Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 14 - the one with the kai

Posted on: 2 December 2021 by Dr Tunde Varga-Atkins in General

Host and Guests in Online Meeting
(Host and Guests in Online Meeting)

In Episode 14, in addition to lightbulb moments, treasure island pedagogies/props and luxury items, our discussion featured Māori, Confucian and Arabic traditions and contexts, the focus on the whole person and creating the right environment for learning, including the importance of rituals that facilitate flexible and informal learning, such as through ‘kai’ (food) time.

Speakers: Jaye McIsaac, Dr Shazia Iqbal and Charlie Reis

Date: 23 November 2021

Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 14 podcast

(Treasure Island Pedagogies Episode 14 - Podcast Transcript)

Read or listen to find out our guests’ lightbulb moments, teaching props, pedagogies and luxury items that they would take to their Treasure Islands for precious contact time with students. 

Jaye McIsaac

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, New Zealand

  • Original discipline(s): education: early childhood education to adult and community education, to tertiary and higher education; international and New Zealand contexts. 
  • Current role: Educational Developer; I currently develop postgraduate programmes with colleagues at a wānanga: an indigenous tertiary learning institution designed to offer learning that is characterised by teaching and research that advances and disseminates knowledge based in Māori tradition and custom.   
  • Lightbulb moment: 'Taking time for connection', the getting to know each other. The significance of how spending time, asking questions, being curious, leads to learning opportunities. Putting the person above and beyond the intended learning itself. In my experience, the wānanga environment represents an extreme version of this, based on the concept of 'manaakitanga' (hospitality), listening to the person on who they are, how they are related to the land and others and why they are there to learn. It makes a huge difference as to how they engage in their learning.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: a cushion because in wananga learning (a collaborative learning philosophy), you sit wherever you like and can move around; the cushion represents that the space for learning needs to be flexible and informal and is led by the student (they decide on where they sit).
  • Luxury item: I would take my whole ABBA collection including most their recent one! Dancing helps me unwind.

Dr Shazia Iqbal

Vision College of Medicine Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


  • Original discipline(s): medicine, I am an obstetrician and gynecologist
  • Current role: Director Medical Education unit & Assistant Professor/ course director Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Lightbulb moment:  having 28 students turn up to classes and filling out attendance sheet whereas on my roll I only had 24 students signed up to the module! I found out that 4 past senior students kept turning up because they found my session engaging and enjoyable.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: A bucket full of balls of real patients’ stories collected during my clinical and teaching career: I throw a ball, students catch it and take a lead in asking questions so that we explore the story and medical decisions taken together. It helps me understand where their misconceptions lie and can address them. I also have a special interest in using educational technologies such as virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and creating an immersive environment for medical students, which can include me role-playing patients in distress!
  • Luxury item: my painting and calligraphy tools, colors with canvas and cannot survive without my piano – art can bring calmness and inspire thinking in other ways.  I strongly believe in the quote by Paracelsus "Medicine is not only a science; it is also an art. It does not consist of compounding pills and plasters; it deals with the very processes of life, which must be understood before they may be guided".

Charlie Reis

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), China

WeChat: @charlier222

  • Original discipline(s): originally a writing teacher, and then an EAP (English for Academic Purposes) teacher.
  • Current role: educational developer and Director of Educational Development Unit (XJTLU) and Founder of China-based Association for Partnership in Educational Development (CAPED)
  • Lightbulb moment: my personal lightbulb was when people started coming back to my classes even though they didn’t have to because they were really engaged; hopefully, because it is a mutual exploration of ideas and a pleasant learning environment. I also believe that engaged students can do almost anything, so I lead pedagogically with value and values.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: I would bring my version of the UKPSF that is composed of quotes from Confucius’ Analects. The External Examiner for our PGCert pointed out that we were decolonising the curriculum when I mentioned that we shared this with staff in Cultures of Learning workshop. I choose this prop because we made it not thinking about decolonisation, but about using materials that were relevant to our learners, which is advice we would give any teacher. I am also quite interested in Chinese philosophy, and it started me down the path of one of my main areas of research, applying classical Chinese knowledge to contemporary learning and teaching.
  • Luxury item: would be a boat to go visit other islands, but if I was stuck, a hammock to string between trees.

Any sparks? How might our joined-up Treasure Islands look like?

There were lots of commonalities in our different learning contexts, including the Māori and Confucian traditions in today’s episode. We discussed that learning happens best when we focus on the whole person and create, through various rituals, the right environment for learning, including value-based approaches, the concept of togetherness and student empowerment through inquiry-based approaches. Two of our guests talked about the good problem of over-attendance in their classes, with students returning to their classes even when they no longer have to, as well as the power of community and connection that creates a sense of belonging. In Māori tradition, hospitality plays a great part in learning. ‘Kai’ time – food in Māori – is one such ritual, creating an informal space where people can ‘be themselves’ and so can learn more than in formal spaces. We agreed that eating together is how we should start co-habiting our joined-up Islands.

Links / resources 

  • Wananga: an indigenous tertiary learning institution designed to offer learning that is characterised by teaching and research that advances and disseminates knowledge based in Māori tradition and custom

From Jaye:

From Shazia:

From Charlie: 

Facilitated by Dr Tünde Varga-Atkins, Sound: Chris Loxham, Web design: Dennis Wong, @LivUniCIE