Potentially Transformative: Aligning Māori Perspectives, Difficult Histories and Historical Thinking
The current New Zealand senior school history curriculum (for ages 16-18) emphasises the procedural concepts of historical thinking but does not mandate substantive content knowledge. Teachers have considerable autonomy in what they teach, and until recently, the teaching of difficult histories of colonisation has been minimalised. This poses a challenge, given the wider societal commitment to reconciling the relationship between indigenous Māori and non-indigenous New Zealanders. Developing an understanding of this traumatic process of colonisation—the root cause of the social and economic disparities between these groups—is essential so that young people are equipped with the knowledge and disposition to operate constructively in a bicultural society. A compulsory new history curriculum is to be implemented for primary schools and junior secondary students (ages 5-15), which will require students to develop an evidence-based understanding of the difficult features of this country’s history and include Māori perspectives on the past. This chapter considers the challenges of aligning current disciplinary-based historical thinking with Māori notions of the past. It explores what this might mean for the teaching and learning of history to become a transformative learning experience and argues that rather than seeing them as binaries, both approaches have more commonalities than differences.