The Constitutional Conversation and Treaty Education
Friday 13th December 2013
For immediate release
The Constitutional Conversation and Treaty Education: Young Teachers Desperate For Support, Urges Researcher.
The push in the recently released Constitutional Conversation report for greater civic, citizenship and Treaty of Waitangi education is a welcome recommendation, but highlights the question of teacher preparedness to educate their students on these issues, some of who are desperate for support, claims researcher Hona Black.
“Some teachers feel unprepared, unqualified and unsupported to teach about or reflect the Treaty of Watangi in their classrooms” states Mr Black. “The result is that some teachers choose to ignore it, and inadvertantly continue to nurse misunderstandings about the Treaty and notions of Māori ‘advantage’ and ‘special priviledge’, instead of the role the Treaty can play as a foundation for us all in Aotearoa”.
Mr Black’s masterate research completed earlier this year through Massey University explored the challenges and needs of new/beginning secondary school social science teachers in delivering Treaty of Waitangi and citizenship education in their classrooms. His research revealed gaps in teacher training, a limited pool of resources, next to no professional development undertaken, and a lack of guidance from schools to help teachers deliver Treaty content in their classrooms.
“Investing in Treaty education can ensure that future generations of New Zealanders do not suffer from the fear and misunderstandings that past generations have. Greater Treaty and citizenship education can ensure that we as a nation can embrace cultural distinctiveness whilst maintaining a sense of national unity” stresses Mr Black.
“But we must ensure that those on the front-line of growing the understanding of the next generation of our citizens are well trained, resourced and supported - our new and training social science teachers. Most I spoke to were dedicated and passionate about this type of education, and in particular wanted to connect their students to local histories, but needed the guidance and support to do so”.
The report released by the Constitutional Advisory Panel last week ultimately recommended the development of a Treaty education strategy that addresses the role and status of the Treaty, ensuring all citizens are informed of their obligations and rights.
“Educator support must be a part of this strategy” urges Mr Black. “The recommendations by the panel are a positive step towards ensuring the realisation of a society in which peace, knowledge and understanding is better assured. But we must ensure to put all our weight and support behind those that are actually going to do the mahi/work”.