Peters School to see their production Starlight Express, an Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical. It was not just any musical but a musical on roller skates!
The story is about a big train race between many engines including Greaseball, a steam engine, Rusty, a coal powered train and Electra, a modern electric train.
My favourite part was the final race between Rusty, Greaseball and Electra where they were fighting for first place. It came down to Greaseball and Rusty.
The costumes, makeup and music were extraordinary.
The amazing race was held at Mount Drury this year. It is a problem solving, running event. It was challenging but we made it to the end. The team was Isla, Serene, Bradley, Michael, Jesse and Louis. We learnt that it was important to listen to everyone’s ideas and we needed to stay together as a team.
Over the term we have studied a variety of Maori art forms and artists. Tracy Tawhaio inspired these pieces of art. We used chalk pastels on black paper.
We are constantly bombarded with neologisms and one that was coined as far back as 1990 was “Helicopter parents.”
A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter), is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead, overseeing their child’s life.1
Marcia Sirota provides an interesting insight on Helicopter parents in an article titled “Helicopter Parents Are Raising Unemployable Children.” 2 She maintains that such parents feel they are doing what is best for their off spring when in fact they are hurting their chances of success, particularly in terms of landing a job and keeping it. One example she gives is that Helicopter parents don’t want their children to get hurt. “They soften every blow and cushion every fall” and so the children never learn how to deal with failure, loss or disappointment, which Sirota suggests are inevitable aspects we all need to face in our lives.
Now for a Matahui School insight – there are no Helicopter parents here. In fact, just the opposite. The Chicago Tribune would refer to our parents as “Free Range Parents.”3 Another neologism that may well describe our community is “No rescue parents.”
However we choose to define the parents at this school, the fact is, that you subscribe, condone and advocate the philosophy of this school – one which enables children to “flex their risk muscles.” Far from being unemployable, Matahui munchkins have big futures as the resilience, skills and “can do” attitude that has long since defined New Zealanders, is alive and well here at Matahui School.
1. Wikipedia definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_parent 2. Marcia Sirota “Helicopter parents are raising unemployable children” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marcia-sirota/helicopter-parents-employment_b_16329884.html 3. “Kids given free range to explore their world” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-16/news/ct-x- 0116-free-range-kids-20130116_1_parents-children-monica
Watching the America’s Cup Challenger series has been gripping, largely because the conditions have pushed the boats, the crew and support teams to the limits of endurance. The level of resilience required by Emirates Team New Zealand to repair their boat after the disastrous start they had in Race 2 against the British was immense, but they overcame this set back and resumed their challenge once more. They learned from their mistakes.
“Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said their spectacular capsize was their own fault but insists the damage is repairable and the syndicate will bounce back.” 1
Now of course, they need to draw on an even greater level of hardiness as they face Oracle in what may be an epic duel, given we start from minus one!
One of our aims here at Matahui School is to give our students genuine opportunities to meet with triumph and defeat by providing them with educational experiences that guide them in making the most appropriate choices even in difficult circumstances. The point is to get them to understand that from making mistakes we can learn, and through acquiring resilience to cope, this will help shape their character. Yes, our students could well be part of Team New Zealand, possibly not at the tender age they are currently, but at some point in the future
At the moment our 17 month old grandson is totally enamoured with reading books, so usually we spend considerable time reading whatever he has chosen. What is fascinating to watch is how much his imagination is stimulated; how long he can concentrate and focus his attention on still images; how much information about the world he is absorbing, articulating responses initially through sounds and now a repository of “words.”
His older sister, aged 4, recently re-enacted her book “Tangled” (based on the movie about Rapunzel). Using her dolls and an assortment of carefully selected “props,” she replaced the scenes depicted in the pictures with her own interpretation. Adding her own dialogue she let her imagination transport her into the story, all stimulated by the images she referenced in her book.
So a reminder to everyone who is a parent, grandparent, caregiver. Give the children every opportunity to “read” books using still images. The pictures and illustrations in books don’t rely on an ability to decode language but are “effective in getting children close to people and situations; and able to take children into complex situations in a straightforward but valid way.”1
This week our Year 5 – 8 students and a number of parents were treated to a musical spectacular performed by students at St Peter’s, Cambridge. Starlight Express was brought to life by an ensemble that had obviously spent hours rehearsing. The entire cast and crew transported the audience into an imagined world where personified trains battled for supremacy in an international race. We were captivated.
Dramatic performances breathe life into narratives and provide an audience with the opportunity to suspend disbelief. Theatre is centered on thinking and imagining, two processes that are also evident when we read.
If it is wet this weekend get out the picture books and some props for you and the children, and let the power of still images and drama stimulate your imagination.
As well as provide students with a restful and often much needed break from school, the holidays can present families with quality time to share experiences. Though sometimes the plans made don’t always come to fruition.
Often times we set ourselves things to do – tasks or undertakings to accomplish, but circumstances are such that we don’t necessarily get to complete anywhere near what we wanted to achieve. The thing is, we shouldn’t angst over this or feel bad. In fact, I would suggest that at times we need to “abbreviate” our to-do-lists and just focus on the essentials or else, as you endeavour to neatly organise your life by creating lists, the stress can rise.
In an article by Cari Romm titled “Why You Should Try Decluttering Your To- Do-List,” Romm shares a strategy suggested by Stephanie Lee in terms of dealing effectively with to-do- lists and that is, to explicitly focus on each days tasks with the following statement in mind….. “If this was the only thing you did today you’d be satisfied.” 1 Do that thing – everything else can wait.
When my family are around, they sometimes point out to me that my to-do-list is excessive, so spending time with our grandchildren over the holidays the idea of de-cluttering my to-do list took on new meaning.
We played games (pirates is still a favourite); drew; picked flowers; went to the beach; collected “stuff;” built a Tinkerbell house; tidied the garage together; made a range of “Frozen” playdough objects……… Yes, spending time with the grand children was the only thing we did each day. And we were well satisfied.