Golden Bay High School principal Linda Tame, who is also one of the Foundation’s Champion educators, says the visit of the Narukami Taiko drummers was a highlight of the year for her students.
“The physical nature of drumming and the buzz of making a piece of music with others created an engaging context for learning not only about taiko, but about wider Japanese culture.”
She says in rural areas such as Golden Bay, exposing students to Asian cultures is that much more important, but also more challenging.
“Because so few people of Asian descent live in Golden Bay, our students have even fewer opportunities than most students to learn about the language and culture of Asian countries.
“Our goal is for students to leave Golden Bay High School ready to engage meaningfully and with enthusiasm with people from Asia, whether they be in New Zealand or beyond.”
Linda Tame: “Our goal is for students to leave Golden Bay High School ready to engage meaningfully and with enthusiasm with people from Asia..."
Deputy principal of Hamilton’s Endeavour School Kylee Edwards says the taiko workshop (run by Wai Taiko Drummers) and additional learning about Japanese culture fit in with the schools’ ethos of expanding students’ knowledge of the traditions, customs and values of different cultures.
“To learn about other cultures and develop an appreciation for the diversity of different people within our world is important. It helps students develop a stronger sense of belonging and can make those involved appreciate/learn more about their own culture.”
Schools tied the taiko sessions to further learning about Japan and the wider Asia region (photo: Endeavour School students doing an Asia themed card sort)
The Foundation's Schools Asia Engagement Project provides wrap around support for participating schools to implement a plan that develops students' Asia-related skills.
The programme is designed to draw on the wider networks and resources of the Foundation to implement a range of customised initiatives to “turn the dial” for students’ knowledge and confidence in relation to Asia,” says the Foundation’s director education Sean O’Connor.
“Our role is to make the process easier – to take some of the load off schools by providing them with contacts, ideas and resources.”
He notes that research has shown that exposing students to other cultures through the likes of art, music and sport can lead on to a lifetime of learning.
“This engagement is intended to spark interest and curiosity in Asia so that students are motivated to find out more.”
Sean: "“This engagement is intended to spark interest and curiosity in Asia so that students are motivated to find out more.”
The taiko workshops are the first in-class activities the Foundation's education programme has been able to offer since the onset of Covid, something Sean says couldn’t come soon enough.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve all learnt to make the most of online connections, but there’s nothing quite like face-to-face, in-class learning directly from practitioners to really get students engaged.”
Five schools are taking part in the initial pilot of the Schools Asia Engagement Project: Stanhope Road School in Auckland, Endeavour School in Hamilton, Clyde Quay School in Wellington, Golden Bay High School in Tasman, and Kaikoura High School in North Canterbury.