The teaching of ecology: A fresh approach to the teaching of ecology in New Zealand high schools
- Zoology Department, University of Auckland
During 1962 the first fruits of the revision of the American High School biology curriculum reached New Zealand and some teachers began experimenting with the new materials. In 1963 and 1964 the Department of Education called two conferences consisting of university and high school teachers and Education Department inspectors to examine the adequacy of the University Entrance and Scholarship syllabuses, the quality of the English texts traditionally used and the quality of the teaching in high school biology. As a result new syllabuses were drawn up and published by the University Grants Committee (1969), and a proposal that a local textbook and practical manual be written was financed by the Department of Education.
The new syllabuses, as well as being much broader than the old, required that ecological principles should permeate the whole teaching programme. The traditional position of ecology near the end of a course, at a point reached only by an elite minority, was considered unsatisfactory because "the benefits of ecology must come largely through wide popular understanding" (Sears, 1964). Furthermore, the conferences stressed the importance of the spirit of genuine enquiry in the laboratory and field programmes and this attitude was strongly reinforced by the Nuffield Science Revision in Britain.