As early childhood educators, we seek to create authentic and meaningful experiences for the children we learn alongside. We must remember that at its core, “education, in its highest form, liberates human potential through transformational teaching and learning experiences” (Meyer, Maeshiro, & Sumida, 2018, p. 17). As a Native Hawaiian early childhood educator in Hawaiʻi, I feel compelled to nurture the children’s emerging sense of place and self to empower them with a strong sense of connection and identity. Although not all the children in my care are Native Hawaiian by blood, they are being raised within a place and a culture that requires each of us to be cognizant of that place and culture. As Meyer (2016) stated, “what will be vital in this century is Culture––a way of being unique to place and people” (p. x). Meyer further clarified that “as a point of history, let it be known that we [Hawaiians] never did privilege” [ideas of race, ethnicity, and blood] as “points of separation” (p. x). There have been efforts to colonize and erase our Hawaiian language and culture for generations (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, 2013; Kanaʻiaupuni, 2006). My hope as an educator is that each of us––children, educators, and families––will grow to embrace our kuleana, our responsibility and privilege, as people living in this unique and storied place.
Building relationships with our island home:Three stories from kindergarten in Hawaiʻi.
Occasional Paper Series,