Te Whaariki

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712—1778) French philosopher and writer

John Dewey (1859—1952) American philosopher and educationist

Susan Isaacs (1885—1948) educational psychologist and psychoanalyst

Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896—1934)


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The New Zealand Ministry of Education early childhood curriculum policy statement, published in 1996. It is a framework for providing children's early learning and development within a sociocultural context. It emphasizes the learning partnership between teachers, parents, families, and children, and is the bicultural, incorporating Maori as well as Western cultural values. It represents a national curriculum for the early childhood sector in New Zealand, and is intended to encourage the aspirations of children as competent, confident learners and communicators who know that they can make a valued contribution to society. Its philosophy closely reflects that which underpins the development of Reggio Emilia schooling, and it has been influential in the design of the UK Birth to Three Matters framework.

Its four broad principles of empowerment, holistic development, family and community, and relationships are interwoven; hence Te Whaariki: a Maori word meaning a woven mat for all to stand on. Within those principles there are five strands: well‐being, belonging, contribution, communication, and exploration. The principles and strands are assessed through narrative observations, or learning stories, of children's activities and dispositions, with additional evidence of photographic records to highlight learning processes.

This curriculum framework is closely aligned to the experiential and philosophical ideas of Rousseau, Dewey, Isaacs, Vygotsky, and Malaguzzi, and has therefore attracted international interest among early years practitioners.

Further Reading:

Ministry of Education Te Whaariki: He Whaariki Matauranga mo nga Moi Aoteroa. Early Childhood Education (Learning Media, 1996).

http://www.schome.ac.uk/wiki/Te_Whaariki This presents the theoretical origins of the Te Whaariki curriculum in New Zealand.

A. W.

Annie Woods

Subjects: Education.

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