“... have life, and have it abundantly!”

Posted Thursday May 16, 2024

Kia ora e te Whānau,

When we hear Jesus say “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” in te Rongopai te Hone, the Gospel of John, I’m guessing that you immediately think about Year 11 PE and Health, Science and Food and Nutrition classes at St Peter’s College Gore, Hato Petera Māruawai – not! Stay with me though and I’ll help you see the connection.

On both occasions that I have been into the Sports Discovery class the tauira, students, have been seriously working up a sweat in the weights room. With nearly two thirds of all of Year 11 tauira taking this hugely popular course, kaiako Janelle Conlan is running two separate classes in order to ensure equitable access to resourcing for everyone.

Image by: Bridget Ryan
Image by: Bridget Ryan

Catering to rangatahi who are keen to be better athletes as well as having a better understanding of anatomy and physiology, the course is built around the key concept of Hāuora. This allows the rangatahi to learn how to be aware of the four dimensions of their wellbeing - taha wairua (spiritual), taha hinengaro (mental and emotional), taha tinana (physical) and taha whānau (social). The course allows ākonga to “focus on our individual winter sport – mine is football - developing the skills through all of the workouts that we have been doing which is helping us to improve”. “We’ve been looking at the anatomy of our muscles and how understanding this can help us develop our skills.” The mahi, work, of the Physical Education and Health kaiako at Hato Petera is underpinned by their adoption of the whakatauki Me te huruhuru ka rere te manu – Adorn the bird with feathers so that it can fly. When we’re out there on the sidelines watching our rangatahi give it their all, we’re watching these birds take flight.

Image by: Bridget Ryan
Image by: Bridget Ryan

“Learning a bunch of really valuable things in a relaxed, stress-free environment.” I don’t recall my Physics classes being like this, but the ākonga in E3, one of our newly refurbished labs assured me when I visited, that this is the case in the Science For Life class. When I visited earlier this term to speak with these engaged young people, ākonga were throwing around kupu, words, like “energy” “mass”, “joules” and “velocity” in conjunction with what they deemed “relevant and practical learning like how not to overload a trailer” and “when and when not to use winter and summer tyres”. One tane, young man, went on to explain pretty graphically, what the term “aquaplane” meant, which encouraged me to ensure that I would drive safely in the wet!  

Image by: Amy-Rae Rooijackers

              Safety information about towing from a pamphlet created by an ākonga

When I asked how they would be assessed on the learning they had done the rangatahi explained to me that they were preparing a pamphlet or a poster promoting Safe Driving to an audience of sixteen-year-olds. They were all very aware of the high literacy and numeracy aspects of their course – “all this reading and writing and then there’s the Maths! But it’s way more relevant than me figuring out an angle of a building roof! It could save lives!”

Image by: Bridget Ryan

                              Flavoured milk – a healthy option – 51g of sugar..?

I was so busy taking notes and listening attentively to how to keep safe on Southland roads that I forgot to take a photo and I had to go back the following week. By then, they’d moved on from Safe Driving to Health and Disease as a learning context and were looking at the sugar content in flavoured milk. Comparing the sugar content in different brands of flavoured milk allowed them to utilise their numeracy skills while learning that one particular brand contains 51grams of sugar – “five teaspoons of sugar in a bottle!”. What does information like that mean to our rangatahi? “It’s really relevant to learn about this stuff because the big companies are putting heaps of sugar into the food and it’s bad for us… and when they advertise they only promote the good stuff, but they’re making bank and that’s not good.” “Bank” means money for those not in the know like me! Science for Life – how to drive safely and learn about health, disease and ethics … learning physics, chemistry and biology with real life applications all sounds pretty good to me.

Image by: Bridget Ryan

“Because my League coach told me to. He said that it was really important that I learn about good nutrition and how to fuel my body properly.” That was why one tane in the Year 11 Food and Nutrition class was sitting in the Foods room, studiously taking notes and doing his research. When I spoke with other members of the class, they echoed this sentiment – it was important to them that they were learning the value of good nutrition, and they were pleased that they now knew that they had “been having too much of the wrong things.” As you can imagine, “getting to cook and eat food” is a draw card for many on the course!

Image by: Bridget Ryan

               Preparing the workstation to get on with cooking the kai – chicken stir-fry

More than half of the Year 11 cohort has chosen Food and Nutrition this year, which has meant that the same course will run in both semesters because we only have one Foods room with a limited number of cooking stations. Kaiako Lisa Perkins has developed a course which an ākonga have described as “so much fun this year instead of a course set by NCEA assessment – we get to cook lots and there’s lots of flexibility”. Describing the current two-week task the ākonga went on to say “It’s good because we can see how to feed our families on a limited budget. Through the ‘My Food Bag’ we get a budget of $20 and we create the meal plan that fits in the budget and then we take the ingredients home and prepare it for our families and then evaluate it.” Another ākonga let me know “I can see connections to my PE class because I’m learning about what’s good for my body to keep it running. Learning what the different food groups do for you is so important.”

“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” says Jesus in John 10:10. Across the three courses highlighted in this piece, kaiako and ākonga are teaching and learning about exactly this – having life, a good life, a healthy, safe and productive life; an abundant, ethical life lived with integrity in order to keep self and others in society well. I think if Hehu Karaiti, Jesus Christ, was to wander through these classes he’d be thinking “they get it and they’re spreading my word – ka pai!”

There are three courses left for me to share with you next week. Until then, kia pai tō koutou rā!

Bridget Ryan
Deputy Principal Teaching and Learning