Findings from the largest, most comprehensive study of Hawaiian culture-based education (HCBE) completed in Hawaiʻi demonstrate that HCBE is positively associated with student socio-emotional outcomes, which in turn support educational and lifelong achievements.
Students in HCBE-rich classrooms have higher connections to community, a greater sense of belonging, deeper cultural affiliations, increased self-efficacy, and more pronounced college aspirations than their counterparts.
The study – which includes data from thousands of students, teachers and parents from Hawai‘i public schools, state charter schools and Kamehameha Schools K-12 campuses – was conducted by KS researchers Dr. Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni and Dr. Brandon Ledward along with Dr. Nolan Malone of Auriga WPS Consulting.
The research findings add new information supporting KSʻ commitment to HCBE, a key driver of its Strategic Plan 2020. They also encourage educators to cultivate culturally rich learning environments, and articulate what educational success looks like based on Hawaiian cultural principles.
“This research builds on the shoulders of so many who have worked diligently in the field of indigenous and culture-based education,” said Kana‘iaupuni. “At the heart of it is a deep desire to improve the lives of children and families.”
“Our kūpuna were brilliant. Our keiki thrive and prosper when they know this, and when they are able to see and learn about the world and all of its wonders through a Hawaiian worldview. It tells them that each and every one of them is brilliant too.”
The researchers published their findings in the centennial volume (April 2017) of the American Educational Research Journal (AERJ) in an article titled “Mohala i ka wai: Cultural Advantage as a Framework for Indigenous Culture-Based Education and Student Outcomes.”
AERJ is a premier publication in the field of educational research and reaches a vast number of scholars, policy experts and thought leaders.
“We chose to share our work with this journal because we believe the academic and indigenous communities have been thirsting for empirical evidence linking culture-based education to positive student outcomes,” Ledward said.
“We hope that the results and the idea of cultural advantage stimulate further discussion among researchers and leaders that will lead to greater awareness and support for culture-based education. At the very least, we hope to have widened the space for self-reflection and new thinking within the minds of our education leaders and policy makers.
“Beyond KS, our willingness to anchor in HCBE opens up new possibilities for partnership that can drive systems change. The formation of Kanaeokana (the Network of NH Schools) is fueled by a desire to strengthen HCBE and to develop relevant proof points that can influence the larger P-20 education system – where the majority of Native Hawaiians are served.”
KS Hawaiʻi chemistry teacher Joel Truesdell, who won a national award for his HCBE work this year, said the study was very thorough.
“I thought the authors nailed it,” he said. “The best part is that it is evidence-based, which should erase doubts as to the value of HCBE. Because we as KS teachers have to plan with the goal of post-secondary success in mind, our Hawaiian culture provides a strong foundation that allows the students to be much greater active learners than passive learners.”
Kana‘iaupuni said that the research confirms what many have known all along.
“In some ways, this is not new news,” she said. “The empirical data are another way to talk about what we already know in our naʻau, in the mana of our moʻolelo and our moʻokū‘auhau. Taken together, the implications for Kamehameha Schools, and educational leadership more broadly, is that culture-based education builds the kind of skillsets and mindsets that students need to thrive, achieve and lead at the highest levels in a global society.”
Ledward echoed Kana‘iaupuni’s sentiments.
“What we are seeing in fields ranging from conservation to biotechnology is an awareness of the value of native intelligence. As such, Hawaiian culture is a competitive advantage for learners precisely because it taps into a wellspring of native intelligence that has evolved in these islands for thousands of years.”
So far, the article has been well-received.
“We’re grateful that feedback on the article has been positive and that the efforts of so many practitioners and advocates of HCBE were recognized,” he said.
“It’s also wonderful to see Hawai‘i contribute to the global literature on culture-based education. Within KS, the article is informing our efforts to implement an HCBE framework and we hope it helps steer us closer to becoming a high-performing Native Hawaiian organization.”
April 06, 2017
KS Hawaiʻi chemistry teacher Joel Truesdell was recognized with the National Science Teacher Association Shell Science Teaching award.