The bi-annual SAASIA (Society of Aoga Amata Aotearoa) conference was held in Samoa in September and October 2015 with the theme around children’s voices. SAASIA is a national organisation that provides guidance, support, and advice to aoga amata (Samoan Early Childhood Services) across Aotearoa.
Ruta McKenzie and Justine Mason, along with Veronica Kidd and Jan Fensom, the recipients of this year’s CORE Pasifika grant (KIDDZ Homebased Care Services) had a presentation accepted for this conference. Belinda Williamson from North Beach Childcare Centre also travelled to the SA’ASIA conference alongside her fellow teacher researchers from Mapusaga A’oga Amata.
Following is Ruta and Justine’s review of the conference.
Perspectives on seeing, looking, listening, and hearing
During our presentation we shared our perspectives on four words — Seeing, looking, listening and hearing. These might sound like simple words but if you are mindful of the significance of these words they become a very deep frame through which we can reflect on our interactions with children.
We believe that we need to do more than “look” at a person. We aim to provoke teachers into making significant shifts in their practice by providing a means to look deeper into the child/aiga, to not just look and listen to them, but to see and hear who they are, and how their language and culture forms and informs their identity.
In Alaska, when a child is born and her/his voice is first heard, the Athabaskan people say: “Who has come?”
In the Western world when a baby is born and her/his voice is first heard, people often say, “is it a boy or a girl? How heavy was she or he? Are they both all right? What time did the mother give birth? Did she have a caesarean or natural birth?”
In the Pasifika world when a baby is born and his/her voice is first heard the family says, “Let’s give thanks to God for his precious gift to the family, church and the village”. These messages convey the ways diverse communities hear/listen to children’s voices.