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Learning Areas
Important for a broad, general education
The New Zealand Curriculum specifies eight learning areas: English, the arts, health and physical education, learning languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences, and technology. Each area has it's own Essence statements.
The learning associated with each area is part of a broad, general education and lays a foundation for later specialisation. Like the key competencies, this learning is both end and means: valuable in itself and valuable for the pathways it opens to other learning.

Learning areas and language
Each learning area has its own language or languages. As students discover how to use them, they find they are able to think in different ways, access new areas of knowledge, and see their world from new perspectives.
For each area, students need specific help from their teachers as they learn:
• the specialist vocabulary associated with that area;
• how to read and understand its texts;
• how to communicate knowledge and ideas in appropriate ways;
• how to listen and read critically, assessing the value of what they hear and read.
In addition to such help, students who are new learners of English or coming into an English-medium environment for the first time need explicit and extensive teaching of English vocabulary, word forms, sentence and text structures, and language uses.
As language is central to learning and English is the medium for most learning in the New Zealand Curriculum, the importance of literacy in English cannot be overstated.

Things to Consider:
  • Connect the Key Competencies to all learning areas.
  • Make links between the learning areas so that students can transfer knowledge and skills across them.
  • Develop effective pedagogies to meet the needs of the different areas.
  • Show how your school's vision, principles and values are reflected in each learning area.

Key Questions:

What constitutes knowledge?

What is our argument for educational rigor and breadth/depth of the curriculum? Who decides this?

What does it authentic learning mean? What is Authentic Learning?

What are trying to achieve?

What do the essence statements mean?

What do we mean by coverage?

Facilitation Strategy:

Educational Debate:

"In terms of prioritizing the curriculum... The Essential Learning areas deemed the most important to teach are: The Arts and Health & P.E".

When debating this argument think about:
  • Your vision and beliefs about teaching in the 21st Century
  • Tie your argument into what we are trying to achieve for our learners in the 21st Century
  • Support your argument with references to educational rigor and breadth/depth of the curriculum
  • Make references to Negs and Nags if appropriate
  • Strengthen your debate with comparisons to other Learning Areas and their Essence Statements

1. Sort into six teams of four people facing each other... Team 1 – For the Statement and Team 2 – Against the Statement
2. Using large sheets of paper, each team must takes time to collate main ideas for or against the argument posed. (10mins)
3. Pose arguments utilising the sub categories above.
4. Each team member is to take alternative turns (1 first, 5 second and so on) to clearly debate/animate the issues. (5 mins to construct)
5. Statements must not be longer than one paragraph each.
6. Props, technology, research, curriculum documents quotes can be used to enforce the argument. Present argument alternatively (10mins)
7. All groups reconvene to reflect on outcomes of this activity. (5 mins)

This activity can raise discussion about the importance of:
  • Learning Areas, any reference to priorities or the hidden curriculum?
  • Structural decisions: subject-based, topic-based, or integrated?
  • Coverage decisions: “mile-wide, inch-deep” versus “inch-wide, mile-deep”?


Knowledge, the disciplines and learning in the digital age (Macromedia Breeze presentation)
Dr Jane Gilbert from NZCER poses some questions and challenges for education in the 21st century in a keynote address to the ULearn conference in 2006.

Freedom to Teach Creatively - This article is by Trevor Bond, called, "Freedom to Teach Creatively Granted by The Ministry Of Education & The Educational Review Office" which make links to comments about breadth/depth delivery of the curriculum and addresses what is at the forefront of everyone's mind in terms of... "What about coverage of the curriculum? What about assessment, recording and reporting requirements? What about our next ERO review?

Putting and End to Topical Research article by Jamie McKenzie. He writes, "When students conduct topical research, they do little more thana scoop up information. Topical research requires little thinking and little imagination. It pays few dividends. It does almost nothing to prepare students for the kinds of thinking skills listed in state and provincial curriculum standards".

Building a New Paradigm: The Global Curriculum overview by Mark Treadwell looks at a move over time towards a A Concept Based Curriculum.

Building a New Paradigm The Global Curriculum 2: by Mark Treadwell looking at balanced, authentic learning for deeper understanding.

Building a New Paradigm The Global Curriculum 3: The new approach to curriculum design centers around identifying the key concepts which it is felt young learners should understand and from there develop the associated content and then finally a range of contexts.