Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
New Zealand educator Sylvia Ashton-Warner (played by Eleanor David) is the subject of this informative and slightly uneven biography, based on the events in Ashton-Warner's adult life. During the 1930s Ashton-Warner moves to a remote village with her husband who has been appointed to be the headmaster in the school there. She tries to teach the Maori children but is having absolutely no luck at all -- that is especially discouraging considering that she is also fighting off culture shock and the effects of a recent emotional breakdown. Driven to find some solace in music, painting, and sculpting, she one day realizes she can use these types of creative activities as teaching tools -- and begins to develop an innovative way to reach her students. She is surprisingly successful, a fact which does not interest the all-male administrators at the school who insist she teach using traditional methods. The stand-off is severe enough that the men burn the manuscript for a new primer Ashton-Warner wrote, insisting later that this was an accident. No one seems to have come out a winner in Sylvia Ashton-Warner's battle with the provincial educators, least of all the students.
writing, cross-cultural-relations, native, racism, reading-skills, teacher