Complex issues around te reo Maori in secondary education

Some very brief news articles and quotes highlighting important and complex issues about compulsory Maori language in the secondary school system.

Focus on building te reo

“Language is a continuum, it is not an all or nothing thing and people will start the journey at different points,” he said.

Te reo to be compulsory for teachers

“When you make those sort of things mandatory it raises people’s hackles and it’s far better to persuade them that it’s a good idea and to fund it, but to make it compulsory you will end up getting people there who resent being there because they’re made to do it.”

Opposition towards compulsory te reo

“Act has no problem with teachers voluntarily learning Te Reo if they wish. But treating it as a panacea that ought to be made compulsory at taxpayer expense is beyond mischievous,” he said.

Source: tvnz.co.nz

Personal thought:
Panacea: A definition of the word ‘panacea’ given in a social context can denote a remedy to a situation deemed as a disease, evil or difficult and can carry negative connotations.

Consider the following quote…

“Act has no problem with teachers voluntarily learning Te Reo if they wish. But treating it as a ‘panacea’ that ought to be made compulsory at taxpayer expense is beyond mischievous”.

An interpretation of the word ‘panacea’ in this quote can be viewed as both mischievous and inappropriate and seems to imply that ‘efforts in te reo Maori revitalisation’ (the disease, evil or difficulty) on a National scale can be remedied through ‘compulsory’ means (the panacea) in all secondary schools. And although the former is a ‘difficult’ and complex undertaking, it is far from being deemed a ‘disease’ or an ‘evil’.

It is somewhat amusing, that in the same article as the above quote is a call by the same person to improve ‘English’ language skills and yet a more appropriately selected word than ‘panacea’ could have been considered here. Viewed in this light, I am concerned about the negative connotations implied by this word and the state of mind and respect of leaders in positions of power.

I agree that finding ways to bring teachers’ skills up to a standard sufficient enough to teach te reo in the classroom can be an extremely complex undertaking and that some form of sensible, professional and well designed and implemented plan and transition needs to take place that can facilitate a ‘continuum’ for successful Maori language teaching and learning. What will that look like and how will that be carried out will be the subject of interest over the next year or two.

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