Kilo Our Children
An inquiry-based approach usually begins with observation. Sometimes “seeing” is literally with the eyes, light entering through the cornea, the eye lens focusing light onto the retina, and the optic nerve transmitting information to the brain. But observation is noticing, acquiring information from a source, sometimes involving any of the five senses. Observation is a research method, collecting data points to arrive at an answer or an understanding. When we ask students to observe from as early as preschool, they move from literally seeing to connecting what theyʻre seeing to prior experiences, forming a hypothesis, or even coming up with a conclusion. And many times their observations generate more questions, which we think are more important than answers.
The faculty and I spent a good part of this past week’s Professional Learning day deepening our understanding of observation through the Hawaiian cultural practice of kilo. Generations of Hawaiians relied on kilo to sustain themselves by learning how to integrate body, mind, and spirit when they observed the ocean, the rain, the moon phases, the movement of the wind. Being able to read the relationship or pilina of these natural signs enabled them to fish, grow kalo, and anticipate environmental changes. We also learned about revitalization initiatives to teach us about the wisdom and science of these practices to sustain and protect fish ponds and kalo fields.
Following the thought-provoking presentation by Maui cultural practitioner Lihau Collier, the faculty tread into discussion about how we can integrate and deepen our studentsʻ observational skills.
- “I found that we can take small moments to step back and observe all the unique surroundings we have around us to enhance students’ learning experience.”
- “Wonder, observation, and purpose — they are interrelated.”
- “Thinking about the intentionality of kilo and how it might be a mindset for the work that we do in the classroom.”
- “Learning more about kilo holds such strong cultural significance, emphasizing a deep connection to the land, environment, and people. Kilo involves observation, intuition, and a profound understanding of nature aligning with Hawaiian values of stewardship and harmony with the surroundings.”
There was one more powerful epiphany about kilo — and that is learning how to kilo our students. Going beyond seeing to observing them with mindful intentionality and understanding the depths of their learning in the small moments. Developing a relationship or pilina with them and knowing them from our naʻau or spirit.
For the teacher, this is our deeper learning.
E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.