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Ma ka hana ka ʻike (to learn by doing) is among the principles at the heart of KS’ reimagined approach to education. The new approach is aimed at nurturing a strong Native Hawaiian identity in its learners. Above, Ho‘omāka‘ika‘i students get a hands-on lesson on cultivating kalo.

Cultural principles and education framework cultivate strong Hawaiian identity in KS learners

Jan. 9, 2017

Contributed by Elizabeth Ahana

Kamehameha Schools cultivates a strong Native Hawaiian identity in its learners by giving them confidence and desire to kūpaʻa (stand strong) in who they are as Native Hawaiians contributing and leading their local and global communities.

What do kūlia I ka nuʻu (strive for the highest), ma ka hana ka ʻike (learn by doing) and O Hawaiʻi kuʻu kulāiwi (Hawaiʻi is my native land) have in common?

Each of these principles and others are at the heart of KS’ reimagined approach to education at its three K-12 campuses, 30 preschools, and community education programs statewide.

One of the foundational goals of KS’ SP2020 plan is its commitment to Hawaiian identity – creating a world-class Hawaiian culture-based educational experience through its curriculum, faculty, staff, ʻāina and most importantly its haumāna.

“The Hawaiian cultural principles and culture-based education framework form a kahua (foundation) upon which our kumu and leaders can continue our work to define and establish world-class, Hawaiian culture-based education for our haumāna, families and school community,” said Dr. Holoua Stender, KS executive vice president for Education.

“We are thankful for the efforts of the many visionary kumu and leaders who have led us to this pivotal time in history.”

The following content statement addresses Action 6 of the Ten Actions for fiscal year 2015-16, which called for KS to “Adopt cultural principles:”

KS' Cultural Principles of Hawaiian Identity
Kamehameha’s Cultural Principles of Hawaiian Identity serve as a foundation for all that we do at KS, most notably system-wide integration of Hawaiian Culture-Based Education (HCBE).

I. ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi – Hawaiian Language
Kamehameha Schools understands and believes that the revitalization of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is critical to strengthening Hawaiian Identity and ensuring that the Native Hawaiian way of life will survive and thrive in perpetuity. In that light, Kamehameha Schools will cultivate, nurture, perpetuate, honor and engage in the regular use of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi- the native language of its founder and beneficiaries.

II. Hoʻōla Lāhui – Revitalizing the Hawaiian People
Kamehameha Schools believes that its mission can be most effectively realized by a workforce and a student body that are committed to the revitalization of the Hawaiian people. To help facilitate that commitment, Kamehameha Schools will provide opportunities to learn about and cultivate Hawaiian identity, history and culture, and the Hawaiian Experience (the totality of historical challenges and triumphs that over time continue to shape and advance the condition of the Hawaiian people).

III. Aloha ʻĀina – Love of Hawaiʻi
Kamehameha Schools believes that land is central to Hawaiian Identity and frames our shared histories, traditions, and relationships. Ancestral perspectives of land stewardship are universal, inspiring a sense of collective responsibility that begins with our island home and extends to the larger planet.

Therefore, Kamehameha Schools as a Hawaiian organization embraces traditional concepts to promote conservation, resource management, cultural restoration, and the continued nurturing of our ancestral connections with the land.

Kamehameha Schools is committed to improving Hawaiian capability and well-being in ways that empower Native Hawaiians and that ensure the vibrancy of Hawaiian society in perpetuity. Therefore, Kamehameha Schools will promote expressions of Hawaiian patriotism and opportunities to educate staff regarding Hawaiian land issues and efforts towards self-determination.

IV. Loina Kamehameha – Shared Customs and Practices
Kamehameha Schools believes that shared customs, values and behaviors strengthen our identity as a Native Hawaiian organization, and understands the importance of a workforce and student body made up of people who care for one another and nurture meaningful relationships. Central to that belief is the importance of ‘ohana and the understanding of heritage, genealogy, roles and relationships (spiritual, human and with the natural environment).

Therefore, Kamehameha Schools is committed to fostering environments that value relationships and unite us in our traditions, practices, and behaviors while respecting diversity of cultural expression.

KS' Hawaiian Culture-Based Education Framework
KS is an organization in which all leaders, staff, students and families are committed to educational excellence and high levels of achievement through distinguished teaching and rigorous learning which lead to world class educational outcomes, and the renewed vibrancy of Hawaiʻi’s indigenous people and their lifelong success in the 21st century.

Within 25 years, KS envisions a thriving lāhui in which learners achieve postsecondary educational success that enables good life and career choices, and positions them to lead and contribute to their communities, both locally and globally.

Ua lehulehu a manomano ka ʻikena a ka Hawaiʻi.

Established in the wisdom of our kūpuna, and embracing the uniqueness of each learner, Kamehameha Schools Hawaiian culture-based education serves to strengthen the capability and well-being of Native Hawaiian learners. With Hawaiian and Christian values as our foundation, students learn through and about Hawaiian culture to acquire a broad range of Hawaiian perspectives and world knowledge. KS prepares learners to lead successful and fulfilling lives, while they engage and compete in ways that contribute to our lāhui and enrich humankind.

We believe a vibrant Lāhui Hawaiʻi - Hawaiian people, steeped in ʻIke Hawaiʻi - ancestral wisdom, and rooted in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi - their mother tongue, will thrive in a living Nohona Hawaiʻi - Hawaiian culture.

How We Realize this Concept

Kamehameha promotes the practice and perpetuation of Hawaiian worldviews, culture and ʻōlelo through:

Kūlia i ka nuʻu: Distinguished teaching, learning and leadership practice that is culturally grounded; values and responds to the unique moʻolelo of Hawaiʻi; strengthens the aspirations of each learner; and values both professional learning opportunities and peer collaborations.

Ma ka hana ka ʻike: Well-designed learning environments that support effective Hawaiian culture-based education (e.g., practices and content); provide for the interaction of diverse people and ideas; and promote the effective development of the whole learner (physically, mentally, emotionally, culturally and spiritually).

Ka ʻike a ka makua he hei na ke keiki: Engagement of families in the teaching and learning process in ways that their understanding and appreciation of the values, beliefs and principles that undergird a Hawaiian culture-based education are reinforced at home and in the communities in which they reside.

‘O Hawaiʻi kuʻu kulāiwi: Devotion to our Native homeland, Hawaiʻi as expressed through acts of aloha ‘āina – Hawaiian patriotism, and engagement of learners of all ages in social, cultural and political experiences that foster love for and life-long allegiance to our Pae ‘Āina o Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Homeland) and Lāhui Hawaiʻi.

SP2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015-2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ Vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners.

Kamehameha educators and leaders across the state support Goal 3 of SP2020 which calls for KS to cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity in learners for the betterment of the lāhui and Action 5 of Kamehameha’s Ten Actions for fiscal year 2016-2017, which calls for KS to integrate cultural principles system-wide.

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