Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learning dispositions.

I believe people are learning animals. I learn like the mako shark swims, because to do anything else is to be a fish out of water, but I don't learn as fast or fiercely as a baby. 

Learning dispositions are a human birthright, and if we want people to be life-long learners, or even happy, we must try to avoid inhibiting them. 

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Spirals of teaching and learning.

In Thinking Children there's an example of spirals as a schema; certainly some people really love spirals and use them as a primary notion for exploring and interpreting the world.

When Wilton Playcentre was at work on its COI we studied ourselves studying the children, some of whom were into spirals. We studied ourselves with action research spirals: we'd do something, notice what we'd done, recognise and think about what we did, respond by working out something else to do and then do that. This is a research spiral because it's sort of circular but as we added what we thought of to what we did before the details are a bit different each time, like a spiral we didn't find ourselves exactly where we were before.

Our school's having a curriculum community meeting on Thursday. The New Zealand Curriculum tells the school to design and review our own curriculum; there was a survey recently (which my family failed to answer) and the meeting will look at some of the findings from it as the first step of consultation on the curriculum.


Connecting and ordering.

Connecting and ordering are also schemas. Again there are people who love to do them, and people who use them as a primary way of exploring and interpreting the world.

At the bottom of The New Zealand Curriculum's Design and Review page is this picture of how Te Whāriki (New Zealand's early childhood curriculum) relates to the school curriculum.

This chart intrigues me, and for now I'm going to assume that, as the country's curriculum people were put to work on it all, the relationships between the strands and the key competencies is as straightforward as it suggests.

I notice that The NZC orders its key competencies thus:
  1. Thinking
  2. Using language, symbols, and texts
  3. Managing self
  4. Relating to others
  5. Participating and contributing.
I don't yet know why it does that. I also notice that it orders the strands of Te Whāriki (New Zealand's Early Childhood Curriculum) in the same order.
  1. Exploration – Mana Aotūroa,
  2. Communication – Mana Reo,
  3. Well-being – Mana Atua,
  4. Contribution – Mana Tangata, and
  5. Belonging – Mana Whenua

At Wilton Playcentre we found having the strands in Te Whāriki in the following order to be useful.
  1. Belonging – Mana Whenua,
  2. Well-being – Mana Atua,
  3. Exploration – Mana Aotūroa,
  4. Communication – Mana Reo,
  5. Contribution – Mana Tangata.
I think that was how we organised them on our Teaching and Learning Story Forms even before our Centre of Innovation action research spiral on our documentation, assessment and planning, but we've certainly done it since then. We find this order useful because, although all the strands work together, people do tend to need to feel safe before they can feel like they belong somewhere. Little people need to have their well-being and belonging well under their belts before they feel ready to try exploration, communication or contribution. Contribution is very tricky without communication or having explored the environment first.

Given the relationship between the strands and the key competencies I wonder whether the following would be a useful order for considering the key competencies (or not).
  1. Participating and contributing
  2. Managing self
  3. Thinking
  4. Using language, symbols, and texts
  5. Relating to others.
I suppose I'll find out after I learn what the key competencies really mean. Towards that end I plan to read some of the resources available at

In case you're curious, Te Whāriki orders its own strands thus:
  1. Well-being – Mana Atua,
  2. Belonging – Mana Whenua
  3. Contribution – Mana Tangata,
  4. Communication – Mana Reo,
  5. Exploration – Mana Aotūroa.
Which would make the NZC key competencies come in this order:
  1. Managing self
  2. Participating and contributing.
  3. Relating to others
  4. Using language, symbols, and texts
  5. Thinking
Something tells me that the meeting on Thursday is going to be a bit introductory. What I'd like is perhaps more like a reading group on these sorts of things. I wonder what my EduNerdNight people are up to these days.


The New Zealand Curriculum.

"It takes as its starting point a vision of our young people as lifelong learners who are confident and creative, connected, and actively involved."
Hazel and I agree, this is a good vision to start a curriculum with.


Thursday, September 18, 2008


I just downloaded Te Whāriki (New Zealand's Early Childhood Curriculum) and The New Zealand Curriculum (for English speaking schools), I look forward to reading them together.

At the end of the nineties I spent a couple of years working at BDLC in Bloomington, Indiana, where we used the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)'s guidelines to help us provide a developmentally appropriate, child-oriented centre. When I moved back to New Zealand in 2000 I worked at Kea House (a centre in Victoria University) for a bit and since 2002 I've been at Wilton Playcentre. I've very much enjoyed working with Te Whaariki for the last 8 years and I'm curious about the one-year-old curriculum for schools.

I think Te Whaariki might be a useful document to make a way of life actually. I certainly don't forsee a time or place in which I will want to stop growing up as a competent and confident learner and communicator, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in my sense of belonging and in the knowledge that I make a valued contribution to society.

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