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EDUC101 Education and Society

An examination of the political, social and cultural dimensions of contemporary educational practice.

Course overview:
This paper introduces students to the ways in which educationalists study and understand the social, cultural and political contexts of education in New Zealand. It is designed for students studying education and/or planning to become teachers.
The paper is organised around three key questions:

  1. How do we think about children and their learning?
  2. How should New Zealand's education system be organised?
  3. How do we make sure everyone is included?
Each of these questions is explored in a range of contexts through lectures, readings and workshops.

Paper title Education and Society
Paper code EDUC101
Subject Education
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Second Semester, Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $851.85
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,585.00

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EDUT 131, EDTX 131
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students completing the course will be expected to be able to:
  1. Understand and critically evaluate the changing nature of education systems from earlier times to the present;
  2. Explain the significance of education using a variety of competing ideas and models;
  3. Appreciate the importance of educational developments in the past and their application to the present;
  4. Examine the problematic and taken-for-granted aspects of schools and the educative process; and
  5. Develop a critical awareness of the relationship between education, culture and society.
Teaching staff
Paper Co-ordinator: to be confirmed
Other staff:to be confirmed
Undergraduate Co-ordinator (Education Studies): Dr Ruth Gasson,
Paper Structure
  1. How do we think about children and their learning?
    Cultures differ in the kind of human beings they value. Those who hold power in a society decide which human beings matter, which in turn determines how children and young people are regarded, treated and educated. This section of the course shows how assumptions about children and young people have changed over time and affected decisions about how they are educated.
    Big idea: understandings of childhood and children shape approaches to education.
    Topics: Changing understandings of childhood and how these have shaped changes in education during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and in early New Zealand.
  2. How should New Zealand's education system be organised?
    The present education system has been affected significantly by two major education reforms: the 1877 Education Act and the 1989 Education Act. These reforms are discussed from both sides of the political spectrum in terms of welfare-liberal and neo-liberal and perspectives.
    Big idea: ideology influences decisions made about the organisation of an education system.
    Topics: The 1877 Education Act compared with the reforms under Tomorrow's Schools; welfare-liberal and neo-liberal and perspectives.
  3. How do we make sure everyone is included?
    This section continues our earlier focus on how assumptions about children and young people affect decisions about their education, especially, who is included and excluded. Specifically, we consider the connections between education policy and provision and assumptions about children and young people's cultural identities, ability/disability, sexualities, gender and social class. We discuss the risks of deficit thinking in education, consider alternative ways of thinking about children and young people, and imagine what it might look like if we taught for social justice.
    Big idea: thinking critically about presence, participation and achievement for all.
    Topics: the influence of poverty; cultural capital and deficit thinking; education for Māori; ways of thinking about ability/disability within education; boys in education; and inclusion of gay and lesbian students and parents.
You will be encouraged to develop your own informed arguments about these and related debates. We may or may not arrive at ultimate conclusions about such complex issues but hopefully you can understand what is at stake. A critical approach towards understanding educational problems, challenges and debates is encouraged.
The EDUC 101 Course Readings are available via E-reserve, which refers to online reserve material available for download via the library catalogue. This includes journal articles and chapters/sections of books.

You can access the readings either through the live links on Blackboard (click on 'Course Documents' and then on 'Course Outline'), or via the library home page (click on 'Lending' and then on 'Reserve').

Some additional readings that may be useful for your assignments are also available via E-Reserve and Course Reserve. You can access the additional readings on E-Reserve via the library homepage (see above). The Course Reserve material is available in the Robertson Library on Union St (next to the College of Education) and at the Southland Campus Library. If you are unsure about how to access any of these materials you can ask the librarians - they are more than willing to help you!

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 16:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Wednesday 09:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41
T2 Wednesday 15:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41
T3 Thursday 11:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41
T4 Thursday 15:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41
T5 Friday 11:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41

Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system