The Impact of Samoan Pre-service Teacher Education on Student Learning
Keywords:pre-service teacher education, Samoa, talanoa and nofo methodologies, local knowledge and wisdom
Education in Samoa is strongly influenced by Western theories of teaching and learning. Through the influence of missionaries in colonial times and the subsequent impact of colonial policies, education has become a central site for contestation of identity. The transition to an independent state led Samoa to seek help in restructuring its pre-service teacher education. Subsequently, the influence of New Zealand and Australia has dominated administrative and policy assistance. In postcolonial Samoa, the colonial influence still prevails, the result being that while many students enter teacher education few have critical perspectives on educational issues. A superficial understanding compounded with limited English language competencies makes it difficult to acquire new wisdom and theories. Openness to accepting changes in teaching styles that incorporate both Western and Indigenous perspectives could contribute to teacher development. This paper draws on talanoa and nofo methodologies to study 20 pre-service teachers. It highlights the dilemmas facing them when attempting to fit into the system and finding what they learn to be irrelevant to their teaching responsibilities. The study further draws on interviews with an executive from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to illustrate how the curriculum lacks relevance in the Samoan context, contributing to an inappropriate pre-service teacher training program. The paper concludes that Samoan local educational needs must be addressed to ensure the teacher education system is inclusive of local values and knowledge.
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