The "New Zealand Fellowship" in New Zealand: It's Activity and Influence in the 1930s and 1940s
This paper describes the operation of the organisation in New Zealand in an effort to reflect the collective philosophy of a group of educational activists, including politicians, government education officials and academics who helped shape the system of education provision, curriculum and pedagogy. Information is derived largely from archival records at the Institute of Education, London. These archives are not a complete record of the workings of the NEF in New Zealand or internationally. However, they provide a broad ranging record and give interesting insights into the thoughts and motivations of educators who were influential in determining New Zealand's education policy in the 1930s and 1940s. The recent decade has seen considerable debate about the nature and likely impact of recent administrative, curricular and assessment reforms in New Zealand schools (Olssen and Morris Matthews, 1997) In this context of rapid change it may be timely to recall an earlier time of strong public interest and debate about changes in primary and secondary education in New Zealand. During the 1930s and 1940s the principles of education which would dominate curriculum and the system of provision for the next 50 years emerged as dominant forces. It was a time when a particular 'egalitarian' philosophy of public education was established. Today some would consider this philosophy to have been thoroughly compromised by recent developments. Others would consider it to have been rightly superseded. However, what consideration of the NEF in the 1930s and 1940s probably best highlights is a time when educational debate and reform was more democratic and genuinely open to a range of viewpoints than has been our recent experience.