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Teaching social studies for critical, active citizenship in Aotearoa New Zealand

ISBN 978-0-947509-41-5

Social studies education plays a critical role in developing young people as active and engaged citizens in uncertain, complex times. This edited collection presents the latest research, ideas and practice in the social studies learning area in Aotearoa New Zealand. The writers challenge educators and policy makers to think deeply about the purpose of social studies and its transformative potential for citizenship education. They offer a direct challenge to the idea that social studies education is about preparing students to fit easily and uncritically into existing society – and suggest as alternative that social studies can support learners to critically navigate and take action in society during their time at school and in their futures.

Chapters delve into the Tikanga ā Iwi learning area, issues-based social inquiry, social justice, viewpoints and perspective, engaging emotions, multiliteracies and using assessment to enhance learning within social studies. Questions about the nature of knowledge and how students learn to be critical and active citizens are themes throughout, with reflective questions provided to provoke discussion.

This book is essential reading for teachers working with the core social studies learning area for Years 1–10, as well as the optional subject and related social science subjects from Years 11–13. It will also be of interest to policy makers, government and resource developers. 


Michael Harcourt is a social studies teacher at Wellington High School. He has taught for 11 years and has a special interest in social studies that is place-based and culturally responsive.

Andrea Milligan is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington. Her research relates a number of intersecting themes related to social sciences and citizenship education.

Bronwyn Wood is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests lie at the intersection of sociology, geography and education and centre on issues relating to youth participation, citizenship and geographies of education.