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Changing our behaviours as teachers in order to meet the needs of our culturally diverse students : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education (Teaching and Learning) at Massey University, New Zealand
This thesis is a qualitative, interpretative study, which examines the pedagogical processes that
were involved in the implementation of the culturally relevant school programme – Ka Pai Kai –
in order to derive a framework to guide teacher behaviour regarding future programme"
The ‘oppressive’ dominant culture of New Zealand schools is acknowledged as a limiting factor in
regard to success for those students who are from cultural minorities, especially Maori and
Pasifika students. In order to combat this oppression, programmes are required to understand,
be critically reflective, and act upon the needs of all students and their communities. I believe
that the students in our schools in 21st Century Aotearoa deserve educational environments that
are free of culturally biased oppression.
The research centres around a physical activity and nutrition programme – Ka Pai Kai – that was
used in one school to overtly increase both the cultural content and community participation.
The experience of this programme was used as a focus for this research. Rich sources of data in
the form of key informant interviews, individual and group staff interviews, and document
analysis were used to provide a base of information that was worked through an interpretative
analysis to identify recurring themes of culturally relevant pedagogy.
During this research, respondents found it was useful to separate pedagogy into two clearly
defined but related components: ‘Programme’ and ‘Implementation’. Previous evaluation
confirmed that Ka Pai Kai was a positive example of a culturally relevant programme, therefore
the focus of this research was on the implementation component of [critical] pedagogy.
This research had six key findings:
1. When considering a pedagogical approach, teachers found it useful to distinguish between
programme content and programme implementation
2. A set of elements was found that teachers believed/confirmed were required for successful
implementation"of"culturally responsive programmes;
3. These elements had an ‘order’ in the sense that they did not all operate at the same
level and there may have been a temporal sequence;
4. Each element can be explained in detail, yet they were not mutually exclusive;
5. In a small school, and in a pedagogical sense, the distinction between elements which relate
to programme content and those that relate to implementation was blurred; and,
6. Teachers believed that these elements are probably transferable to other curriculum areas.
The interpretative analysis identified four ‘First Order’ elements that powerfully impacted on the
implementation of the programme in a manner that was culturally responsive to the needs of a
diverse community. Seven further ‘Second Order’ elements were identified that either enhanced
one or all of the first order elements, or stood alone as more minor contributors to successful
The higher level analysis provided an insight into the role of pedagogy in the daily lives of
teachers and I present my conclusions based around the need to bridge the gap between
pedagogy and practice. One conclusion is the creation of a matrix to be used as a tool to alter
The matrix can be used in planning (and evaluating the implementation phase of culturally
relevant programmes. The matrix combines the First and Second Order elements to suggest
transferability of success between the Ka Pai Kai programme and other school programmes that
attempt to reach the same diverse audience.
This thesis serves as a springboard to focus on ways to bring about the change in teacher
behaviour that is required for all students to achieve equitable outcomes. A lingering concern is
the gap between knowledge/attitudes that teachers showed and their behaviour/practice. The
framework identified is one means of bringing about this change in practice; the shift needs to
turn to ensuring that the focus of all schools is soundly placed on addressing the needs of all
students they serve.