Experimenting Within an Education Community

L. Maurice Alford
Vol 35, Number 1, p.24
Elwyn Richardson’s experimental approach to teaching and learning and Oruaiti was officially sanctioned, but the history of education in Aotearoa/New Zealand shows that teachers have been typically conformist. In this article, I suggest that positivist paradigms from the industrial age continue to shape classroom teaching, partly because of norms of individualism, and partly because neoliberal understandings have become central in the functioning of our schools and society. Teaching is an activity that promotes the ethics of a community or society by promulgating some ideas and marginalising others. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, many of our students struggle with the collective orientation of their community traditions and the societal emphasis on individualism. Modernist beliefs in social progress through technology still permeate education policy. Promoting communitarian understandings requires more open-ended approaches to teaching such as Richardson demonstrated. With digital technologies gaining progressively greater influence in schools, the opportunities for social connectedness have been enhanced alongside an increasing emphasis on individual devices. This article briefly explores interconnections between experimentation, context and community.