Below is the article that will be published in Harko Brown's Book. Harko Brown is World Renound Maori sports practitioner and maker of artefacts in New Zealand.
Case Study: Greg Baney: American educator.
The following article was written from information gathered through interviews with Mr. Greg Baney and his students and colleagues from the Oaklyn and Priestley Elementary schools in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Mr. Baney is an educator who has a passion for assisting children to obtain a well rounded education. He is a graduate of Lock Haven University and presently works in the Shikillamy School District of Pensylvannia where he teaches over eight hundred primary children in two elementary schools. At just twenty seven years of age Baney has already been distinguished for his ‘shake-up-the- world’ attitude and highly tuned professional acumen – receiving the prestigious ‘2007 Annie Sullivan Award’ for his work with children. He says,
My passion for teaching is observing and experiencing the impact I can make in students’ lives, whether it is emotionally, socially, or physically. I also strive on being a leader and role model for those I come in contact with. I believe that students of all ability levels learn best when there is trust through safety and confidence through success. I have come to find that there are interconnections with all students of all learning abilities. We all learn differently, but there are humanistic commonalities that we all share. I base all of my teaching strategies and ideas on these beliefs.
Mr. Baney’s professional aptitude for offering his students experiences and opportunities, outside the ‘norm’, and within the indigenous sports realm has included ki-o-rahi play and research. When asked, “Why is it so important to teach your students a multi-cultural uni?t”, he replied:
“I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of my students and how the world is becoming more interconnected and how the world is globalizing. In other words, it explains the communication that you and I are currently sharing. Ten years ago, an opportunity like this one would not have been possible, rather a thought or dream. I tell my students when we start our multi-cultural unit that it is one of the most important units we do together as a class.
My students are living in a world that is quickly changing and they will most likely experience more opportunities like the one where we are sharing knowledges about Maori games. I explain to them that in order to be able to work or interact with people from other cultures you must have an understanding of their experiences. We can all share our different experiences and learn from each other. For example, in any major corporation, building relationships with your workers will enable you to become a more successful leader.
My vision for the future is a day when your class and my class, or that of any other country, can be interconnected so that we can work cooperatively through a multi-cultural unit. By doing this, we could use something, such as a live feed or web camera, to share our thoughts and ideas, along with demonstrations of our respective ki-o-rahi game playing”.
Baney is an acknowledged teaching professional and humanitarium with a keen reflectiveness - his choice of ki-o-rahi as a tool for teaching was based on his own professional assessment and development. His colleagues say he is a role model to themselves and their students, that he significantly utilises the Maori concept of tuakana / teina, or peer pairing, in his teaching and that he is a ‘get up and goer’. Ki-o-Rahi utilisation is an apt example of Baney’s resourcefulness - he sourced out the game, its mode of play and historical significance, before the U.S. Curriculum Directors introduced it into thirty one thousand primary schools in 2005, as part of their multi-cultural health initiative called ‘Passport to Play’.
Ki-o-Rahi, says Baney, has enabled his students to reflect on their contributions to learning and physical activity through dynamic traditional game playing – with the Maori movement philosophies also carrying unique intrinsic properties which are evident in every group interaction and which are talked about later.
His students enthusiastically embrace the indigenous Maori aspects incorporated into Baney’s multi-cultural unit. Some comments from them highlight their academic and personal reflections and their fun and enjoyment whilst participating.
Charlotte says, "Its so much fun, one of my favorite units!"
When questioned about the discussions surrounding ki-o-rahi and the lifestyles and values of Maori, Kurt reflects on his learning with, "You get see what you would do if you lived in another part of the world."
Melissa is appreciative about learning about what children do for leisure in other parts of the world,"Its awesome to see what other students are doing!" she enthused. Manuel appreciated the skill factors needed to play, "I like ki-o-rahi because you see how there are different ways to play games."
It is therefore not surprising that an educator of Baney’s outstanding influence and exceptional qualities is continually striving for self improvement and further personal achievements within physical education – he is presently completing a Masters degree, very fittingly, in Educational Leadership.
If educators in NZ are awaiting overseas validation of Maori games, such as ki-o-rahi, before they embark on including them in their own repertoire then Mr. Baney would appear to be a shining light for them to follow. Via the traditional game of ki-o-rahi he has embraced a sports concept, well outside his comfort zone, and through hard work and professional application made it his own for the benefit of his students. The results speak for themselves.