Examine the Strategy

About the Strategy

The Native Hawaiian approach to learning is based on the ʻōlelo noʻeau, or wise sayings, about the Hawaiian worldview and values, as well as lessons in behavior, protocol, relationships, land management, arts, and spirituality. The following sayings make up the Hawaiian approach to learning:

  1. Nānā ka maka. (The eye sees.)
    • For the learner: Observe the task to be done.
    • For the teacher: Model or demonstrate the task.
  2. Hoʻolohe ka pepeiao. (The ear listens.)
    • For the learner: Listen to the instructions and any other sounds that clarify the task (wind, rain, ocean, or materials being used).
    • For the teacher: Not all instruction is with words.
  3. Paʻa ka waha. (Secure/shut/fasten the mouth.)
    • For the learner: Be silent and process the two steps above.
    • For the teacher: This is the critical thinking stage.
  4. Hana ka lima. (Put the hands to work.)
    • For the learner: Learn by doing. Mimic the teacher's work.
    • For the teacher: Observe and check the student's work.
  5. Nīnau. (Question.)
    • For the learner: Questions may be asked only after the previous steps have been done at least one more time; twice is ideal.
    • For the teacher: Send the learner back tthe previous steps again to self-correct/learn by doing.


Read the following articles to learn more about learning issues and teaching strategies that build on Hawaiian values and traditions.

Ka Huakaʻi Native Hawaiian Educational Assessment (PDF)
This excerpt from the 2005 Native Hawaiian Educational Assessment summarizes the social and educational issues of Native Hawaiians.

Determining Hawaiian Values (PDF)
This article identifies and describes six key Hawaiian values that inform the Native Hawaiian culture and worldview.

Teaching from a Culturally Relevant Perspective (PDF)
This article defines culturally responsive pedagogy, and examines ways to use students' culture to enhance classroom learning.

Hawaiian Teaching Strategies(PDF)
This article lists a variety of teaching strategies that incorporate Native Hawaiian values and approaches to learning. It also provides sample activities and the idea behind each one.