The kerfuffle continues about whether mātauranga Māori, or “Maori ways of knowing”, constitutes an independent form of science that should be taught in school science class as coequal to what we know as “real science”. As I’ve pointed out before, this coequality is simply ludicrous, for mātauranga Māori is a collection of religious beliefs, superstitions, false assertions (e.g. biological creationism), as well as a few practical truths (e.g., how to trap eels). In other words, it’s by no means equivalent to modern science, and the well-meaning but misguided notion of supporting Maori students (as well as confusing all students) by teaching them “their own science” is a recipe for disaster and scientific backwardness. Even New Zealand’s Royal Society is supporting this disaster:
Richard Dawkins has pointed out the same thing:
Equally daft case for teaching Viking “ways of knowing” in Norwegian science classes, Druid “ways of knowing” in British science classes . . . Navajo, Kikuyu, Yanomamo “ways of knowing” etc. All different. Truths about the universe don’t depend on which country you are in.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) December 6, 2021
Now I think I can speak for Richard when I say that neither of us are trying to denigrate the Maori people themselves, who have a proud history (as well as a history of oppression) that is well integrated into modern “colonial” culture. What we are trying to do is simply defend science and ensure that students who are seeking to learn science are not at the same time swallowing a hefty dose of untruths, religion, and mythology. And so we fight on, knowing that the desire to placate the indigenous people is sufficiently strong among Kiwi academics and government officials that they’re willing to degrade science to support ethnicity. But what they’re doing is disadvantaging Maori youth by buttressing their “ways of knowing” as “science”. That will not help any of them who wish to pursue scientific careers.
Previously I had been unclear about whether mātauranga Māori would be taught as equivalent to modern science in high school alone, or also at university. The following advertisement for a teaching fellow came to my attention, and it clearly implies that yes, universities are going to pollute science with mythology, falsehoods, and superstition.
Click on the screenshot to read the whole thing. Note that this is at the University of Auckland—the premier university in the country.
It’s pretty clear from the list of goals below that Maori ways of knowing are going to be taught as biological science. Bolding below the title is mine:
Te Whiwhinga mahi | The opportunity
Te Kura Mātauranga Koiora | School of Biological Sciences (SBS) is seeking to appoint a permanent, full-time Professional Teaching Fellow (PTF) to support the School’s teaching practice and enhance curriculum development in terms of Māoritanga.
The Kaiwhakaako Mātauranga Koiora will work in partnership with other SBS academic staff to support teaching and learning practices that facilitate appropriate integration of indigenous knowledge, te reo, tikanga, mātauranga Māori, and kaupapa Māori into the curriculum. To achieve this, the successful candidate will work collaboratively with academic staff to understand the opportunities and challenges for incorporating Te Ao Māori into the biological curriculum and will identify potential pathways for curriculum redevelopment and redesign that will support both Māori and non- Māori staff and students, and the wider community in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This is also clear from the qualifications for the job (again my emphasis):
Our successful candidate will bring:
- Strong experience in teaching relevant to the tertiary sector, preferably in Biological Sciences
- A post-graduate qualification in biology or related field, although we will also consider applicants with a biology undergraduate qualification and a relevant postgraduate qualification such as in education.
- Well-developed understanding of principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi and their application in the work environment
- Understanding of tikanga Māori and confidence navigating Te Ao Māori
- Proficiency in te reo Māori is preferred
- Experience of curriculum design and/or pedagogies to integrate mātauranga, tikanga and te reo Māori into courses for diverse cohorts of students.
It’s pretty clear, as other academics in New Zealand have told me, that the incorporation of mātauranga Māori into the biology curriculum is a foregone conclusion. That’s because it’s seen as a form of “inclusion”—misguided though it may be—and a form of inclusion that trumps teaching students real biology and other science.
I would urge New Zealanders and academics to stand up against this development, for its ultimate result will be the world viewing New Zealand’s science as a joke. By all means ensure that Maori have equal rights, and even affirmative action as reparations for their mistreatment, but for Ceiling Cat’s sake do not let their religion and mythology be taught as truth. It’s as if every biology class in American high schools and colleges were forced to teach Biblical creationism alongside evolutionary biology.