Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

'I am five and I go to school'

Friday, 1 November 2013 4:09pm

Early Years Schooling in New Zealand, 1900–2010

Helen May

i_am_fiveThe book

The twentieth century was a time of great change in early years education. As the century opened, the use of Froebel's kindergarten methods infiltrated more infant classrooms. The emergence of psychology as a discipline, and especially its work on child development, was beginning to influence thinking about how infants learn through play. While there were many teachers who maintained Victorian approaches in their classrooms, some others experimented, were widely read and a few even travelled to the US and Europe and brought new ideas home. As well, there was increasing political support for new approaches to the 'new education' ideas at the turn of the century.

All was not plain sailing, however, and this book charts both the progress made and the obstacles overcome in the course of the century, as the nation battled its way through world wars and depressions. It's an interesting story as the author discusses changes in school buildings, teaching practice and teacher education, the teaching of reading and other curriculum areas, Maori education and the emergence of kohanga reo and the teaching of Maori language in primary schools. Along the way we meet a range of individuals, including C.E. Beeby, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Gwen Somerset, Don Holdaway, Elwyn Richardson, Marie Bell and Marie Clay and the many less well-known but significant people who worked in or influenced early years education. We also meet many well-known New Zealanders who have recounted their first days at school. This is a fascinating account of a rich history that has involved us all. And yes, school milk gets a mention.

The author

HELEN MAY is former Dean of University of Otago College of Education. She began her career as a primary school teacher in the mid-1960s, worked in childcare in the 1970s, and began tertiary teaching in the 1980s. During the early 1990s she worked with Margaret Carr on the development of Te Whariki, New Zealand's first national curriculum for early childhood education. In 1995 she was appointed to the first New Zealand professorial chair in Early Childhood Education at Victoria University Wellington and in 2005 she was appointed Professor of Education at the University of Otago. She has published six books as sole author, on the history and politics of early education.

Publication details

Paperback, 210 x 170 mm, 320 pages, b&w and colour throughout, ISBN 978 1 877372 86 5, $49.95
2011