Kevin Knight

New Zealand Graduate School of Education
Speaking at


The 21st century learning movement: A threat to social justice

Widespread adoption of the 21st century learning movement concepts is dumbing down our schools, and severely impacting the lives and prospects of those who need schools the most. Following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010/2011, the government set about rebuilding, merging and repairing schools to serve the changed population spread. The lower socio-economic status suburbs of eastern Christchurch were most affected. Adopting a radical interpretation of the 21st century learning movement, students in these areas have become the guinea pigs in an experiment for which little or no evidence exists. Wholesale adoption of open plan classrooms, an extreme interpretation of the place of student agency, and a view that authentic learning will always occur collaboratively, have worked together to create dysfunctional settings and weaken educational outcomes. The social justice implications are monstrous.


Kevin Knight, a highly experienced teacher educator, is a founding director of New Zealand Graduate School of Education – the private teachers college based in Christchurch. Kevin entered the education service as a secondary mathematics teacher and taught in secondary schools in New Zealand and Australia. He has been a secondary school principal. Kevin is also an educational psychologist and practised in Gisborne and Christchurch before moving to teacher education. Kevin is in high demand throughout New Zealand and Australia for his expertise in teachers’ professional learning, and is the author of the 8People professional learning model. Kevin has a PhD in Education from Monash University in Melbourne.