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Lohea ka Moʻolelo o Moku ka Piko | The Impact of Moʻolelo in a Papa ʻEono PE & Health Curriculum at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi

Updated: Feb 5

By Kumu Matthew Arellano


Kumu Matt creatively integrates physical education and health with moʻolelo to motivate and engage haumāna.



Introduction

My upbringing launched elements and moʻolelo that continue to influence my life personally and professionally. The moʻolelo of my own moʻokūʻauhau helped to shape my practices and how I execute teaching and learning as an educator. From the lens of a learner, I always wonder how the moʻolelo, the moʻokūʻauhau of my haumāna influence the way they learn, and how they stay connected to their kūpuna, their ʻāina, and all knowledge that come from these spaces. In my research and practices as an educator of ʻŌiwi learners at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi (KSH), this is the question I aim to answer. 



A Research Question Centered in ʻŌiwi Pedagogical Practices

My research is anchored in the values and beliefs of ʻŌiwi teaching and learning at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi. I have found connections in my work through its alignment with ʻŌiwi Edge Learning and Teaching Expectations. Specifically, in the Moʻolelo pillar, “learners use moʻolelo as a cache for genealogy, history, journeys, and values to stimulate growth in perspective and Identity.” (M4). My curiosities are centered on the themes of moʻolelo in the learning space and how to provide haumāna opportunities to discover the knowledge of our past and create new knowledge for our future. These reflections led me to explore,


“Does the presence of moʻolelo have an impact on haumāna’s development of their own olakino, their health, and wellness?”

I wanted to provide our classes and our workouts together with some type of foundation, grounded in the ʻŌiwi roots we all share. I incorporated moʻolelo in my curriculum as this grounding piece. Moʻolelo are everywhere, and they are diverse. They present themselves in a variety of ways, just like my haumāna. I thought this tool would allow haumāna to find their own connections, their own inquiries, and their own foundation in our class. Each quarter, the Papa ʻEono Physical Education (PE) and Health curriculum learning experiences were grounded in one, or multiple moʻolelo, and still have one central foundation. Figure 1 explains my decision behind choosing each moʻolelo.



Research Methods and Analysis

Throughout the year, I kept a record of haumāna one-mile run times (Table 1). This was done to show haumāna progress, or lack of progress as the school year went on. During quarter 3, haumāna improved their run times. The average time of haumāna’s run improved by three minutes and six seconds for kāne, and one minute and 37 seconds for wahine. I introduced the moʻolelo of Mākoa and the Mullet in this quarter, suggesting that the presence of moʻolelo in our curriculum positively influenced haumāna’s health and wellness via the improvement of running times.



Toward the end of quarter 4, haumāna were asked to complete a Google form to understand their thoughts about moʻolelo as a part of our course learning. Seventy-four percent preferred moʻolelo-based workouts while 26% did not. When analyzing haumāna responses (Table 2), there is a clear trend on both sides of the question. For haumāna who answered in favor of moʻolelo-based workouts, all responses were centered around the idea of there being more to the workouts than just movement, there were great takeaways for haumāna. For haumāna who answered not in favor of moʻolelo-based workouts, all responses were centered around the idea of these workouts being more challenging than workouts not grounded in moʻolelo. When haumāna perceive activities as harder, it tells me there is more potential for growth. It leads me to a sub-question, “Why are haumāna afraid of a challenge?” 




Intentionality and Next Steps


Through this study, it was clear that I found an answer to my essential research question, “Does the presence of moʻolelo have an impact on haumāna’s development of their own olakino, their health, and wellness?” The haumāna data showed that there was an impact on haumāna’s development of their own olakino. In my own reflection on all the collected data (Table 3), I still have a question of not IF there is an impact from the presence of moʻolelo, but WHAT TYPE of impact does the presence of moʻolelo have? 


This past year was my first full year incorporating moʻolelo into a PE and Health learning space for papa ʻeono aged haumāna. I wanted to see how moʻolelo impacted their learning in our class. The use of moʻolelo in a somewhat organic way showed great impacts on haumāna. How deep could these impacts be if I was that much more intentional with moʻolelo, more strategic with it? And what exactly are the types of impacts moʻolelo have on haumāna learning? 


At the onset of this study, I did not consider the opportunity for interdisciplinary work. It was not until after the fact that I was able to see opportunities for deeper connection and collaboration with my grade-level team.




Opportunities for Interdisciplinary Work


This past 2022-2023 school year, the papa ʻeono team of Kumu began a journey of interdisciplinary and team-teaching research and development. We were given the task of developing grade-level interdisciplinary units of study, and team-teaching models that were appropriate for our ʻŌiwi learners and Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi. After the completion of my research on moʻolelo for my own course and content area of PE and Health, it was brought to my attention that within my study, there might be opportunities for interdisciplinary study. I gathered my papa ʻeono team and other colleagues from various content areas and presented them with a lesson of moʻolelo-based workouts, focusing on the learning grounded in the moʻolelo of Pele and Poliʻahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice.


After building their own understanding of the learning, I asked my colleagues the question, “In this, what opportunities of collaboration do you see for your content area?” The data in Table 4 helps me to understand the depth of my work and study, and the greater impacts for which it has potential. At the onset of my study, I did not see the opportunity for interdisciplinary work. It was not until after the fact that I am able to see the opportunities for deeper connection and collaboration with my grade-level team.





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