Yesterday, I participated in a seminar at the University of Waikato as part of the annual Wcelfest on digital portfolios with the inimitable Helen Barrett, guru, grandmother and strong proponent of eportfolios.
She has been exploring portfolios and eportfolios for the last 30 years and is convincing in her arguments for their benefits for helping learners see how far they have come and where they need to go.
But she also talked about the power of digital story telling for finding people’s passions, for linking their past with their present and their futures.
As people select artefacts of their learning and their lives they build and realise their own identities. She showed us a digital story made by a young Native Indian boy from a Reservation in the US in which he talked about who he was, where he came from, what his heritage was. Sadly, he ended with the comment that his culture was dying, all that was left was the Reservation. A few of his race holding on to their heritage, maybe not too late to take their stories, their songs, their language and their traditions forward into the future.
It made me think about the “mihi” that Maori use to tell about their heritage and whakapapa.
Our theme for this term for our Juniors is Globalisation. As part of that, we are looking at identity, at language, at who we are and where we come from. My students this week have been presenting their “mihi” and so I told mine to model how to do it. I am not a Kiwi, I am not Maori. I am a pakeha an “off comed’un”. In my first few months in NZ I joined a Maori culture class to learn more about the land in which I had chosen to live. Our tutor told us about how important that sense of knowing where you have come from is for Maori. What your genealogy is, what elements of the land have shaped who you are and how you think and which ancestors have been influential for your thoughts and beliefs.
As part of that class we explored our whakapapa, and we wrote our own mihi. I had to think a lot about what my connections were with where I came from. Strangely, despite being born and brought up in England I have never really felt a strong connection with England. I feel more connected to the Celts; the Scots and the Irish and even the French! Although I feel very strongly that I am a Yorkshire lass!
Anyway, I am starting to ramble and 28 minutes is almost up! So here is my digital story, my mihi. (apologies for any grammatical or linguistic errors)