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Ben Carpenter
Master of Teaching and Learning

Having completed a double degree in Arts (Māori Studies) and Commerce (Management), Ben Carpenter looked set to move into the world of business.

But, despite several job offers, he realised that wasn't quite the place he saw himself and instead decided to follow in his parents' footsteps and become a primary school teacher.

The Master of Teaching and Learning allows top graduates from any discipline to immerse themselves in primary or secondary teaching for a year and then head off on their new career path.

Ben's direction change wasn't completely unexpected – he was already a qualified speech and drama teacher – and education is obviously in the blood. And he hasn't regretted it at all, despite the intense education he himself is now getting.

The Master's involves immersion in a local primary school throughout the year from nearly the beginning of the programme, and is highly hands on. “We're putting into practice things we learn pretty much straight away.”

“At the moment I'm working with years three and four students. They are really open to learning and fun. Next semester I will change schools and move into the senior school. This is something I am looking forward to.”

Juggling the demands of working in a school, of university study, and, in Ben's case, working with a Dunedin residential therapeutic community for male offenders, Moana House, alongside a social life, is the hardest part of the year, he says.

“But if you dedicate time to things, you can get it done, and the staff (at the College of Education) are awesome and understand how tough it is.”

The Hawkes Bay local, whose iwi are Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tametea and Ngāi Tahu, followed his sisters to Dunedin but was the only one in the family to study Māori language. He expects those skills, along with his management degree, to stand him in good stead in his new career. “I can naturally integrate te reo and tikanga into the classroom.”

When it comes to his next steps, Ben is thinking about looking for a job in rural Hawkes Bay – back home – when he graduates. “I've been away five years now, and I like the small schools there and the way they are whānau-orientated.”

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