What a fantastic day we had with the kids at Kalāheo High School. Dean was invited to Practitioner Day for the 3 natural resource classes with students from grades 9-12. It was part of a month long unit on navigation. 90 students got to choose from 5 different kuleana on board a waʻa (canoe): fisherman, cook, doctor, canoe builder, and navigator. They spent the morning with their chosen practitioner and learned hands on skills that would have been necessary to voyage across the Pacific. Dean was the cook and was given the task of teaching the kids how to make poi and laulau.
Maybe the most important lesson of the day, “if you want to eat well, be the cook!” He encouraged the kids to learn the basics of cooking before heading off in their own canoe (the future). Also woven into the demonstration was a practical math lesson. Dean showed how much can be saved by preparing your own food. For the price of 3 plate lunches in Hawaii, one could make enough laulau to feed 60 people. Other students learned how to weave rope, throw net, make natural medicine, and read a star compass. It was a great outdoor, hand’s on learning experience for all the kids and they all seemed to really enjoy the day.
One student shared that it was one of the best days ever in his high school experience because he was in nature and learning the ways of his ancestors, a lesson that will last forever. He mentioned wanting to speak to the administration about having more of these opportunities. Not every class can visit the loʻi so it is very encouraging that there are teachers like Hayden Atkins out there who desire to expose their students to important Hawaiian values and provide opportunities to put those values to practice.