University of Cambridge > > Visiting Scholar Seminars > Doing discipline differently: Re-claiming restorative justice as an anti-colonising practice

Doing discipline differently: Re-claiming restorative justice as an anti-colonising practice

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English education and culture were embraced enthusiastically by Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, in the nineteenth century. Nearly two centuries later, Māori youth are doing significantly less well than other students in our education system. This is cause for concern and the New Zealand Government has implemented a range of responses, including Restorative Approaches, which originated partly in Maori meeting practices. Whilst reporting a broad range of successes, a recently concluded ESRC study raised a number of concerns about, among other things, wide variation in the purposes and quality of restorative practice in schools, and confusion about what is restored. In New Zealand, schools that embraced restorative practice across their whole school culture have better results than those who use the practices simply as an approach to wrong-doing. These findings together suggest that the practices are worth pursuing, but both more complex theory and focus on transformative practice are required. A social constructionist theoretical framework will be offered to explain how careful relationship practice can restore dignity and respect to persons in their communities. These practices need to be reclaimed as an approach to both growing and restoring the “mana”, not only of disaffected students, but of all students, schools, and teachers too. Education may be a developmental project, but it should not be a colonising one.

Wendy Drewery is Associate Professor and Associate Dean Academic in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato in Hamilton New Zealand. She has an MA in Philosophy from the University of Auckland, a Diploma in Education Studies and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Waikato. Her research interests are in analysis of conversation, anti-colonising and respectful speaking, and adult development and ageing. She has worked on developing restorative practices for schools since 1999, and has published widely in the area. Wendy teaches a postgraduate programme in Restorative Practices in Education, and contributes a paper on adult development and ageing to the Human Development subject major. Previously she taught in the University of Waikato Counselling Programme, where she developed her interest in productive conversations. She is co-author of a successful text on lifespan human development.

While in Cambridge as a Visiting Scholar she has been working with Dr Hilary Cremin to develop an international study that will re-claim the socially transformative potential of restorative justice practices. Wendy was a contributor to the ESRC funded Seminar Series on Restorative Approaches to Conflict in Schools, held by Dr Cremin and colleagues from Edinburgh and Nottingham. Dr Hilary Cremin is host to Professor Wendy Drewery from the beginning of September until the end of October.

This talk is part of the Visiting Scholar Seminars series.

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