Inquiry learning in New Zealand: Rhonda’s Eisenhower Fellowship (part deux)

Kia ora!

As you read this, I am embarking on my 17-hour trek to New Zealand for the second half of my Eisenhower Fellowship. I feel very fortunate to have had two weeks at home to process my Finnish leg with colleagues, friends, and family. My promise to myself and the dedicated team of educators at SLLIS is “no new ideas.” We have so much to learn from and share with our international colleagues, but I don’t intend to shake up any of our practices at home just yet. Learning occurs in reflection and I want to give myself ample time to reflect before proposing “new ideas.”

When I began researching PYP in 2005, the first thing that I learned was that the programme’s foundation is in inquiry-based teaching and learning. The second thing that I learned was that New Zealanders, “kiwis,” are naturals at teaching inquiry. During my fellowship I will be focusing on three contexts in New Zealand:
1) teacher preparation and development. How are university programs structured to prepare teachers for inquiry?
2) language immersion standards and politics for Maori medium schools
3) use of National Standards for learning in a highly decentralized school system

I will spend the next three weeks on the North Island and South Island in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Whakatane, and Queenstown meeting with
-scholars: Judy Parr, John McCaffrey, and Stephen May at University of Auckland; Bronwen Cowie at University of Waikato; Professor Wiremu Doherty and Distinguished Professor Hingangaroa Smith at Te Wananga o Awanularangi; and Wainuimata College
-politicians, nonprofits, and Ministry of Education leaders
-government officials: US Counsul Jim Donegan
-and of course visiting schools: Stonefields School, Finlayson Park School, Newtown School , Richmond Road School,

As in Finland, a study of New Zealand would be incomplete without a perspective on local culture. My program includes time to visit traditional Maori villages and geothermal activity Rotorua, the real “Middle-earth” from The Hobbit Trilogy (shhhh, I haven’t read the books or seen the movies yet), and debrief it all over dinner with my local education guides. Great thanks to Bernardine Vester, EF Fellow from Education Plus for arranging my program.

Kia ora! is a Maori greeting used across New Zealand like “Hi!” A more literal translation is “be well, be healthy.”

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