The synonym for the Hawaiian word Malama
is "care." I learned of the word while teaching Hawaiian,
part-Hawaiian, Samoan, and Polynesian students. The Malama Learning Facility
is currently an embryonic idea for using hypertext to teach academic disciplines,
social skills and moral values holistically, with a constant awareness and
attention to the meaning of malama.
The following exercise, can be used with students or adults of all ages.
Write down on the blackboard, the headings for two columns of words: "Malama"
and "Not Malama," as above. In addition, put a few words from
the above list, to give a general idea of what the word "malama"
means, which helps jump start the discussion. Then, ask your students (or
yourself!) to brainstorm, by calling out words, either synonyms or other
terms that fit the sense or feeling of the word malama, and jot these words
on the blackboard under the heading "Malama." Essentially, I am
using brainstorming techniques to do value clarification. The second list,
adjacent to the first, having the heading "Not Malama," allows
the use of synonyms and antonyms to facilitate the brainstorming process.
The objective is for the class to think of as many words to put on the lists.
Use available time to clarify word meanings, since the objective is to establish
an appropriate level of trust and understanding within the classroom. Remember,
brainstorming techniques mean that no word can be rejected. Every word volunteered
by a student is valued, and written on the board without judgement. I'm
sure you will come up with words not on this list! The list can be extended
adinfinitum! Since the list is generated by the students, the teacher, if
unfamiliar, can learn the terminology of the local culture, for example,
see a Hawaiian
Next, I like to talk about what kind of atmosphere everyone would like to
establish together in the classroom. I have never experienced a class which
said they wanted what was in the "Not Malama" list, so I cross
it out, saying it is not what we want. I then say that with their trust
and cooperation, I will try to generate a comfortable as possible environment
for everyone present in the classroom. Establishing an appropriate level
of comfort always takes time, and learning by both parties.
Having established that an atmosphere imbued with "Malama" is
what everyone desires, I explore next how to create this atmosphere using
appropriate language. This also includes culturally appropriate body language,
and modes of establishing contact. What I have been asking my students to
do next, is discuss what kinds of encouraging words do they want to hear
from the teacher. So brainstorm another list entitled language we want to
hear by selecting some words from the following list, and ask the class
for additional words. Similarly, a list of words we don't want to hear can
also be established. Indeed, it may generate a livelier discussion, since
with abused children or adults, such words may be more familiar. Don't worry.
Having established this list, one can use the antonym-synonym methodogy
to go back and forth, adding words to either list.
Again, culture specific responses are elicited, and these can include foreign
words. Again, I cross out the right hand list having the words we don't
want to hear. The reason for putting up both lists side by side is for everyone
to learn to recognize the words we don't want to hear. The next step would
be for us to reprogram our minds so that these unwanted words don't come
out so automatically, and to practice saying the more encouraging words.
From here, there is much more that can be discussed regarding language issues.
Some future links I will be establishing here include:
"I" language versus "You" language
"Straight Talk" or congruence between words and affect