This issue of Curriculum Matters contains an enticing range of articles across themes of culture and diversity and contested and contradictory notions of curriculum. Three articles explore aspects of the social sciences curriculum and three focus on mathematics, including an exploration of curriculum change in mathematics through the lens of Parliamentary discussion over the past two decades. One article challenges the borrowing of epistemological concepts from one cultural context for use in another, using the example of the concept of hauora, while another discusses equity and diversity at the level of teacher practice. In the editorial, Carol Mutch reflects on a year of turmoil, including the Christchurch earthquakes and the Pike River mine explosion and what the response to these events might teach us about the connections between crisis, curriculum and citizenship
In a year of unprecedented events in New Zealand’s history, in which I was to lose people close to me and in which I saw firsthand the toll taken on my hometown community of Greymouth and my current place of residence, Christchurch, I cannot reflect on this year in curriculum without relating it to those events. As I write this, the clean-up of the oil spill following the Rena’s grounding off Tauranga is also underway—another example to support the points I will make.
In this editorial I would like to tie together notions of crisis, curriculum and citizenship. In a previous Curriculum Matters editorial, I presented a broad definition of curriculum (Mutch, 2009). This explored curriculum from society’s aspirations, through official documents, to teachers’ interpretations and students’ responses. In the 2011 editorial, I will link the way in which the official curriculum has interpreted society’s aspirations and how the responses to the disasters of the past year demonstrate particular ways in which New Zealanders act as citizens when faced with major crises.
Curriculum and assessment, Education history, Maths education
This paper explores views of mathematics that have been offered in parliamentary exchanges over the past two decades. It makes connections between the development of mathematics curriculum and the political and ideological arrangements in which curriculum is nested. In tracing how school mathematics debates in parliamentary sessions are set within specific social, cultural and economic contexts, we draw attention to an increasing national drive for competitiveness and to heightened allegations of falling standards.
Rawiri Hindle, Catherine Savage, Luanna H. Meyer, Christine E. Sleeter, Anne Hynds and Wally Penetito
Arts, Curriculum and assessment, Māori and education
In New Zealand the majority of students attend schools that reflect the dominant mainstream context, yet these schools include indigenous Māori and learners from diverse cultural and language backgrounds. By building on contemporary cultural knowledge and students’ own experiences, the arts have the potential to enhance educational outcomes for a diverse student population. This research examines the effects of an intensive programme of teacher professional development in culturally responsive pedagogies on classroom activities and learning experiences in the arts. The results reveal varying levels of implementation, with consequent effects on the teaching and learning process for students. The implications of these findings are discussed with reference to the literature on arts integration and how the arts can build on students’ cultural knowledge and experiences.
This paper conceives history in the New Zealand curriculum as a curriculum problem. In exposing this problem, history’s identity is thrown into question. I outline a motif of disturbance in light of my professional experiences of history curriculum and assessment policy shifts (1990s to 2010). From a critical pedagogy stance, I conceive the national curriculum’s events-based orientation to history as traditional and played out in pedagogy as exclusive cultural reproduction. From a critical pedagogy stance, I consider a counter approach to history curriculum that engages teacher agency and frees up possibilities for students’ historical thinking.
Curriculum and assessment, Implementing New Zealand Curriculum, Key competencies
This paper views key competencies through a sociocultural lens to discuss the role they have played as agents of change in The New Zealand Curriculum and their as yet unrealised potential to stimulate further change. It draws on several exploratory studies to describe broad types of action and change which the key competencies have afforded, tracing several recursive cycles of professional learning during which understanding of the role key competencies might play in curriculum change became elaborated in deeper and more nuanced ways.
Curriculum and assessment, Implementing New Zealand Curriculum, Maths education, Student engagement
The aim of this article is to comment on the ways in which beliefs and theories of learning affect the teaching and learning of mathematics. When mathematics is viewed as a static body of knowledge, a transmission style of teaching is often employed. In contrast, a radical constructivist view of learning suggests that mathematics could be a constructive and creative endeavour. We suggest that this perspective of mathematics aligns with the principles, values and key competencies in The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). Examples relevant to the context of primary mathematics education are considered.
Currently, the Māori word hauora is translated in New Zealand curricula as health and wellbeing or as health and physical education for Māori-medium education. “Hauora, wellbeing” is also an underlying concept within Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum, where it is claimed that it offers a “Māori philosophy of health unique to New Zealand”. The use of Māori words and concepts in English-medium curricula is a source of tension, in as much as this usage involves a claim to represent a shared Māori perspective. Understandings of hauora need to go beyond their simplified interpretations within curricula.
Curriculum and assessment, Implementing New Zealand Curriculum
The official New Zealand curriculum as it pertains to social sciences embodies tensions between newer transformative and older transmissive agendas for education, and in its disciplinary divisions. This article explores the mixed messages in the curriculum for teaching and learning within social sciences. I argue that tensions in the curriculum and its permissive nature mean that “progress” towards different forms of education in social sciences will inevitably be slow and variable. The nature of change will be contingent on practitioners’ understanding of the curriculum and of these ideological tensions.
Curriculum and assessment, Implementing New Zealand Curriculum
In November 2007, changes to the New Zealand curriculum were published, with an expectation that schools would fully implement these changes by February 2010 (Schagen, 2011, p. 1). Among the changes were aspects that encouraged greater recognition of an entrepreneurial orientation. We set out to gauge the understanding preservice teachers have of entrepreneurship. We found divergent perspectives on whether entrepreneurship is more closely associated with economic processes and commercial activity, or can be more broadly applied to subject areas such as the arts, languages and music. However, a consistent finding across all groups was that preservice teachers are unaware of the requirement to teach entrepreneurship across the curriculum. Teaching entrepreneurship was seen as a “bolt on” subject and not as embedded in current subject matter. This indicates a lack of familiarity with the intent of the revised New Zealand curriculum, which has made it clear that teachers are expected to encourage New Zealand school students to have an entrepreneurial outlook.
Curriculum and assessment, Learning, Maths education
International comparative studies offer unique opportunities to interrogate and challenge embedded practices within education systems. In this paper we explore the textbook presentation of fractions from a Chinese text. The fraction tasks reviewed in the Chinese text involve practice on learnt knowledge as well as exercises designed to extend the learnt knowledge to generate integrated knowledge structures and to develop flexible problem-solving abilities. Designed using the theory of “teaching with variation”, these tasks reflect cultural expectations about what content is important, how mathematics can be taught and what competence is valued for students. In this paper we consider how these task activities compare with those from a recently published New Zealand text.
Curriculum and assessment, Educational policy; structure and systems, Māori and education, Pasifika, Schooling for the future
The Ministry of Education is endeavouring to build an education system that is responsive to the challenges of the 21st century. This includes revising the school curriculum and a major investment in programmes of research and development. This paper examines the discourses relating to diversity and education that have become embedded in the very foundations of national education policy and subsequent practice. These are often assumed to be unproblematic and go uncontested, but this paper identifies a (dis)array of ideas and understandings, and argues that these arise from a lack of conceptual clarity. This has implications for decision making by implementers of policy, which can serve to restrict (rather than enhance) their efforts to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning, particularly for groups of learners the education system has under-served.
Since the introduction of senior social studies for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA ) in 2002, some progress has been made towards developing a unique identity for the subject. This progress has clarified a number of unresolved tensions relating to the nature and purpose of social studies, which have recurred during its 65-year history in New Zealand. This paper will explore how recent developments in senior social studies can productively influence pedagogy in junior secondary school social studies classes, thus improving the credibility and status of the subject at both levels in the secondary school context.