Kororāreka Beach, by Augustus Earle

As regular readers know, Roger Childs is writing a series of critiques of this proposed curriculum. Here’s another by another Roger — Roger Partridge, on journalist Chris Trotter’s blog. Normally Roger Partridge’s columns appear in the NZ Herald. This one did not.

EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO, the Government announced a curriculum change making it compulsory for all schools to teach “key aspects” of New Zealand history. The Ministry of Education was tasked with creating a new curriculum to “span the full range of New Zealanders’ experiences… with contemporary issues directly linked to major events of the past.”

Asking the Ministry of Education to draft a compulsory New Zealand History curriculum for school children was always fraught with risk. The Ministry has disavowed knowledge-based curricula – to the extent that the much-vaunted National Curriculum fits on a scanty 64 A4 pages. It covers the entire social sciences for years 1-13 in a single page.

As educationalist Briar Lipson revealed in her 2020 book, New Zealand’s Education Delusion: How bad ideas ruined a once world-leading school system, overwhelming evidence suggests the Ministry’s anti-knowledge stance is behind the decline in Kiwi students’ educational outcomes over the last two decades. Consequently, the shift to a knowledge-based curriculum at least for teaching New Zealand history is a welcome development.

But how would the Ministry cope with designing a curriculum that does justice to New Zealand’s rich history? Not well, is the answer.

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