AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Learning for Survival, Resilience, Well-being and Continuance: An Epistemology and Pedagogy for Environmental Education/Education for Sustainability informed by Māori Culture

by David John McKay

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Environmental education; education for sustainability; holistic framework; indigeneity; cultural values; learning as part of the environment; meaningful curriculum; learning for life; life-skills; action competence; conservation ethic; community resilience; community well-being; transitional process; paradigm shift; environmental
Record ID: 1306435
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4947


The literature suggests that philosophies, worldviews and approaches of indigenous cultures may be key to an urgent shift in paradigm towards holistic ethics, attitudes, values and behaviours essential for an ecologically sustainable future, if not humanity’s survival. This thesis presents an empirical study engaging a grounded theory methodology (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) that investigated how ‘environmental education’ (EE) or ‘education for sustainability’ (EfS) or its equivalent, is conceptualised, understood and practiced within Māori culture. This research sought to identify ways in which understandings and approaches informed by Māori culture might help address epistemological and pedagogical gaps in mainstream EE and/or EfS. Sixteen questions were posed during face-to-face (kanohi ki te kanohi) interviews with 14 tāngata whenua (people of the land) participants, 7 male and 7 female, representative of hapu and iwi throughout Aotearoa-New Zealand. The findings of this research indicate that the ultimate goals of Western perspectives of EE/EfS underpin Māori cultural perspectives of learning, attitudes, values and behaviours. An intrinsic, holistic epistemology and pedagogy for EE/EfS informed by Māori culture has emerged in the context of Aotearoa-New Zealand, which addresses key epistemological and pedagogical gaps identified in mainstream Western EE/EfS literature. The epistemology for EE/EfS informed by Māori culture that has emerged from this research and is presented in this thesis is fundamentally different from mainstream Western models. Rather than EE/EfS ‘in’, ‘about’ and/or ‘for’ the environment, all living and learning informed by Māori culture is understood to occur ‘as’ or ‘as part of the environment’. Pedagogy arising from this epistemology informed by Māori culture includes a clear, engaging and relevant (Sauvé, 1999) purpose for holistic education and learning that is focused upon equipping individuals and communities with knowledge, values and skills for life: for survival, resilience, well-being, and continuance. The key objectives for learning are individual and community well-being and resilience. A flexible curriculum informed by Māori cultural values, as articulated by participants in this research, arises from a base or framework of core life-skills embodying EE/EfS. Synergies are identified with the National Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007a), Action Competence theory (Jensen & Schnack, 1997), and the Enviroschools Programme (Enviroschools, 2013), with potential. A conceptual model illustrating the epistemology and pedagogical framework is presented and explained. The nature, purpose and objectives of the emergent epistemology and pedagogy embody community resilience. Further it has been found that meaningful integration of principles and values informed by Māori culture in EE/EfS guidelines and policy (e.g. Eames and Chapman, 2008) is not workable so long as such guidelines and policy are founded upon mainstream Western perspectives and assumptions. This research…