Critical reflection It is easy on one level to make judgements about what happened in the past based on current beliefs and prevailing modern attitudes. In this scenario, the matter of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi and the inherently dubious manner in which it was ‘agreed’ and signed leads to a notion of duplicitous wrongdoing on the part of white (predominantly British) settlers and prospective settlers on the one hand and indigenous peoples on the other.
The consequences of these actions over the following one and a half centuries or so can easily be seen. But on the other hand, how far should inter-generational responsibility be taken, especially in view of the fact that the British side to the Treaty were not necessarily acting out of malice, as Network Waitangi (2008) explains?
In other words, the colonialist expressions of European superiority were generally held views at the time and the notions of ruling were considered essential if the nation was to be ‘civilized. ’ On the other hand, rights and freedoms can become mere semantics and platitudes if there is not real and fundamental change because we each are what our culture and our early experiences taught us to be in terms of society and community.
Therefore, regardless of laws and expressions of equality, and even regardless of which culture or society was here ‘first,’ the fact is that children being brought into one society and one culture in their homes and communities but being expected to be schooled and eventually to work in another is wrong and is disadvantageous and has nothing to do with multiculturalism and everything to do with mono-culturalism.
Culture, as often defined in most sociology textbooks, is the way of life of a society. It is the sum of the ideas, beliefs, behaviors, norms, traditions, and activities shared by a particular group of people (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997). According to Giddens (1989), any society cannot exist without a culture. This means that culture is an important element that makes a group of people be ...
It is in this way that the Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi should be seen, namely as representing something that made the society wrong for many people in the population for so long and it is, as we gain greater insights and understandings about cognitions within cultures and communities, a focal point and a basis for such understandings rather than as a historic wrong that must be corrected. In terms of education, it is relevant to note, as the Ministry of Education 1995) noted, that one important actuality of schooling is that it not only helps to ensure the survival (of a society) but also is a strong part of a process which produces and reproduces the “social relationships which make up society. ” Indeed, it may be argued that this statement, if anything, downplays the importance of education, and especially early education and it is thus easy to understand why a bicultural approach to early childhood learning is so important and can be seen to have no negative aspects for either culture.
As noted above, the early years of cognitive development will position us within a community and a culture that will remain with us for life. We become ingrained in who we are and it is extremely difficult to move away from this ‘mindset,’ and, alongside this, society is perceived cognitively within general and broad ‘norms’ and approaches. Bronack et al (2006, p. 221) confirm this and note that learning occurs at a number of levels, for example one that is societal and the other individual.
If the out of home experience includes that which we know and that with which we are familiar, there will be comfort and reassurance as well as the confidence to assimilate the important aspects of both cultures. On the other end of the scale, Payne (2005), from observations of disadvantaged children in the United States, points out that they are disadvantaged at school because the “hidden rules of the class in which he/she was raised” (Payne 2005) is alien to the ‘norms’ that apply in classrooms. Therefore, disadvantage based on culture is built within the educational system.
The celebrity culture in the modern society has taken a very central position in the lives of people. Celebrities’ lives have become the talk of the day amongst Entertainment magazines, TV shows and internet blogs. They are loaded with information about celebrities. Celebs have been held with esteem in the society as if they are gods. People are keen on following up on every move made by the ...
This is reflective of an assumption of a dominant culture which, whether deliberate or by default, assumes the dominance of one culture over another and is reflective of early learning practices that still exist in many nations. One aspect of Te Whariki which expresses differences with earlier and more traditional educational approaches is the notion that children and teachers on the one hand should “grow together” and on the other that this includes following the interests of the children and supporting these interests (Alvestad et al 2009).
The traditional practices, on the other hand, are those whereby the teacher effectively “arranges the environment” and then leaves the children “to find their own way within a passive child-oriented model” (Alvestad et al 2009).
World views, as noted above, change, and beliefs can widely differ from one generation, or from one era to another. One ‘world view’ which permeated and underpinned the rationale for the British Empire was that British civilisation was superior and that therefore there was a responsibility to expand it across the world.
If this meant or implied condescension or even deceit regarding indigenous peoples, it was still morally acceptable because, in the long run, they would benefit by the British presence. This justified the fundamental Anglicisation of countries such as New Zealand. But in cases such as New Zealand, the process of decolonisation did not involve a reversion to a dominant indigenous culture because that had been subverted by the settlement of a far greater majority of predominantly British people. Thus, decolonisation was not a culturally significant event.