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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Learning Past the Box: What Learning Means for Indigenous Peoples

Michele Knight, Mana Cracknell, Brigid McBrien.

What Learning Means: Education with first nations or indigenous peoples.
Context: Aotearoa/New Zealand, Wellington, Bachelor of Education (Adult Education), Maori and Pakeha students in a bicultural setting.

Learning Paths.
The bachelor and masters programme has moved out of the lecture theaters and stuffy classrooms and into the community where real learning takes place. The learning settings are where a viable group gathers. It may be in a garage or shed, a boardroom, a Marae (traditional Maori meeting house), a lounge, a community house, to name a few options we have used. In our context it is Maori, the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand, who choose, prefer, demand learning settings of this nature. Maori also choose, wherever possible, their teacher and the sequence of papers they wish to study. Assessments are often negotiated to suit the context and learning styles of the student and the relevance for his/her community.

Our programme tries to live by as many adult learning principles as possible. For example, here are a few principles we live by: have a flexible programme; give as much choice of papers as possible; be creative with assessment; give the option of guided discovery learning or negotiated learning; contextualise each paper for every student. There are many adult learning principles and we will discuss only those we find useful for our students. Many of the principles also suit the learning needs of indigenous peoples.

Is it possible for a university to understand what learning means to an indigenous community and create real world learning that is relevant? We outline some of the processes, theories and ideas we have put into practice over the last six years. This paper explores politics, issues, heartaches, joys, anger and frustration, excitement, different learning paths of a university and indigenous peoples.


Michele Knight  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer
Adult Education Group College of Education Massey University
Massey University

Mana Cracknell  (New Zealand)

Adult Education Group
Massey University

Brigid McBrien  (New Zealand)

Adult Education Group
Massey University

  • First Nations
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Adult Education
  • Biculturalism
  • Aotearoa/New Zealand

(60 min Workshop, English)