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Showing posts from April, 2015

My Hawaiian Re-Education

I left my last post sounding very negative, but there is a very positive side to this multiplicity that recently I've been appreciating. And sort of bashfully re-learning some things that I thought I already knew.

I started working in the Hawaiian charter schools on the Big Island in 2006-- as a rank outsider. I had never heard of protocols, or oli komo and kahea, and I had zero knowledge of Hawaiian language. The people who took the time to tell me what to do over the years spoke with authority-- "This is how we Hawaiians do things." In fact I more or less wrote my master's thesis with the idea that there is such a thing as Hawaiian pedagogy-- epitomized by the saying, "Nana ka maka, hoolohe ka pepeiao, paa ka waha." Watch with your eyes, listen with your ears, and shut your mouth. Lots of other olelo noeau or sayings support this idea-- huli ka lima i lalo a ola, huli ka lima i luna a make. Turn your hands to the earth (to work) and live, turn your hands …

Us vs. Us: TMT TNT and Cultural Policing

So my high school students are an endless source of thought-provoking moments. The other day they gave me a good little germ to seed my thoughts. They were complaining that a new teacher is giving them more homework than they've ever had before. One kid said, "That's just not Hawaiian!" Another kid agreed-- "yeah, well, she's not really Hawaiian-- she's too Oahu." They all nodded-- being from Honolulu, or doing things like some other Hawaiian immersion school, or assigning too much homework-- those things disqualify someone from REALLY being able to represent his or her culture. And if that's true, the kids had the right to ignore her because whatever else she was, she wasn't (their kind of) Hawaiian. Never mind a direct ancestral relationship to some of the most influential Hawaiian scholars, fluency in modern and archaic Hawaiian, written and spoken, and a working knowledge of Hawaiian crafts, cultural behaviors, and skills. Nope, sorry, v…