Te Whariki and the New Zealand Curriculum The Family and Community of Learning The curriculum Te Whariki is 20 years old and has to date stood the test of time. There have been no reviews non any attempt to make changers to the original document. If Te Whariki was revolutionary when it was written then it is with interest that I looked at the very new and recently introduced New Zealand Curriculum. Would it have the fundamentals that Te Whariki has and would it to hold at its core family and community at its core.
For most of the 25 years of my teaching career I have had the benefit of working with the early childhood curriculum Te Whariki. I consider that I know the document thoroughly and can articulate the principles, goals and strands confidently with the families and interested community members. I am very aware that the families, whanau and the community are a very integral part of Te Whariki in making it a living curriculum. In 2007 the New Zealand Curriculum was introduced into the primary sector as the new curriculum, it took several years to develop this curriculum and the writers had the benefit of seeing how a New Zealand developed curriculum worked in the early childhood sector with the curriculum Te Whariki. I am curious to know if this new curriculum would also have the requirement to have parent and community input to give it the balance and depth that is found in Te Whariki. I wonder if in 20 years time this curriculum would stand up to the riggers and scrutiny that Te Whariki has and would it still be as valued and as relevant as Te Whariki is when it is 20 years old. Te Whariki was developed from a growing need to bring together the many different elements that made up early childhood care and education, which had been developing over many decades and combine them under a common curriculum. The need for childcare starting in the 1800 when woman had to help establish a new country and this lead to the growth of baby farming which had some very unpleasant outcomes for children. As New Zealand moved into the 20th century, two world wars and a depression had a major effect on the need for childcare as mothers needed to return to the work force. “Since the war days many young mothers and wives of serviceman who are invalids or slightly imbalanced in mind, have to attend to business affaires a themselves. Imagine going into an office and dragging two or three young children along” (Women’s Weekly Nov 28 1946) (As seen in course reader EDTL746). With all this history, it is therefore astonishing that it was not until 1991 when the government realised that as it increased its funding to early childhood service it develop an interest in the need for a quality curriculum across all services and settings. The guidelines were developed and the draft document was submitted in 1992 with the new early childhood curriculum taking effect in 1996. Throughout this time and development one of the main components that has always been included is the need to have families and the community totally involved for the benefit of the children that come into any early childhood centre or setting.
Te Whariki, the early childhood curriculum is a document that has had 20 years to deeply embed into the childhood services and settings and supply’s the direction needed to provide quality care and education to the very young children of New Zealand. I have been made aware of just how robust and responsive this curriculum is and I was interested in why this might be. I held discussions with the other teachers within my kindergarten and it became clear that one of the most profound elements that keeps Te Whariki up with the times is the constant requirement by the curriculum its self to have parent and community input. This exchange between children and their environments is the influence of the communities to which children...