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March 12, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Ngai Tauira: Education With Purpose

As tauira we hope that what we are being taught has purpose. What is the purpose of algebra? I know many of us have asked this question. It is not uncommon to look at what we are taught and think of it all as just knowledge; whether it is useful or not. What we need to realise is that knowledge is only part of education. Knowledge without wisdom can lead us into a life of nothing; we need to know how to correctly apply what we learn. Wisdom gives us the ability to see purpose in what we learn.

When the first Christian missionaries came to Aotearoa they taught Maori how to read and write. They did this by sharing with Maori their most sacred document the Bible—they even translated the Bible into Maori.

The Western world had plenty of knowledge, the missionaries felt it would be better to keep Maori from obtaining this knowledge, therefore they didn’t teach them English. Not because they wanted to hold them back, but to teach them how to live morally sound lives—to teach them principles that would allow them to prosper. They showed it was possible to teach Maori without taking away their language.

The missionaries had a purpose. They kept it simple and as a byproduct taught Maori how to read and write.

They went to a lot of effort to teach Maori. It takes a lot of commintment to learn a new language, they even had to create a written form of the language and to learn the culture that goes along with it. We can learn something from this today. How much effort do we put in to understand the people around us? How willing are we to share what is sacred to us?

I know of a couple of people who were studing Maori last year that were from other countries. They faced a problem when trying to learn; they were made to feel left out. I know these people had a desire to learn about our culture, yet because they were foreign they were not allowed in.

For us to grow as people we need to learn, but we also need to share. This gives purpose to our education. It’s not only about gaining—knowledge, when we share what we know it becomes wisdom.

As we share as a community each one of us becomes stronger and each of us learns how to live with one another. When we learn about the needs of others we can put the extra effort into building up the areas in which they lack. When we share ourselves we bring people in and we give them a place they can call home.


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