A recently released report on the draft curriculum content for teaching New Zealand’s ‘histories’ in our schools points to a determination to continue down the path of foisting upon our children an ideologically driven lop-sided version of our history. This is despite much criticism about the lack of balance in the draft content from historians, educationalists, parents/family, and community members.
The Ministry of Education released the report after considering submissions made earlier this year. While we have yet to see the finalised curriculum, the report states that “There will not be any radical changes to the content and any additional content will be in line with what currently exists”.
Although the Ministry acknowledges calls in the submissions for more diverse and wide-ranging topics, it reaffirms that:
“The draft curriculum content has been developed to reflect the significance of Māori histories in New Zealand and to honour te Tiriti o Waitangi and the partnership between the Crown and tangata whenua.
“Suggested changes that would contradict the aims of the New Zealand education system and the Crown’s obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi will not be acted upon”.
Despite several requests, (one such is available HERE), the public has been denied access to the written submissions. Instead, we are instructed to rely on an analysis of the submissions undertaken by the following organisations:
The report states that consultation shows general support for the history curriculum content. However, they also state that teachers were more positive about the content than other groups such as parents/family and community members. Maybe this less than positive feedback from parents/caregivers and the public is the reason the authors of the report have chosen to focus on the responses of five groupings i.e., students, teachers, Māori, Pasifika and Asian.
The report promotes six key messages:
- There was general support for the history curriculum content. Most respondents provided supportive comments about the draft curriculum content, offering constructive feedback, and pointing to areas for further improvement;
- People saw strong links between the history curriculum content and their identity, culture, and citizenship;
- Schools will play a significant role in whether or not the implementation of the history curriculum content proves successful;
- People were supportive of bringing Māori histories to the forefront of the history curriculum content alongside other histories
- Partnering with hapū and iwi was seen as a significant step in the right direction, but resourcing and support is needed; and
- People had differing views about the nature of history. “Those who believed in the idea that there is only one “true” version of history were overall less positive in their responses. Such responses often conveyed the sense that the history content must be “objective”, “unbiased”, and “accurate”.
The Ministry of Education is planning to release the finalised Te Takanga o Te Wā (Māori history), and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content this month. The final content will be considered by the Minister of Education and Cabinet before it is published and available for schools to use. Schools will begin including ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories’ in their local curricula for history during 2022, “working in partnership with their communities to introduce local histories and contexts that are meaningful for their students”.
‘Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories’ marks the first step towards the changes in the respective curriculum documents. Over the next five years, the Ministry of Education is undertaking a revamp of the national curriculum which includes The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Mātauranga o Aotearoa. These changes include the intention to “honour our past and obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi”.
MoE: Reports on the consultation for the draft curriculum content are available here: Aotearoa New Zealand's histories and Te Takanga o te Wā – Education in New Zealand.
MoE: Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories: What you told us and how we’re responding
School News: Finalised Aotearoa New Zealand history curriculum nears
MoE media release: The Ministry of Education releases the public consultation documents and its feedback for Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories
You can access the draft curriculum at: Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in our national curriculum – Education in New Zealand
MoE: Refreshing The New Zealand Curriculum Curriculum and assessment changes