Broadening Understandings of the Cultural Value of Aloha in a Teacher Educator Program
Michele M Ebersole
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Huihui Kanahele-Mossman
Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation
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Teacher Education, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Education and Aloha, Place-Based Education

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Ebersole, M., & Kanahele-Mossman, H. (2020). Broadening Understandings of the Cultural Value of Aloha in a Teacher Educator Program. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 3(2), 81-99.


This study examined how pre-service teachers’ in a mainstream teacher education program expanded their understandings of the Hawaiian cultural value of aloha to reflect the integrity of the translation of aloha as originating in Hawaiian ancestral text.  Data were collected from 10 elementary and 11 secondary pre-service teachers’ personal written reflections at the end of each of day of a three-day course. A post-course questionnaire was collected 10 months post-course completion, after pre-service teachers’ student teaching experience.  As a result of qualitatively analyzing their written reflections and post-course questionnaire three patterns emerged to reflect the shifts in their understanding of the word aloha:  1) Common Understandings of Aloha; 2) Methods for Activating Aloha; and 3) Sustainable Practices.  16 out of 21 or 76% of the pre-service teachers confirmed that they experienced a shift in their understanding of aloha.  The remaining five responded that their understandings of aloha did not “shift,” but rather used the following words to indicate that their understanding of aloha: “expanded,” “strengthened,” “influenced,” “renewed,” and “broadened.” In order for pre-service teachers to be comfortable with the language and meanings associated with a cultural value laden concept like aloha they personally connected with the meaning of the word, expanded understanding through academic learning, and reflected upon new understandings. While tensions and discomfort about using language and cultural concepts from “outside” one’s own ethnic and racial background may still exist, we are encouraged by the idea that pre-service teachers can commit to broadening and embracing understandings of aloha as a meaningful part of their daily classroom practices and lives.

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