Imagining the future of home economics in New Zealand.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Education
University of Canterbury
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Dixon, Rachael Anne

Home Economics is one of three subjects situated in the Health and Physical Education learning area in The New Zealand Curriculum (2007). As is the case internationally, Home Economics has a long history in the New Zealand schooling context and the subject has undergone significant shifts alongside changes in society. However the traditional perception of the subject as being about ‘cooking and sewing’ exists for many people. This thesis research aimed to give voice to Home Economics teachers in New Zealand secondary schools about possible future directions for the subject, against the backdrop of challenges for Home Economics documented in international literature in recent years as well as recent and current interest in future-­‐focused teaching and learning. The research employed a multiple case study design with socio-­‐constructionist and transformative research underpinnings. Qualitative interviews captured the views of six participants who were teachers of Home Economics in New Zealand secondary schools, and researcher memos and teachers’ course information were used as additional sources of data. The data was analysed using the three Cs method of coding, categorizing and concepts (Lichtman, 2013). Findings were presented theme-­‐by-­‐theme and three analytical frameworks were applied to the research findings. The research found that the value of Home Economics for learners connected strongly to ideas posited by the international and national literature in relation to skills and dispositions needed for people to thrive in the 21st century. Challenges facing the Home Economics profession were found that focused on perennial problems such as ageing teachers and lack of teacher supply. Also prominent was an overarching theme of ‘perceptions and misconceptions’, which related to the attitudes of other teachers, whānau and the wider community towards Home Economics. Implications of the research for a wide range of people were explored. A number of these focused on the need for advocacy in order to future-­‐proof Home Economics in New Zealand. Areas for future research in the area of Home Economics were also explored, with the need for student voice, data to ascertain future teacher supply and further investigation of the key ideas that comprise Home Economics in New Zealand.

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