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Epsy301 Collective Notes - The Learner in Context

Epsy301 Collective Notes - The Learner in Context

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Published by Blair Smith
Victoria University of Wellington, EPSY301 course notes
Victoria University of Wellington, EPSY301 course notes

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Published by: Blair Smith on Jul 18, 2010
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Focus activity:

• Think about your own early childhood education.
• What role was played by your family, by church, by kindergarten/childcare/playcentre?
• Talk to your parents or other family members about the choices they made
about your early childhood education.

Here’s one blurb [BMS]:

“I started off attending Playcenter at Otangarae, Whangarei. My

parents thought the free style education meshed well with their philos-

ophy. In particular my mother liked the philosophy of parent involve-

ment and education. She would go to Playcenter and study Alex Grey’s

‘big book’ of child development. She fondly remembers the supervisor,

was Noreen Moorehouse. There was also leadership training course, fa-

cilitated by Pam Ringwood, who would become reacquainted with my

mother’s through the Bah´a’´ı Faith. At the Otangarae Playcenter I met

my first best friend, Michael Chan. He and I had similar interests in art,

sport and Kung Fu. Playcenter got me involved in art at an early age,

encouraged by my parents. I painted bright red fire engines, eventually

adopting a style where virtually the entire canvas was just red. My sister

on the other hand ate the play dough.

Module 5—History of ECE & Schooling in NZ


“When I was about 6 to 8 I attended Sunday Bah´a’´ı Children’s

classes, with a tutor Rona Barrell. She was into drama and was also a

speech therapist. She was tremendously good fun, and these classes were

nothing like the horrid religious indoctrination that traditional Christian

Sunday school promulgate. We focused mainly on history and philoso-

phy and the power of virtues such as kindness, justice, love, and service

to humanity. This had a huge impact on my life, although I resisted

identifying myself as a Bah´a’´ı (since I thought it was a bit peacenik-like

and sissy).

“When I was five I attended a kindergarten for a couple of terms

along with my friend Michael. It was a good step into primary school,

with a correct amount of additional structure that Playcenter lacked,

which helped calibrate me for primary school. From childhood onwards

my parents adopted a very liberally guided approach to my education.

They would teach me to value higher abstract things such as the virtues

(the so-called ‘spiritual attributes’ in their minds: such as love, mercy,

compassion, kindness, honesty, and so forth). They would leave decisions

about what I should be interested in entirely free for me to determine.

This had good and bad impacts.

“They were not vigilant enough to ensure that I avoided the trap

of being sucked into competition and studying to pass exams with top

grades. I asked my mother about this, and she revealed that they thought

I was studying because I was intrinsically motivated and mastery-oriented,

which was initially true, but no one, myself included, altered the trajec-

tory I was on towards the black hole of purely studying to achieve good

grades. I slipped down into this black hole due to anxiety and depres-

sion, because I knew inside I should be studying for pleasure, but at the

end of every year the focus always became exams and would overwhelm

me with waves of pressure and a need to achieve and earn recognition.

“I am not sure what changes in my ECE would have steered me

towards a better path, I suspect my parents and ECE centers did ev-

erything correct, initially, to avoid such a trajectory. It was probably

the later school norms that really tipped me towards the event horizon.

Overall though, my ECE was positive and highly beneficial and I am

thankful for New Zealand’s enlightened views in comparison to other


Comments. [BMS:] I have few additional comments, most of what I recalled and

spoke about with my mother is stated adequately above. The Playcenter movement

was the main important influence for em and my parents, and other than my parnets,

Module 5—History of ECE & Schooling in NZ


siblins and friends, there seemed few other influences of great note. I do not recall

any of my ECE teachers other than the people mentioned above.

[EDITOR NOTE: Please add your own reflections about your time line here.]

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