Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Sixth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Critical Thinking and Culturally-Sustaining Teaching: Developing the Historical Literacy of Māori and Pasifika Undergraduates in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Nancy November, Sean Sturm, 'Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki

Last modified: 05-05-2020


In this paper, we explore critical thinking in the context of developing culturally-sustaining historical literacy in Māori and Pasifika students at a large, multicultural university in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Critical thinking and culturally-sustaining historical literacy might seem like an odd couple insofar as critical thinking tends to be associated with liberal Western (academic) culture. Students can resist developing their critical thinking, not least because culturally-sustaining ‘critical being’ is a threshold concept, requiring a flexible, yet clearly structured pedagogical approach. But the development of critical being is vital to culturally-sustaining teaching because of the role the associated skills and dispositions play in supporting cultural autonomy and voice. We talked with nineteen teachers of a range of ethnicities from across the historical disciplines at the University of Auckland to document the pedagogical strategies they used to develop the critical thinking skills of their Māori and Pasifika students in a culturally-sustaining way: fostering peer dialogue that draws on personal experience; practising perspective-taking; drawing on popular culture for its contemporary and cultural relevance; drawing on one’s culture in choosing relevant topics; and creating learning spaces conducive to critical being.

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