Planning my thesis – a comparative investigation of education and social equity in New Zealand and Finland

davI haven’t been updating this page over the Spring semester as I have wanted to focus on my studies and life in Oulu. I will write more frequently on here as I adventure into my thesis, the plan of which is mapped out in this very long post with reference to the complex field of comparative and international education research. Please feel free to comment, question, and critique. These are early days and I have much to learn! I hope that you can learn something from this too 🙂

x Min

 

If we study foreign systems of education thoroughly and sympathetically – and sympathy and thoroughness are both necessary for the task – I believe that the result on our minds will be to make us prize, as we have never prized before, the good things which we have at home, and also to make us realise how many things there are in our [own education systems] which need prompt and searching change.”

(Sadler, 1990, cited in Bray, 2014a, p. 40).

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#NoDAPL – understanding the kaupapa from Aotearoa

THE CO-OP

maori-solid-standing-rock Source: Māori in solidarity of Standing Rock and Indian Country (Facebook Group) 

If built, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) will traverse almost 1900 kilometres of whenua to transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois in the US. Initially, the project planners had the pipeline coursing through Bismarck, North Dakota – home to a majority white population. However, following their objections to the risk of poisoning their drinking water the DAPL Company rerouted the pipeline into treaty lands. The pipeline now proposes to criss-cross the source of drinking water and desecrate wāhi tapu of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes at multiple points.

The construction of the pipeline invoked the requirement under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to consult with Indigenous Peoples on the pipeline’s potential impact. In February 2015, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – the body responsible for waterways,  wrote…

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Reading: Finnish culture & education systems 1: The role of significant others in intercultural teacher education

Before I moved to Finland I was worried about what it would be like living in a place with far less ethnic and cultural diversity than New Zealand. Auckland, my home city, is one of the most diverse in the world, with 39% of our population born overseas and 220 different ethnic groups recorded as living there. Being one of only a handful of Pākehā on the packed Dominion Road bus is what feels normal and “home” for me. Finland doesn’t have the same history of immigration, and the majority (93.4% as at 2014) of inhabitants are ethnic Finns. The capital city Helsinki is much more multicultural than Oulu, where I live in the north. I’m happy to say that I need not have worried so much, because the friendship family we are forming in our class of 20 has 19 different nationalities represented. Every class discussion, shared meal and party develops our intercultural awareness and expands our perspectives. It is a privilege and joy to be a part of such a group and to learn so much from each of its members.

One of the readings we have been assigned for our Orientation to the Finnish Culture and Education Systems is Katri Jokikokko’s article on the role of significant others in the intercultural learning of teachers. Katri is a graduate of the Intercultural Teacher Education programme at the University of Oulu, which is a five year master’s degree in primary teaching. (All teachers need to have a master’s research degree in Finland). The ITE programme’s aim is to respond to the challenges posed by multiculturalism in the Finnish education system and provide competences for international tasks in the field of education. I would love to study the ITE course but I already have a teaching qualification, and I think if I’m going to dedicate another five years to study after my MA I should probably just do my PhD!  

The article is interesting because it is compiled from data taken from ten biographical interviews in which Finnish teachers talked about their lives through the lens of intercultural learning. Their reflections often involved other significant people who played an important role in the development of their intercultural awareness and shifting attitudes towards diversity. While I had a range of questions, some of them critical, about the research, it was helpful for me to reflect on my own life’s journey and the role that significant others have played in it.

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Notes: Ethics & Education 4: Fishbowl discussion – Why are ethics important in the teaching profession?

Yesterday we moved all the furniture around to set up for a fishbowl discussion based on the introductory seminars (see earlier Ethics & Education posts for background). We had five chairs like a panel at the front, with the rest of us acting as the audience. The only people who could speak were those on the panel, and if others wanted to contribute to the discussion they have to sit at the front also. The chairs were hot-seats with four people beginning the panel, leaving one chair empty and waiting for another participant from the audience. By the end of the 90 minute session just about everyone in the class had spent some time on the panel, posing questions, answering others, describing experiences and debating points of difference.

The notes I took are a mess, but as you can imagine it was impossible to write down everything that was being discussed, especially when I was in the panel myself! Some key points covered were: whether we need codes of ethics, role of legislation, religion and spirituality as ethical guides, society’s expectations, universality of values, dealing with diversity, conflict between personal and professional ethics, transmission of ethics and the need for transparency.

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Notes: Ethics & Education 3: Why is being an educator an “ethical profession”?

Ed logo 1.jpgIn these seminars we looked at metaphors in common images about the role of education and those who provide it, such as the central place in humanity, torch to guide and enlighten, global connection, literacy, peace and hope, working together etc. ed-logo-2

We also discussed what constitutes a “profession” and compared the teaching profession to others, and the value placed on them.

We explored some fascinating questions about education being value-laden, our extra responsibilities as we’re dealing with children who are always more vulnerable than adults, managing relationships with other partners  involved (such as parents, school admin, Ministry), how we as teachers are models for our students whether we like it or not, what happens when our personal ethics conflict with professional ones, whether the transmission of values (whose values?) is our responsibility and how best to do this, the hidden curriculum…

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Notes: Ethics & Education 2: The role of moral consciousness in identity and the “self”

Unfortunately I was unwell for the first seminar on this topic, but I was able to catch up on some of the ideas discussed in the Zhou and Biesta reading about Confucianism vs the Reflexive Project of the Self in lifelong learning was fascinating. In class we explored the ideas of good vs bad and the development of the moral consciousness, the relationship between professional/legal/personal ethics, action vs inaction, and global ethics.

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Notes: Ethics & Education 1: Intro – teaching is “moral by nature”

The notes I made for this introduction to the Ethics and Education course are brief because we spent some time looking at the course outline, which I’ve included in these notes (it’s so exciting!). Our discussions explored the idea of teaching as being “moral by its nature” and the range of ethical dilemmas and decisions we face daily in our roles. We also looked briefly at the Finnish education union’s ethical principles, which you can read yourself here.

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