Theories that matter: stories of independence from the classroom in Oceania


Reading the postings in the MOOC Week 4 discussion forum makes me think about my students and their learning stories. I am sharing their stories here:

Story 1 by Anshul Kartik (Fiji)

Many people believe that Pacific Island cultures and traditions do not allow individuals to think independently. However I do not believe so as I, being a Pacific Islander, like many others I can think independently. For instance, my Granny tells us not to watch the moon at night when there is an eclipse or cut fingernails at night and even does not allow us girls to stay out at night with our hair loosely hanging. I follow all those norms as it is part of my Indian culture and because I do not want to hurt my Granny’s feelings but that does not make me a dependent thinker. I know these are superstitious belifs and does not affect us in any way.

Story 2 by ‘Elenoa Kauvaka (Tonga)

I began to wonder why we continue to do certain things in certain ways if they are not necessarily the best for everyone. My culture values respect, considerate of others, being humble and dedicated. I could clearly see these as great guidance for independent thinking. New, well-thought out ideas will likely to impact people’s lives if they are channeled well and having the foundations of the Tongan culture in place, independent thinkers will make a difference in people’s lives.

After revising these ideas in my head, and looking at the practical approaches suggested in this course, I now realised that I do not have to forsake my culture to adopt independent thinking. Rather, I, as a teacher have to incorporate approaches such as group work and student-centered activities. I, as a teacher should create environments conducive to learning but still culturally appropriate. I, as a teacher should encourage independent thinking by asking high level questions while maintaining the appropriate behaviour of the students. I, as a teacher should promote humility without humiliating the students, promote the advantages of having the ability to express their opinions by guiding them to know how to channel ideas and thoughts in the right way. This is how I reconcile my love for Pacific Island cultures and traditions with my desire to promote independent thinking.

I disagree with the argument that we are not independent thinkers. I believe it is there except that some people are introverted while the others are extroverted. Some have parents that are more ‘liberal’ than the others. In our hierarchial societies, people grow up in different social levels. So, if I were born an American I would have thought of Pacific Islanders as they are stereotypically labelled ‘do what you are told’ type of people.

Story 3 by Rafida Rafiq (Fiji)

I’ve given a lot of thoughts about my life. I tried to search for that one moment when I had been independent, independent in my thinking. This has made me realised that I have been a dependent thinker. Dependent in every single way on my environment to provide for me. The irony of the situation, however, is that I had enjoyed it. I am now asking myself whether I am going to continue my life like a leech was, living off others’ thoughts and views.

My parents would always tell me: “Listen to the teacher, she knows more…if you disobey, you’ll be sorry”. My teacher always had a solution to a problem. She ALWAYS made sense, so there was never any need to ask or clarify. The lecture focussed on thinking “outside the box”. Does this mean that my parents and teachers failed to help me “think outside the box”. Why am I not able to question anything? Why wasn’t I able to make sense of the world based on my own observations and experiences? Asking myself these questions I struck upon the answer when I recalled something else from the lecture: “We teachers do too much for our students”. Was this how I had become dependent?

I never had the courage to participate in class for the fear of being wrong/punished or to avoid humiliation. Being spoonfed was always better. I never tried to look at things from another perspective. I never had time to think. I always gave an excuse of lack of resources/materials to disagree . I still had that attitude in high school and even at university. At university I started relying on the internet or on others work to help me through. But now I realize how predictable I was and how much I’ve lost by accepting others’ views. I now realize that independent thinking is making judgements, for the good of everyone and me. Am I independent enough to apply my knowledge in my classroom?

Advertisements

About Vilimaka on cruiselyna
Science teacher educator. Online teaching and learning. Use of web-based technologies in education.

2 Responses to Theories that matter: stories of independence from the classroom in Oceania

  1. Jim Stauffer says:

    Thankyou so much for posting these stories. They begin to answer the question I asked two years ago in my first course on adult learning theory, “What does critical thinking look like in a consensus culture?” I asked from the perspective of the white outsider in a Canadian Aboriginal society.

    The story Anshul Kartik told about recognizing the superstitious nature of certain beliefs, but maintaining a respectful attitude toward those who hold them, even to observing the practice, is a good model. Another powerful statement made by Elenoa Kauvaka was “I now realised that I do not have to forsake my culture to adopt independent thinking.” This echoes a fear many marginalized cultures have of disappearing completely as a people if they change their thinking.

    I just discovered your blog from the “new media literacy” link in the PLENK discussion forum. Reading on through your other postings I found this one which addressed an issue with which I constantly grapple. Thankyou.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: