Kia Aroha College believes that learning is grounded in our students’ cultures.  This understanding goes far wider and deeper than “one-off” cultural days or weeks, and involves changes in thinking about how we learn, what we learn, and how we structure our schools.

In the last two years we have built further on our early work in Culturally Responsive teaching and learning to describe our work in terms of Critical Culturally Sustaining, Pedagogy (learning and teaching). Critical, Culturally Sustaining, Pedagogy goes beyond thinking we just have to have better relationships. It raises fundamental questions about the purpose of schooling, and the responsibility of schools to sustain and, in indigenous communities, to also revitalise culture, instead of ignoring, assimilating, and eradicating it as they have done in the past – and still do currently. Critical, Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy  speaks to what Paris and Alim (2017) describe as “the fallacy of measuring ourselves and the young people in our communities solely against the White middle-class norms of knowing and being, that continue to dominate notions of educational achievement.

“It’s not culturally sustaining, if it’s not also critical.” (Milne 2018)

Duncan-Andrade and Morrell (2008) identify three goals of critical pedagogy as empowered identity development, academic achievement and action for social change.