Professor Elizabeth Rata

Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit
Speaking at

Dr. Graham McPhail

Senior Lecturer in Music Education

Louise Zame

primary school teacher


What Should We Teach and How Should We Teach?

Professor Elizabeth Rata identifies commonly held beliefs about what we teach (the curriculum) and how we teach (pedagogy). She will describe how these beliefs are changing our education system in fundamental ways and explain why they have the potential to erode the quality of New Zealand education.

Dr Graham McPhail will describe his research into approaches to curriculum design in innovative learning environments  (ILEs). ILEs are the government preferred option for new school buildings and as such new curricular and pedagogical approaches are being demanded of teachers with little or no professional support to make these changes. The impact of such changes on student learning outcomes is as yet unsupported in the literature.​

University of Auckland Masters student and primary school teacher, Louise Zame, describes her experiences in teaching year one children in the new inquiry learning environment. She will explain how these experiences have led to her current research which asks some deep questions about the assumptions behind inquiry learning.


Elizabeth Rata

Professor Elizabeth Rata is Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She was a secondary school English teacher and a member of the Auckland Runanga which campaigned for Kura Kaupapa Māori education in the 1980s. Her current research is in two main areas; first, the connection between knowledge and democracy, and second, how a knowledge rich curriculum can be aligned with the best teaching methods from New Zealand’s progressive tradition.

Graham McPhail

Dr. Graham McPhail was a secondary school music teacher for 21 years and then he worked for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) as the National Moderator for NCEA music. Currently he is Senior Lecturer in Music Education at the Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland. His current research is focused on knowledge in curriculum and pedagogy design.

Louise Zame

Third speaker: Louise Zame is a primary school teacher who has taught for the last 14 years, predominantly at the junior level. She has taught in both single cell classrooms and modern learning environments. An inquiry learning approach has been used across her school for the past 8 years; this has led her to investigate the content knowledge young children aged 5-7 years gain during an inquiry learning unit.