Kinship & Gifting: An Indigenous Fijian Framework for Teaching and Learning

Year: 2019

Author: Takiveikata, Sereima

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Kinship (veiwekani) is a key element in the indigenous Fijian worldview.Veiwekaniis manifested in many ways. One of these ways is the idea of gifting (solisoli). The purpose of this paper is to highlight the traditional notions of kinship and gifting used as a framework for teaching and learning. This framework is being developed as part of the Theoretical Framework for my PhD project. A critical review of the literature was conducted to establish this theoretical framework. Veivosaki yaga,which is an extension of Talanoa method of data collection, was also conducted with a few indigenous Fijian elders to ascertain the practice of kinship and gifting in the indigenous context. The Indigenous Fijian paradigm perceives knowledge (kila ka) as a gift (solisoli), presumably given from the spiritual realm (bulu and lagi). This traditional knowledge is usually specialized knowledge such as boat building, fishing; mat weaving, carving, yam planting and building of Bure. Gifting signifies a special bond between the giver and the receiver of the gift. It indicates a kinship (veiwekani) of either consanguineal; affinal or social in nature. The indigenous informal learning space brings to life this kinship (veiwekani) and gifting (veisolisoli) when traditional knowledge is shared. There is mutual respect and trust established between the indigenous knowledge bearers (Qasenivuli) and the indigenous learners (gonevuli). This is the epitome of effective learning in the indigenous learning space. Teachers are considered the experts who have been gifted with knowledge (kila ka) to be shared with their learners. In the context of teaching and learning, the gift bearer (the teacher) and the gift receiver (the learner) need to establish this social kinship (veiwekani) for the process of learning to be maximized. In the absence of this kinship in the classroom, both the teacher and the learner will struggle to bring about the expected learning outcome. I am anticipating that these notions of kinship and gifting will help me discover why Indigenous Fijian students continue to underachieve in Mathematics classrooms.

Key words:kinship, gifting, indigenous learners, knowledge sharing, knowledge bearers.