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Te Whāriki: Curriculum or philosophy

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Full reference
Jenkin, C. (2017). Te Whāriki: Curriculum or philosophy. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 20(1), 1–16. Retrieved from www.childforum.com/research/nz-international-early-childhood-education-journal-2017.html

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Original Research Paper
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Te Whāriki: Curriculum or philosophy

Chris Jenkin
Auckland University of Technology, NZ

Abstract

Te Whāriki, the New Zealand national early childhood curriculum, has taken early childhood education in Aotearoa onto the world stage.  It has clarified the essence of what we believe is a bicultural country, strengthened the articulation of the depth of thinking that underpins our practice, and opened up opportunities for discussion, exploration, and reflection on practice. However, early childhood teachers continue to struggle to implement content within Te Whāriki. This article is based on a conference presentation in New Zealand which generated interest and animated discussion, and aims to help clarify how Te Whāriki should be interpreted and used. It draws on literature and data to investigate whether the lack of specific content within Te Whāriki means it should be considered a philosophy rather than a curriculum. Data was collected in two ways.  First, Te Tiriti-based (bicultural) aspects of Te Whāriki were analysed in relation to definitions of curriculum and philosophy. The second involved semi-structured interviews with two research participants involved in running early childhood centres.  While arguing that Te Whāriki is predominantly a philosophy, the article considers the implications for the early childhood workforce of viewing Te Whāriki as a curriculum.  It also suggests the possibility that Te Whāriki in fact occupies a third space as a curriculum framework. 

Key words: Te Whāriki; bicultural; curriculum; philosophy; interviews.

 


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