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Early childhood teachers partnering with teacher educators to connect children to taiao (the natural world) through place-based learning

Initial cycles of an action research project brought together local early childhood (ECE) teachers, and tertiary ECE teacher educators, to explore possible uses of the Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre (ŌOLC), adjoining the campus at Hawke’s Bay’s Te Aho a Maui Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), Napier, New Zealand. EIT is situated below Ōtātara Pa, a historic site that holds cultural and historical significance for local Māori, specifically Ngati Pārau Hapū and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi. Education in New Zealand is underpinned by commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi), ensuring that the principles; partnership, participation and protection of kaupapa Māori are supported through bicultural curricula. Māori holistic perspectives strengthen this focus and shifting understanding that place-based learning authenticates environmental approaches to education and cultural knowledge. During the first meeting, participants walked the hillside site and shared group discussions. From these conversations, the teachers identified three main themes: establishing connections between children and the physical place, new opportunities for teacher learning and challenges to implementing spontaneous teaching and learning in this unique environment. Future cycles of the research will focus on workshops for teachers to address these themes for teachers’ working with children in the space.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
New Zealand Tertiary College
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