Educational thinker: konai helu thaman
Tonga is the only island kingdom in the Pacific who very much like the other islands in Oceania, have been subject to foreign or external forces that have threatened to modify various aspects of its culture including its educational system. This was brought about by modernization and the arrival of foreigners and missionaries who set up schools and started formal schooling in Tonga. Before this, the Tongans followed an informal and non formal mode of teaching and learning based on observation and imitation (Thaman 2009:68). Presently, however, education officials in the Pacific see their cultural opinions, views and education system as inferior to that of the western educational officials and system. This essay will be focused on the Tongan educational thinker ‘Konai Helu Thaman’. Firstly, it will discuss the social context of Tonga and outline its cultural background. Then it will describe the main characteristics of Thaman’s educational ideas with particular attention to her views on learning and teaching. Finally, it will examine her educational ideas with reference to its relevance on the cultures of learners in my home country Fiji and its considerations of specific curriculum issues in Fiji.
Firstly, social context is defined as the social positions and roles that influences individuals and where a person’s social environment is that person’s culture (Ask.com, 2011). The social context and background o f Tonga is that education was provided within the household (api) and the wider kin community (Thaman, 2009). Older family members were responsible for the education or transmission of knowledge to the children mainly orally and through observation. For example, children were educated through songs, chants, proverbs, dances, myths and legends and by observing rituals such as the presentation of the first fruits to the divine leader (Tui Tonga) annually... [continues]
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