Curriculum Development in New Zealand: New Directions, Opportunities and Challenges for School Geography

December 2013
Review of International Geographical Education Online;Winter2014, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p241
Academic Journal
Geography as a senior subject in New Zealand secondary schools has been long overdue for curriculum change. The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) currently being implemented at the senior school level provides geography with the mechanisms for positive curriculum change, giving teachers the opportunity to refocus on existing teaching, learning and assessment practices. Important paradigm shifts include devolving curriculum making to schools, embracing student ownership of learning, emphasizing a conceptual understanding approach and re-aligning the national geography assessment standards to the new curriculum. Although the implementation of the NZC is widely perceived as providing the needed stimulus to transform high school geography into a key subject for 21st Century learners, the process to date has not been without challenges. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to identify the new directions and opportunities offered by the NZC using document analysis and review of associated literature. Second, using results from a teacher survey plus semi-structured interviews with heads of geography departments is to document teacher perceptions about uptake of the intended curriculum, challenges faced and the extent to which the state rhetoric is reflected in the new programs being planned by teachers of geography.


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