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“We want personalized learning to guide our path when it comes to the experiences we create for haumāna,” said Kumu Ulu Shraishi, who helped develop the idea behind Hālau ʻŌiwi with Kumu Kui Gapero. “Rather than learning happening in silos, all those content areas are being infused into an environment where keiki are engaging in learning that they have a voice in.”

Hālau ʻŌiwi: A personalized & experiential approach to kula

Aug. 11, 2022

On an afternoon before the start of the school year, the parents of sixth-grade haumāna gathered in Keanolani Learning Center to hear Kumu Kui Gapero describe a new personalized approach to learning that their keiki will be immersed in.

It’s called Hālau ʻŌiwi, a pilot learning model established with the manaʻo that traditional Hawaiian ways of learning — ma ka hana ka ʻike, or through doing one learns — is still relevant to 21st century haumāna.

“Before Westerners came to Hawaiʻi, did the idea of kula exist?” Gapero asked the parents. “Learning happened, but it wasn’t in the form of kula. So what did school look like before kula? We learned together as a community, a hālau. The lau — or the multitude — putting their hā — their energy — together so everyone succeeds.”

Hālau ‘Ōiwi will involve content area teachers working as a hui to make their specific subjects come alive through the same experiential, hands-on projects. Math doesn’t just need to happen in a math class, Gapero said. The mastery of math concepts can be accomplished through Hawaiian Culture-Based Learning opportunities — whether that be cultivating kalo on a loʻi or researching native species of plants at Puʻu Kukui Watershed. These projects can incorporate reading skills, history, writing, Christian Ed, technology and more, he said.

“We want personalized learning to guide our path when it comes to the experiences we create for haumāna,” said Kumu Ulu Shraishi, who helped develop the idea behind Hālau ʻŌiwi with Gapero. “Rather than learning happening in silos, all those content areas are being infused into an environment where keiki are engaging in learning that they have a voice in.”

Shiraishi stressed that the projects will be based on the interests and needs of each individual haumana, giving them “voice and choice” in their learning. Social and emotional components are also emphasized, bringing in the counseling expertise of Kumu Kekaula Campbell, the dean of students for sixth grade.

So what would a day look like for Hālau ‘Ōiwi? It would start with cultural protocols, ʻAha Kakahiaka. Each haumana would have an opportunity to lead, helping them build their confidence and self identity. After morning protocol, the hālau will use the advisory block to introduce topics and themes through mele and moʻolelo, setting a foundation for student reflection. The morning would continue with subject matter skills and concepts to prepare haumāna for relevant learning experiences in the afternoon. 

“In this environment, you’d have eight kumu looking in and collaborating on how to help these students succeed,” Gapero said. “Our hope is to give haumāna experiences that allow them to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors and to discover their place in society as kanaka ʻōiwi."



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hawaiian culture based education, hcbe, e ola, e ola learner outcomes, ʻōiwi leaders, maui campus

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