Skip to content
Reading time: 2 minutes
headshot of Derek Taira
Derek Taira

A $15,000 grant will help a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education professor to design a website dedicated to the history of education in Hawaiʻi, with a focus on schooling during the territorial period. Department of Educational Foundations (EDEF) Assistant Professor Derek Taira was awarded the grant from the Spencer Foundation.

Over the next six months, Taira will collaborate with the college’s Distance Course Design & Consulting group to build a website for educators, students and the general public to visit and learn about Hawaiʻi’s educational past.

“We are delighted that Dr. Taira is receiving his third grant from the prestigious Spencer Foundation for his significant work and research,” EDEF Chair Xu Di said. “Dr. Taira’s work brings a part of Hawaiian history that is not widely known to many of us. His critical examination offers profound insights for Hawaiian Indigenous education and its contribution to the world.”

Taira is a previous Spencer Foundation Fellow (2019) and grant recipient for his research project, Forward Without Fear: Native Hawaiians Contesting Americanization in Territorial Hawaii’s Public Schools, 1900–1941. His research reveals a story of Native Hawaiian involvement in education through the examination of Hawaiian language newspapers and petitions, Native Hawaiian student and teacher writings and legislative journals.

“I am very thankful for the continued support of the Spencer Foundation in advancing historical inquiry into the study of education,” Taira said. “This extension of my previous grant project provides me the opportunity to go beyond an academic audience and make my findings accessible to pre- and in-service teachers and the broader public.”

black and white image of McKinley High School building
Historical photo of McKinley High School. (Photo courtesy: Hawaiʻi Department of Education)

Plans for the website include a scaffold approach to engage a wide audience through images, audio, video and brief descriptions of the major events and themes within the period. The website will also provide additional resources for audiences who wish to learn more, such as detailed information for students, primary source documents for historians and researchers, and curricular materials for teachers. Taira’s project has already produced subsequent articles as well as material for an upcoming book.

“History is not static and undergoes constant negotiation of how and what to tell those in the present about the past,” Taira said. “My findings will hopefully provide educators with opportunities to promote student interest and active engagement with learning about the past as well as develop important skills in collecting, assessing and consuming information.”

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

Back To Top