Margaret M Blackwell Travel Fellowship
The 2013 fellowship
The 2013 fellowship has been decided and the winner will be announced shortly.
The fellowship was initiated in 1988 and is now administered by NZCER on behalf of the trust.
The award is for a period of up to three months but not less than six weeks. Applications must be related to the topics listed below. The award is for $16,000 and is for travel and accommodation.
The Ministry of Education has recognised the fellowship as a prestigious award, which means the recipient may be eligible for leave with pay, subject to the approval of their employing authority.
Who is eligible?
It is open to current practitioners in the broad field of early childhood education in New Zealand. The successful recipient will be selected from:
a) Teachers, supervisors and workers from all sectors of early childhood education
b) Lecturers in appropriate disciplines in tertiary institutions.
For inquiries please contact Sarah Boyd on 04-8021468 or
Topic for 2013
.1. Developing collaborative communities of practice in linguistically and culturally diverse communities.
The importance of involving children and their families in early childhood education has been demonstrated in much recent research. Some of this research uses the notion of a ‘community of practice’, a term developed by Wenger (1998) to describe a context for learning. According to Wenger, communities of practice form whenever individuals develop a shared repertoire of practices over time through their mutual engagement in joint activity. Shared repertoires develop and continue to evolve through the participation of members. This notion is quite widely accepted as being an important way to involve children and families in the shared practices of the early childhood community, but we have little insight into how this can be achieved within communities that have children and families with diverse ethnicities, cultures, religions and languages. It is relatively easy for both children and families to feel like outsiders to the established community of practice, something that Wenger cautions teachers to consider. In an increasingly multicultural and multilingual country, many teachers are faced with the challenges of how to build a collaborative and inclusive community of practice, which legitimates the learning that children and their families bring to the centre. Many countries are dealing with this issue, particularly countries with indigenous populations and/or high immigration such as Australia, Canada, USA, UK, parts of Asia, and parts of Europe, such as Germany and some of the Nordic countries. A study which examined some key principles for establishing communities of practice in linguistically and culturally diverse early childhood settings would be of considerable value to early childhood educators.
2. Encouraging environmental awareness in young children.
Internationally, there is a great deal of interest in ensuring the planet’s survival, as the effects of global warming and misuse of environmental resources impact on our future supplies of essential resources. Many children grow up in highly urbanised environments and have little contact or understanding with the land which produces essential resources such as food. Some New Zealand universities have identified food and agribusiness as the most important topics that future research needs to focus on. Agribusiness is also of key importance to Mãori, who following Treaty of Waitangi settlements now have the responsibility for both caring for iwi lands, but also ensuring effective and economic production of food for their communities and sustainable income. In some countries, supporting children to become wise consumers of the future is of paramount importance and with this is the need to understand where food comes from, how it is produced and how the environment needs to be cared for in order to ensure that the populations of the future have enough to eat. A study which examined some of the more interesting approaches to teaching environmental awareness in young children would be of considerable use to early childhood teachers in this country. There is potential learning in many countries, but particularly in the Nordic countries and in the United Kingdom, where Forest Schools have begun to make an impact and in parts of Asia, such as Singapore, where children are living in extremely urbanised environments.