#NZAREtop10: Our top 10 most-read posts of 2017

Ipu Kererū, the NZARE blog, was launched in June 2017 to provide a space for members of NZARE to share their views and research findings related to education in NZ and internationally. We have been thrilled with both the blog contributions we have received and the enormous interest from our wider community!

Here’s a run-down of our #NZARE2017 top 10 posts of 2017, with direct links to each one. Together, this collection provides interesting insights into the ‘hot topics’ around education in Aotearoa in 2017.

It’s also great to see the mix of contributors reflected in this top 10, ranging from senior academics who are national and global leaders in their fields to postgraduate students reporting on their masters or doctoral research. He waka eke noa – we are all on this journey together.


1. Election 2017: Spotlight on early childhood policy (link)

Residents Vote In Mana By-Election

Our most-read post of 2017 was published in the lead-up to the September general election. NZARE co-president A/Prof Jenny Ritchie‘s post examined each political party’s policies in relation to early childhood education and care. Jenny considered how the various policies compared to structural, processual, social justice and equity criteria for high-quality early childhood provision.


2. The end of National Standards and the role of researchers and academics (link)

02 Measuring apple

Another political post follows as our second most-read post of 2017 – NZARE McKenzie Award winner Prof Martin Thrupp‘s reflections in light of the newly-formed government’s moves to throw out NZ’s controversial National Standards regime. Martin reviews the history of National Standards, acknowledges researchers’ and academics’ efforts to push back against this policy, and considers the way forward for education in Aotearoa.


3. Reflections on flexible learning spaces (link)

FLS 2 widescreen

Flexible learning spaces – innovative learning environments – modern learning environments – these have all been ‘buzz words’ in recent years due to the NZ Ministry of Education’s policies for school property design and development. In this post, Dr Leon Benade shares some of his observations arising from his intensive research into the experiences of teachers working in twenty-first century NZ schools.


4. Relational aggression: Why are young children so mean? (link)

cardboard man broken heart

In this post, Dr Cara Swit reports findings from her doctoral research into relational aggression among preschoolers, demonstrating that even young children are aware and intentional in their use of aggressive relational behaviours. Cara highlights concerning trends among parents and teachers, who tend to downplay the importance of relational (compared to physical) forms of aggression, contrary to research recommendations and best practice.


5. How modern are ‘modern’ or ‘innovative’ learning environments in NZ? (link)

Fig 1

Returning to the theme of modern learning environments, this post by Dr Noeline Wright presents evidence of flexible learning spaces and student-centred educational design principles being used in NZ across the past 100 years. Noeline argues that the key factor in changing the nature of education is not the physical classroom space but, rather, the innovative attitudes and practices of the classroom teacher/s.


6. Who should learn most about White Privilege – Māori students or Pākehā students? (link)

Blaine art for thesis.jpg

Many NZ educators were powerfully impacted by Dr Ann Milne‘s keynote address on “white spaces” in NZ schools at the 2017 uLearn conference. In this post, Ann demonstrates the importance of all students (and all New Zealanders) learning about and becoming critically conscious of racist elements of our education system and wider society. Ann argues that “The reason we need to teach Pākehā children about privilege is not to make them feel guilt—it is to make sure they do not grow up to perpetuate the situation.”


7. Thriving or just surviving? Exploring teacher wellbeing (link)

04 hearts

Other blogs in this #NZAREtop10 have highlighted some of the initiatives placing huge demands on NZ teachers – flexible learning environments, National Standards, and curriculum integration, to name just a few! It is fitting, therefore, that this post by Meg Gallagher examines factors that help teachers maintain a sense of balance and wellbeing. Based on her recent masters research, Meg highlights themes including people-centred leadership, positive and supportive relationships, a strong sense of purpose, and teacher self-efficacy.


8. What will it take to make a difference for learners of Te Reo Māori? (link)

Whanau mai te reo cover

In this post, Nicola Bright highlights the fact that most learners of Te Reo Māori are attending English-medium schools. Nicola considers what NZ schools can do to contribute to Te Reo revitalisation, and provides a practical yet challenging set of questions that schools can use to reflect on their learning pathways for Te Reo Māori, their transition processes for Te Reo learners, their ways of involving whānau and developing home/school links, and how the school environments support Te Reo Māori use.


9. Curriculum integration – Challenging the popular narrative (link)

04 jigsaw round

This post by NZARE Sutton-Smith Award winner Dr Graham McPhail reviews the popular arguments in favour of curriculum integration as a way to prepare students for the future we can’t yet imagine. Based on his research on NZ secondary school teachers’ use of curriculum integration, Graham challenges these popular arguments and cautions that “it is much harder than it looks”. He suggests proceeding with caution and with an awareness of the underlying goals and assumptions related to curriculum integration efforts.


10. The place and possibilities of active participation in inclusive early childhood education (link)

Kate Cover image

Our #NZAREtop10 concludes with a post that both warms the heart and challenges the status quo in terms of how we sometimes respond to disabled children in NZ society. Kate McAnelly reports on her masters research, which involved an ethnographic case study of an early childhood centre that was highly successful in supporting active engagement and inclusion for a disabled boy. She highlights the human rights foundation for inclusive education and questions why more early childhood practice does not reflect this foundation.


We hope you have enjoyed this #NZAREtop10 for 2017! We are looking forward to many more inspiring and challenging posts in 2018. Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi – with your contribution and mine, the people will prosper.

Who knows – perhaps your name might appear in the 2018 #NZAREtop10?! Click here to learn more about how to contribute your research or opinions to Ipu Kererū.

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