I 'Ohi' a Lehua 'Ohi' a Lehua Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill Rose A. Yamada The -Tree
I 'Ohi' a Lehua 'Ohi' a Lehua Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill Rose A. Yamada The -Tree
I 'Ohi' a Lehua 'Ohi' a Lehua Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill Rose A. Yamada The -Tree
I 'Ohi' a Lehua 'Ohi' a Lehua Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill Rose A. Yamada The -Tree

I 'Ohi' a Lehua 'Ohi' a Lehua Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill Rose A. Yamada The -Tree

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Text of I 'Ohi' a Lehua 'Ohi' a Lehua Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill Rose A. Yamada...

  • EDUCA TJONAL PERSPECTIVES I 37

    'Ohi' a Lehua

    Outstanding, Unequaled in Beauty, Wisdom & Skill

    Rose A. Yamada

    The Tree in the Forest - The 'ohi'a lehua is a favored indigenous tree of the forests of Hawai'i. Its wood was used for god images, spears, mallets, and building structures. Its leaves were an ingredient for a favorite Hawai- ian tonic. Its blossoms provided nectar for the 'i'iwi, the bird whose brilliant scarlet feathers were used to make capes for Hawaiian royalty. Its hardy characteristics, usefulness, and beauty made the 'ohi'a lehua a revered part of old Hawaiian life and legend. Like the 'ohi'a lehua, the gifted and talented youth of Hawai'i provide the resources for enriching the ecology of the land. He la'au ku ho'okahi, he lehua no Ka'ala (a lone tree, a lehua of Ka'afa•) .•. an expression of admiration for an outstanding person, unequaled in beauty, wisdom or skill.1

    The Nurturing of Saplings

    The 'ohi'a lehua growing in fertile grounds at alti- tudes of 1,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level may reach sizes large enough for canoe building. Its branches, with varying hues of green leaves, reach

    - • Ka'ala. At 4,025 fcet, the peak of Mount Ka'ala is the highest point on the Island of O'ahu.

    to the sky, profuse with deep, velvety blossoms that protect and feed the valued 'i'iwi. But, searching for the 'ohi'a lehua with an eye only for the stately tree with brilliant blossoms will leave many saplings undiscovered. From vestiges re- maining in areas scarred by devastation - fires, lava flows, drought - small growths of 'ohi'a lehua appear, challenging the adverse environment. The developing trunks of these saplings are often twisted, the branches gnarled, and leaves sparse. No brilliant blossoms attract the attention of the passerby.

    I mohala no ka lehua i ke ke'cke'ehi 'ia e ka ua (lehua blossoms unfold because the rains tread upon them) ... it is the rain that brings forth the lehua blossoms. So, gentle words bring forth much that is desired.2

    The nurturing of these saplings by the gentle rain reflects the philosophy of general education in the public schools. That is, the statewide educa- tional experiences and opportunities serve to nurture the full academic development of all stu- dents. Among the range of youngsters that attend our schools arc many academically able students. As with the 'ohi'a lehua, not all of these students come from educationally advantaged home envi- ronments, nor do they all overtly exhibit the

    I

  • 38 I EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVES

    Photo by courtesy or Barbara Oark -

    brilliant blossoms of their potential nature. The nurturing philosophy seeks the full academic development of each student, providing resources and encouragement so that the entire forest will benefit. As the gentle rain falls on every tree, so also must the basic nurturing touch each child. And, as the saplings grow and develop with this nurturing, the 'ohi'a lehua - both the stately bloomers and the struggling saplings - become more visible among the trees of the forest. This nurturing philosophy is manifested in the recent emphases in the instructional programs and the development of the key role of teachers as effec- tive nurturers.

    To prepare students for the tenuous demands of the 21st century, instructional programs in the public schools arc placing greater emphases on the process of inquiry and problemsolving, on the development of higher-level thinking skills, on the importance of effective communication and lan- guaging, and on the values of creativity and sensi- tivity. Programs such as computers in instruction, introduction to foreign languages, Hawaiian language immersion, integrating mathematics and science, philosophy for children and other think-

    ing programs, writing across the curriculum, and study skills have been installed in elementary schools.

    At the secondary level, Pacific affairs, com- puter science, expanded foreign languages, languaging across the curriculum, and thinking and study skills activities are emphasized. Experi- ences that bring the students in contact with the "real" world arc actively sought and provided. Among the programs that have been successful, largely with the support of community resources, are artists-in-the-schools, the Artmobile, science in Hawai'i, jazz preservation, environmental educa- tion, artists in Hawai'i, and the Hawaiian studies television series. The gentle rains broadly reach out to nurture and stimulate the many species of trees and varieties of 'ohi'a.

    Perhaps most important in the nurturing process is the teacher. Public schools are commit- ted to serving all students, without preference for or control over their background and home environments. From fertile grounds to desolate lava-covered fields, the young trees must be nur- tured to form strong, vibrant forests. The teachers provide the nurturing, the gentle rains. The teachers arc, themselves, 'ohi'a lchua of tall stature with brilliant flowers nestled among thick beds of leaves. Pua lehua ilea mahi'ai (a lehua blossom in cultivation) ... an expert in cultivating plants.3

    These fully developed 'ohi'a lehua retain moisture and contribute to the recycling of water in the ecosystem to form gentle rains. Our teachers, having been successful recipients of educational nurturing, arc committed to return this nurturing in the cycle of developing the youth of Hawai'i and are the key to insuring that even the most obscure 'ohi'a lehua sapling is not passed by. To recognize the importance of teachers, greater at- tention is being paid to staff development oppor- tunities that emphasize effective teaching skills and strategies which strengthen the educational nurturing of children. Perspectives on student- centcred strategies are reinforced. Curriculum planning and instructional skills in strategic teaching and learning serve as the basis of many inscrvice training activities. The development of languaging strategics to improve learning is the

  • primary focus across curriculum content areas. These and other developments arc being provided for the continuous growth of teachers, for even the tallest, most beautiful 'ohi'a lehua require the nurturing of the gentle rains.

    Enriching the Growth

    - As the saplings grow and develop, special recognition and opportunities are provided to enrich the growth of the 'ohi'a lehua. 'Ohu'ohu Halemano i ka lau lehua (bedecked is Halemano• with lehua leaves) ... an expression of admiration for a good-looking person.4 Within the public schools, challenges and experiences beyond the basic curriculum arc provided through special classes, projects, and courses. Ninety-seven teacher positions augment regular positions to provide these services to more than 11,200 students. Gifted/talented classes; special courses in art and music; in-depth speech, drama and jour- nalism courses; leadership training; specialized learning centers in science and technology, music, the humanities, foreign languages, communica- tion, and mathematics; and advanced placement courses are among the specialized opportunities provided by the schools.

    In addition to specialized, formal classroom work, related co-curricular activities arc provided to add relevance and realism to academic instruc- tion. These include the Mock Trial competitions in which high school students participate in a simulated court case with a real judge presiding, and legislative lobbying experiences where students visit with legislators and attend hearings during a formal session of the Hawai'i State Legislature. Volunteerism has been shown to present students with opportunities of significant value to personal and career development. Course credits are offered for students doing vol- unteer services, particularly in health-related fields.

    - • Halem.lno. The m.lgnificent youth or O':ihu who falls in love with Kama or Pul\o'I :ind wins her through his mastery of the art of chanting.

    EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVES I 39

    As students learn and develop, they need to become aware of the range of opportunities open to them in bettering themselves, the lives of others, and the communities and world in which they live. He kumu Jehua muimuia i ka manu (a lehua tree covered with birds) ... a lehua tree in bloom attracts birds as an attractive person draws the attention of others.5 Outstanding students arc recognized and receive the attention of major institutions and professions. Opportunities arc made available for students to meet and learn from experts in various fields and professions. The Enrichment in Science Program, sponsored by the State of Hawai'i Department of Education (DOE), enables secondary students to interact with scientists and other professionals in scicncc- related fields through weekend seminars. Similar out-of-school activities arc arranged in the Enrich- ment Program for Secondary Language Arts where students meet with dramatists, lawyers, communication experts and other professionals in the communication fields. More structured learning opportunities arc provided during the summer for selected students to study engineer- ing, oceanography, media and communication, theatre arts, computer science, and biochemistry at the University of Hawai'i and Chaminade Univer- sity of Honolulu under the DOE's Summer Program for the Enhancement of Basic Education (SPEBE). Both SPEBE centers arc residential and operate for approximately six weeks, giving outstanding high school sophomores and juniors experiences in college work and living. Support is being sought to create centers for the study of Pacific-As