Palapala

1. nvt. Document of any kind, bill, deed, warrant, certificate, policy, letter, tract, writ, diploma, manuscript; writing of any kind, literature; printing on tapa or paper; formerly the Scriptures or learning in general; to write, send a written message.

Pah lah pah lah

Halau Mohala Ilima

Halau Mohala Ilima

This word came to me because just the other day someone was asked to apply for a certain job vacancy, and she said, “I cannot, I no more the palapala,” meaning she did not have a degree. Degree, shmegree. We ALL know that the palapala doesn’t say it all. In all ways but that, she was WAY qualified for the job.

Back in the days of our kupuna, an expert in any given field, whether it be medical (such as a kahuna hānau keiki – obstetrician) or otherwise (such as a kahuna kālai waʻa or canoe carver) had no need for a palapala. Their skill level was determined by the kahuna they trained with after years and years of instruction, which included a lot of OJT. Competency in the field was measured by ability, not by completion of required courses and fulfillment of a research project or thesis. Palapala today proves that one has completed required course work and possibly a lengthy project. It does not necessarily mean that someone is competent, has common sense and able to function successfully in a given expertise. I have known teachers who have graduate degrees and National Board certification and they are an embarrassment to education. And others who are fresh out of college with just an undergraduate degree and they do fabulously.

Today we have kumu hula who have trained for years to reach a certain level of expertise (myself included). We also have those who are reaching new levels in lua (Hawaiian martial arts), navigation, and visual arts. A palapala can never truly attest to their expertise. Ma ka hana ka ʻike. In doing, one knows. Perhaps we need to return to this method of education: extensive training from a very young age (maybe this would do our “failing” high school students much better), hands on, in the field, real life experience, and that all important spiritual component, paying attention to signs all around, in the nuances, and in the belief that there are higher powers in existence. No need the palapala.

He aupuni palapala koʻu; ʻo ke kanaka pono ʻo ia koʻu kanaka – Mine is the kingdom of education; the righteous man is my man. (Uttered by Kamehameha III.)

Copyright: 2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] gmail.com. Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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