The phenomenal rise to literacy in Hawaiʻi : Hawaiian society in the early nineteenth century

by John Kalei Laimana

Institution: University of Hawaii – Manoa
Year: 2016
Keywords: literacy
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2072446
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/101531


M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011. Sadly, the role Hawaiians played in their own rapid ascension to literacy remains relatively unknown – surreptitiously omitted from our history books and tacitly ignored by our public educational institutions. Consequently, this literacy achievement also implies that Hawaiian society did not have an aversion to Western educational subjects, Western methodology or Western technology. The fact that Hawaiian society eagerly embraced literacy suggests that as a society they were, intelligent, unbiased, disciplined and cohesively understood that literacy was a valuable tool that could be used to their advantage and benefit. Therefore, how did Hawaiian government/society successfully incorporate a foreign technology into their society and distribute it to their citizens with unmatched speed and extraordinary efficiency? The answer to this question requires a broad, holistic, interdisciplinary approach to our research and analysis. I will attempt to analyze how Hawaiian society functioned at the ground level, structure of leadership, organization and function from a native perspective. The unique Hawaiian methodologies that engineered the literacy effort were missed by non-native historians most likely because these historians viewed Hawaiians, their history, government and society from a western lens that was focused with different value systems. I divided my research into two parts; in the first part, I will look at the actual literacy development by assembling those events and information to identify the key players, their roles and the chronological context. In the second part, I will analyze Hawaiian society just prior to the literacy phenomenon through key moʻolelo that were written by native Hawaiians and translated by myself, a native Hawaiian, so that a Hawaiian perspective can be presented.