Professional Learning

How an Ocean’s Journey Inspires One School

Including sustainability in education

July 3, 2012

Aloha! This past year, our new division, Envision Learning Partners, has been partnering with educators in Hawaii to bring education, Envision Style, to the youth of the islands. Along this journey, I became connected and inspired by the work of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and their leader, Nainoa Thompson. As the group's website explains:

The Polynesian Voyaging Society was founded in 1973 for scientific inquiry into our history and heritage: How did the Polynesians discover and settle small islands in ten million square miles of ocean, geographically the largest "nation" on earth? How did they navigate without instruments, guiding themselves across ocean distances of 2500 miles? In 1973-1975, we built a replica of an ancient double-hulled voyaging canoe to conduct an experimental voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in order answer these questions. The canoe was designed by founder Herb Kawainui Kane and named Hokule'a, Star of Gladness.

The Mission

Since 1973, the Hokule'a's has been on at least 13 voyages inspiring and educating people within Hawaii and across the Pacific. In April, I had the privilege of participating in the blessing of the Hokule'a and her crew by the Dalai Llama as they embark on a three-year worldwide voyage. Through the voyage, the PVS will spread the core message to malama (care for) Island Earth: Our natural environment, children and all humankind. (Watch this video to learn more about the voyage and the blessing.)

In addition to launching the voyage, PVS and Nainoa have teamed up with a noted education leader in Hawaii, Robert Witt, to simultaneously launch a school based on the guiding principles of PVS and the theme of navigation for native Hawaiian students, pre-K to 12. The school, the Malama Honua Learning Center, will simultaneously deliver an outstanding education to its students and serve as a Institute and demonstration site for educators from Hawaii and around the world on learn how to engage and empower youth by having them tackle the issues of sustainability within their local communities.

I encourage you to follow Hokule'a's Worldwide Voyage with your students and colleagues. The crew will keep you updated on the status of our oceans and environment and be participating in experiments and restorations around the world. I will post occasional updates on the launch and success of Malama Honua Learning Center on my blog here at Edutopia.

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