Citavi and Me: A love affair

Back in 2014, my laptop was stolen, along with the memory sticks I used as back-up. Given I was in the middle of my PhD at the time, this was quite devasting. I was particularly gutted that I lost all the academic papers I’d downloaded, and the notes I had made on them. The reference management software I had been using was Citavi, and although I could install it again on a new computer, I had lost my entire database.

At the time I was doing an online course through the University of Auckland, to introduce researchers to the use of social media and online tools. So I blogged about my loss, as one of the ‘assignments’. It didn’t help me recover anything, but it did make me feel better.

As a classic example of how anything you put out on the Net can come back to you even years later, in 2018 I was contacted by Citavi with condolences on my loss! Even better, they offered me a new free license so I could upgrade to the newest version which was cloud based. Excitement+ 😊. Not only could I continue to use Citavi for free (my original license was only for the older version), but the cloud-based way of working meant that my database was not located solely on one computer, which can be stolen or broken. I threw myself into learning how to properly use the new version, even how to say the name (Si-taa-vee), and trying to realise more of its potential. Thank you, Citavi, for the opportunity!

This has been part of my recent tech learning around using cloud-based apps and storage. I know there can be issues around security and being able to access data offline. Yet I weigh that against the insecurity of data located on a single device. Most of my data is important to me but not confidential, and I’m sure that marketers know more about me from my use of Facebook than they would ever know from the notes o the papers I read. The outcome is that I’m happily settling into cloud storage as a way of life.

Further, it is opening a new way of working. I know other people have been using document sharing apps for a while now, but it is new to me. And similarly to the idea of using technology in the classroom, this is opening a new way of collaborating online and not simply a new tool for doing things the same way as before (as I have reflected on in a previous blog post). The issue for me is that the groups I work with, where I could be using these new tools and new ways of working, are of mixed technological abilities. To collaborate effectively, every member of the group needs to be able to participate, so technologically speaking, we have to cater to the lowest common denominator (LCD). The potential of the tools, then, are only realised by persuading, educating and supporting the LCD to adopt the new technology.

In other words, in order to effectively use new technology, people skills are required. Not rocket science perhaps? Or maybe, people skills is rocket science…

I am not a Marxist

I gave it a good go, though. Since my political leanings are towards socialism, an international education conference run by radical Marxists seemed like a good idea to see whether this would be my intellectual ‘home’. Although the conference was a relatively good experience, it confirmed for me that no, I was not a Marxist!

The main issue was what I felt was the narrowness of societal critique. Although the emphasis on the harm caused by inequality was something I could relate to, the analysis was almost entirely economic. Agreed that such analysis is a traditional Marxist approach; but I had thought maybe in a modern world, more intersectionality would have crept in. Despite a little bit of race/culture and gender analysis, the intersectionality was predominantly absent. The discourse was centred on fixing the system, and not so much on supporting human rights and addressing people’s attitudes and biases. For me, this is an incomplete picture.

There was new language to learn, too. I found that this conference was run by Revolutionary Marxists, who believe that equality cannot be achieved without radically changing our whole economic situation. Some speakers were very clear “capitalism is the enemy”. Looking back on an old blog post, Apple Brand Activism, I see that Russell Brand encapsulates a revolutionary Marxist viewpoint. He refuses to vote, for example, because that would be participating in (and therefore condoning) a system he disagrees with. In contrast, Michael Apple represents the Reformist Marxists, who advocate for changes within the system. Karl Popper would call this ‘piecemeal social change’, where incremental changes are made and evaluated. Incremental changes are much easier to evaluate, as opposed to radical overhauls. A classic example is the New Zealand switch to neoliberalism – twenty five years later the National government was still telling us that this switch would pay off, if only we give it enough time. Apparently when the economy grows, and everyone, even the poorest people, will benefit from the ‘trickle down’ effect, despite the evidence of the past quarter century.

I think I will stick with incremental change, reformist Marxists, and sociological analyses that incorporate wider diversity and inclusion lenses.

‘What’s the Problem Represented to Be?’ A policy analysis tool designed by Carol Bacchi and some recent applications in the area of early childhood education policy

Ipu Kererū

Dr Suzanne ManningWhitireia NZ / University of Auckland

Many ‘problems’ seem resistant to change, despite a plethora of policy. Carol Bacchi insists that this is because of the way that ‘problems’ are represented in policy. She says that to create real change, the representation of policy ‘problems’ needs to change.  Her policy analysis tool, called “What’s the problem represented to be?” (WPR) provides a guide for examining and disrupting problem representations. This tool could be useful for educational policy researchers yet is relatively unknown in Aotearoa New Zealand. This post introduces the WPR tool and gives some examples of its use in relation to early childhood education policy.

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Emeritus Professor Carol Bacchi, originally from Canada, taught and researched in the area of feminist political theory for many years at the University of Adelaide before retiring in 2009. She has written three books explaining her ‘What’s the…

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Caring Conferences

In Aotearoa NZ, we have become more conscious of the bicultural origins of our country. Recognising this, conferences will now start with a pōwhiri or mihi whakatau (both are forms of welcome). Māori people, however, will often get miffed at the ‘dial a pōwhiri’ attitude that Pākehā people can have. Some of this relates to a difference in ideas of what it means to welcome manuhiri (visitors) with a pōwhiri. For Pākehā, it can be a ritual that is separate from the ‘real business’ of the conference. For Māori, it entails taking responsibility for the manuhiri, and this involves effort and a sharing of oneself – not something taken on lightly. In conferences I have been involved in organising, asking Māori to tautoko (support) the conference can mean a deeper involvement than simply turning up for a pōwhiri. One couple attended the entire conference; another kaumatua (elder) gifted his ceremonial stick as a taonga (treasure) to guide our conference now and in the future. To tautoko the conference in a Māori way is to be present, to be committed, to become part of the community.

I’ve been thinking about this over the last year or two as I attend academic conferences. As an example, a conference I attended last year in England. I have been experimenting with different ‘academic communities’, trying to find a place where I belong, since my research interests bring together policy, history and education. This annual conference was relatively small, many people knew each other and attended regularly, and I thought that I might find a welcoming and stimulating academic community here. Well, yes and no.

The numbers attending this conference varied hugely from day to day. So many people came for only one or two days of this almost-four day conference. Some people literally only came to present, and then they left. The last day was basically postgraduate presentations, and there were very few senior academic present on that day. I toyed with the idea of not going on that day, but I couldn’t get past the idea that I should tautoko these students, it really was my responsibility as a (temporary) member of this community. That did not seem to be the attitude of many others, a phenomenon I have seen repeated at many other conferences too (although this seemed more marked). Why do established academics not see it as their responsibility to tautoko others? As Spencer, Jacob and Leach (2015) say, “we might expect an educational community to be, by its very nature, a ‘caring community’”(p. 158) – and I tend to think of academic communities as also educational ones – was this an example of a caring community?

Further, I have dilemmas over which sessions to attend at a conference, resulting as much from what impact I think my presence will have, as from which topics I am interested in. Should I attend the sessions of people I have had conversations with, to show them that I meant it when I said ‘your topic sounds interesting’? Should I attend the postgraduate student’s session rather than the professor’s session in the next room, just so the student has an audience? Why is it such a problem for me, and not, seemingly, to others? Besides my personal values, I do think it can be attributed to the gendered way I have been socialised; as per Jennifer Nias, who suggests that understandings of care are often explained in terms of social conditioning with socio-historical roots (as cited in Spencer et al., 2015).

The feminine approach to caring is relational, and reciprocal (Delaune, 2017; Noddings, 2003). Perhaps the lack of reciprocity (very few people came to see my presentation) is what gave me a dissatisfied feeling at this conference. Here I was ‘caring’ for others, and where was the return? It shouldn’t matter, maybe, but it does.

I also found myself gravitating towards the other women at the conference, and towards the helpers and support crew. This was my ‘comfort’ zone: commonality in gender, commonality in caring and service. Amongst these people was a sense of commitment, of presence, for the conference. It wasn’t something just to dip in and out of. Matilda Keynes made a comment in a recent blog post that “My first impression was the uniquely congenial atmosphere of the workshop. The participants were exclusively female, emerging and established scholars. Our ways of interacting brought to mind an influential text I read as an undergraduate – Womens Ways of Knowing [1986]“ and goes on to say that the participants had a supportive-critical rather than deficit-critical approach to interacting. Sounds good to me!

Perhaps I might enjoy my conferences more if I stopped caring so much about others and worrying how to make them feel included, and instead looked out more for my own needs. But I doubt it; it is too much part of my values system. I would prefer that other people at conferences would tautoko the conference in a Māori way, and reciprocally care for others in a feminine way. Changing others, though, is not a productive use of my energy. In the future I will strive for a better balance between caring for me and caring for others.

References

Delaune, A. (2017). ‘Investing’ in Early Childhood Education and Care in Aotearoa New Zealand: Noddings’ Ethics of Care and the Politics of Care within the Social Investment Approach to Governance. Global Studies of Childhood, 7(4), 335–345. https://doi.org/10.1177/2043610617747980

Noddings, N. (2003). Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CZ: University of California Press.

Spencer, S., Jacobs, A., & Leach, C. (2015): Alumni voices: The changing experience of higher education. Winchester: Winchester University Press.

Personal metaphors to guide professional practice

A metaphor is a linguistic device to aid the communication and understanding of complex and things such as concepts or practices. Jensen (2006) uses the metaphor of a bridge to describe the work that a metaphor does: linking characteristics of a familiar thing (vehicle term) with something else (topic term), drawing on previous knowledge to aid understanding of the topic term. Knowledge of the specific characteristics being linked is often assumed. When this assumed knowledge is obvious, the metaphor is said to have high salience (Farquhar & Fitzsimons, 2016; Jensen, 2006). However the salient characteristics are culturally and context dependent (Farquhar & Fitzsimons, 2016). For example, Golding et al. (2015, p. 8) discuss metaphors for learning advisors’ practice, in the Association for Tertiary Learning Advisors of Australia and New Zealand (ATLAANZ) journal. One of the metaphors evaluated is that of a learning advisor (topic term) as a Teacher (vehicle term). In what ways is a learning advisor like a teacher? That depends on an understanding of what a teacher is and does. Golding et al. clarify their understanding of a teacher in this metaphor as an expert instructor or ‘sage-on-the-stage’, and discuss the weaknesses of this metaphor in relation to learning advisors. This is only one way of understanding Teacher characteristics, as Golding et al. acknowledge. The metaphor becomes ambiguous if there are differing interpretations of the characteristics that are being compared. The salience of such a metaphor cannot be assumed, especially when used across different cultures.

When a metaphor has high salience, and the people using the metaphor have a common understanding of what characteristics of the vehicle term are being compared to the topic term, then it is said to be an active metaphor (Jensen, 2006). An active metaphor is successful at being a bridge between the two terms. Where the salience is low, and it is unclear or ambiguous which characteristics are being compared, then the metaphor is said to be inactive (Jensen, 2006). Metaphors can be categorised as dead when “the saliency between the topic and vehicle terms are now inaccessible because of a lack of knowledge or experience with the characteristics of the vehicle term” (Jensen, 2006, p. 45). This is often the case with metaphors that relate to the experience of an older generation, but which are completely mysterious to a younger generation.

A fourth category of metaphor is the foundational metaphor, which “defines the centrally important features of the concept being studied” (Jensen, 2006, p. 45). Jensen (2006) gives the example of an organisation as a machine being a foundational metaphor. In the case of Golding et al., it could be said that the foundational metaphor is the learning-advisor-as-an-individual-worker, and all the suggested metaphors name and describe this worker. Such a foundational metaphor limits thinking about a learning advisor’s practice to that of individual professional behaviour, rather than other approaches such as learning advising as a relationship, or learning advising as an expression of values. These other approaches are more characteristic of Pacific and Māori worldviews, whereas the individual worker metaphor fits more within a westernised, Pākehā framework (Huffer, 2006; Johansson-Fua, Ruru, Sanga, Walker, & Ralph, 2012). The deliberate use of a foundational metaphor that steps outside a westernised framework could be a useful tool to encourage different ways of understanding the world and develop a more culturally responsive pedagogy. The metaphor used, however, must still have salience for the learning advisor, or risk being an inactive or dead metaphor because of a lack of previous knowledge and understanding. This was the starting point for my latest paper, submitted to the ATLAANZ journal for publication later in 2019. As part of my research for that paper, I investigated the unique aspects of metaphors used by Pacific peoples.

Pacific metaphors     

Sanga (2014) analysed Pacific metaphors in educational settings. He noted that the metaphors were often visual, and used a concrete object (e.g. a fale/house, a kakala/flower necklance) that could be seen to explain a more abstract concept (wellbeing, the process of research). Further, the metaphors often referred to things that people co-created in context, where process of creation and the context of the creation were both important. Consider the metaphor of the tīvaevae quilt, which is made in the Cook Islands through a collaborative process, with set stages that nevertheless allow for creative variation. Further, the reason for making the tīvaevae and its presentation to the recipient are as important and as much a part of the process as the actual creation (MaUa-Hodges, 2018; Te Ava, Arini, & Rubie-Davies, 2011)

The coconut or niu is an example of a universal metaphor because of its significance to all of the Pacific islands (Albon, 2015). Leautuli’ilagi Sauvao, a tutor at Whitireia NZ, uses the niu as a metaphor for a well-constructed assignment, by linking it with the proverb O le popo e pa’u toe ola (L. Sauvao, pers. comm, 22 August 2018). This is a variant of the proverb listed by Shultz (1949) as “O le pa’u a le popo uli – The falling of a ripe coconut: a ripe coconut that falls off the tree strikes root and grows” (p. 181). In this case, to understand the metaphor fully it is necessary to be acquainted with the particular proverb (both its literal and figurative meanings), be familiar with the vehicle term (the niu/coconut) and its significance to Pacific people, and be aware of the epistemology or production of knowledge that makes the metaphor an active one. This background knowledge can be learnt, but the resonance of the metaphor to one’s own practice would be limited for those people not of Pacific origins. At the same time, making an effort to understand such a metaphor can lead to broadening thinking beyond a Palagi (Pākehā/western) perspective.

References

Albon, G. (2015). Pasifika Leadership Programme: Unpacking a cultural metaphor. Retrieved from http://blog.core-ed.org/blog/2015/11/pasifika-leadership-programme-unpacking-a-cultural-metaphor.html

Farquhar, S., & Fitzsimons, P. (2016). Seeing through the metaphor: The OECD toolbox for early childhood. Semiotica, 2016(212), 97–110. https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0134

Huffer, E. (2006). Regionalism and cultural identity: Putting the Pacific back into the plan. In S. Firth (Ed.), Globalisation and governance in the Pacific Islands (pp. 43–58). ANU E Press.

Jensen, D. (2006). Metaphors as a bridge to understanding educational and social contexts. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 36–54. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690600500104

Johansson-Fua, S.’u., Ruru, D., Sanga, K., Walker, K., & Ralph, E. (2012). Creating mentorship metaphors: Pacific Island perspectives. LEARNing Landscapes, 6(1), 241–259.

MaUa-Hodges, T. (2018). ‘Aere! ‘Aere! ‘Opara ki mua! Teaching Cook Islands Māori to adults in New Zealand: A critical review of literature (Masters of Professional Practice). Whitireia NZ, Porirua.

Shultz, E. (1949). Proverbial sayings of the Samoans. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 58(4), 139–184. Retrieved from http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/document/?wid=2534

Te Ava, A., Arini, & Rubie-Davies, C. (2011). Akarakara akaouanga i te kite pakari o te kuki airani: Culturally responsive pedagogy. Asian-Pacific Education, 23(2), 117–128. Retrieved from http://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE13467539

Women Together – Ngā Rōpū Wāhine o te Motu

Live on NZHistory https://nzhistory.govt.nz/women-together

To mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2018, Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage prepared an online version of Women Together: A History of Women’s Organisations in New Zealand / Ngā Rōpū Wāhine o te Motu, first published for the centenary of women’s suffrage, in 1993.

For the new online edition the original essays have been updated to include new information about the past 25 years. There are also new images and videos, links from relevant biographies and historical events. Entries on significant new organisations will be added throughout 2019.

To find out more go to the home page or read an introduction to the history of women’s organisations in New Zealand.

Follow links below to find organisation histories and theme-based overviews. These include essays on: MāoriPoliticsWelfareReligion;  EmploymentHealthService; Education (early childhood and girls and women); RuralSport; Arts (craft and performance); Immigration; and Lesbian organising.


For my part, I wrote the update for Playcentre Aotearoa, following on from what Naomi Morton wrote in 1993.

 

 

He taonga te tamaiti: Every child a taonga

Strategic plan for early learning 2019-29

This is my personal feedback on He Taonga te Tamaiti. I am a Playcentre-trained early childhood and adult educator with an MEd in early childhood education and care (ECEC), with a recently completed PhD on the impact of ECEC policy on Playcentre over the last three decades. I also work as a learning support advisor in the ITP sector, including support for the ECEC teaching programme. This submission represents my personal views, and not the views of any organisation I am associated with.

Ngā mihi, Suzanne Manning

Goal 1: Raising quality for children

  • Goal 1 quality

    I support most of the initiatives in this section. A holistic approach to raising quality, including a focus on structural features such as ratios, process features such as relationships, as well as a consideration of the physical environment, is welcome.

  • I also support the move to require services wishing to expand to prove they are of sufficient quality. This is particularly important with services that are predominantly profit-driven and answer to shareholders before their families.
  • Gazetting Te Whāriki is reasonable, but I am unsure if it would make any impact. Quality services already work with the whole of Te Whāriki; and do services really attempt to meet the principles and strands, without the rest of the curriculum?
  • My main reservation concerns the 100% qualified teacher strategy. I personally support a more mixed teaching team, for several reasons:
    • I believe that there is benefit in parents being invited to be part of ECEC teaching teams, in any service. It gives parents greater options, develops greater parenting skills within the wider community, and provides more opportunities for services to connect with their community. My recent paper, published as an Online First paper in the NZCER’s Early Childhood Folio journal, is attached and explains this proposal in more detail.
    • I support field-based training methods for preparing ECEC teachers, and the more hours that can be spent learning on-the-job in a centre, under supervision, the better that person will be as a qualified teacher. This also provides for some older people to balance their family and other commitments and their study, in order to become teachers.
    • The NZQA has recently reviewed and implemented new Levels 2-6 ECEC qualifications. How do these fit into the early learning sector if the only people who can be employed in a service are degree-qualified teachers? Some people without sufficient academic backgrounds to gain degrees can still contribute positively to a centre and to improve children’s lives. I would like to see a way that people with these qualifications can be incorporated into the life of a quality service.

Goal 2: Empowering every child

Goal 2 resources

  • Wrap-around services to support children and their whānau are a fundamental sound idea, backed up by research. There a number of similar recommendations throughout He Taonga, and I would hope that policy for such service provision would be developed in an integrated way, rather than siloed within their separate Goals.
  • Appropriate assessment and assessment tools are useful. There is already some good work occurring in developing assessments, so I assume these would be built upon. He Taonga appears to assume that work in assessment would be starting from scratch, and this is not the case. I would also caution that emphasis on assessment should not outweigh its usefulness, or replace the actual work of being with, and supporting, children and their whānau.
  • The review of equity funding should be considered in the light of recommendations in Goal 4 around developing funding systems for different services. In particular, the situation of rural and isolated services, and small services (these often combine), should be considered. At present they get money from equity funding, as well as a small centre top-up. These small centres, many of which are Playcentres, are vulnerable to funding based on child numbers, and yet are necessary if rural families are to have access to ECEC.

Goal 3: Investing in our workforce

Goal 3 workforce

  • Government intervention to encourage consistency of salaries would be welcome, especially as some of the services that need qualified teachers find it hard to pay market rates. A neoliberal model that assumes the market will automatically raise salaries for sought-after skills only works where there is profit to be made. Anecdotally I have heard of the difficulty that some Pacific language nest centres have in finding teachers, because those of their community who train as teachers, incurring a student debt along the way, opt to work for high-paying services instead of a community-based Pacific centre.
  • Ongoing Professional Learning and Development is essential and should be supported in every way, available to all types of services, and expected of all services.
  • Strengthening initial teacher education will need much discussion and debate, especially with regards to what is required. More hours in the field? More context knowledge? More experience in leadership, working in groups, working with whānau? This debate should be robust and thorough, if better results are to be obtained.
  • Returning to my point in Goal 1 above, I believe consideration should be given to where the Levels 2-6 (or even just 4-6) ECEC qualifications fit into the workforce investment strategy.

Goal 4: Planning provision of early learning services

Goal 4 planning

  • I was a part of the project group that developed the report Strengthening community-based early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand, which called for increased government planning of early learning provision. I am therefore fully supportive of the intent of this Goal.
  • When developing a process for determining whether an early learning service is required, or of what type, consideration should be given to making sure that adequate information is made available to the community who will be contributing to the review. For example, there are many people who still do not know about Playcentres or are misinformed about what they offer, which would constrain them from considering a Playcentre to be a viable option in their area.
  • Governance and management support for individual services is essential, and this role is currently filled by umbrella organisations such as Playcentre Aotearoa, NZ Kindergatens, Te Rito Maioha and Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. Independent community-based services should also have access to this type of support. However I would suggest that this could be provided by contracting an existing umbrella organisation, for example Te Rio Maioha, in preference to the government setting up its own system.
  • Early learning services on school grounds provide opportunities for close and beneficial relationships between the services. Any such system, however, needs to be future-proofed to avoid placing services in difficult positions when a government changes, and regulations change. An example of these types of issues are where many Playcentres in the 1970s and 80s were built in school grounds, and they were assured that “buildings and land were ‘vested’ in the respective Playcentre association and would never be interfered with” (in Stover (ed), Good Clean Fun, 1998, p. 133). Yet in 1990 the new Ministry of Education claimed ownership of all the buildings and introduced Property Occupancy Documents (PODs), and later in the decade some Playcentres found their PODs revoked. Changes have been made to the system yet again, but the point is that where buildings and property are concerned, some long-term security through regulation is required.
  • Co-designing funding systems with both Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and Playcentre Aotearoa is a good strategy. It must be remembered, however, that the flax roots nature of these organisations which contribute to their strengths also means that members are not always able to articulate their ideas in concrete policy terms. There were few concrete policies contained in Ngā Huarahi Arataki/Pathways to the Future strategic plan of 2002, for example, partly because no-one appeared able to articulate strategies. Translation of ideas into strategies is the work of policy experts, and not necessarily the general organisational membership.

Goal 5: Innovating and Improving

Goal 5 improving

  • Innovation hubs seem very similar to the State-owned centres with research programmes, suggested in Goal 4. These strategies ought to be investigated together. My preference is to support centres which are already established and proving themselves, as opposed to setting up new State-owned centres. The overall concept is a good one.
  • Encouraging collaboration is a good idea, and on a local level this already happens in some places. A competitive model for early learning is harmful for communities.
  • Consideration should be given to making sure that parent cooperative and home based services are not excluded from these initiatives – intentionally or otherwise. For example, funding release time for teachers to attend research and collaboration meetings is straightforward, but how do you compensate/encourage volunteers in Playcentre? Another example is the Teacher-Led Innovation Fund (TLIF) which is worded so as to exclude Playcentre teams of parents-as-educators, as they are not qualified teachers. This is in contrast to the way the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) is set up, where Playcentres are eligible to apply.

Summary

I support the majority of recommendations in this early learning strategic plan, and congratulate the writers and the government for the focus on equity, access and collaboration, rather than the competitive and economically-focused approaches that have been dominant since the 1990s. It is time for a positive change. The emphasis on ongoing professional development and support innovation is welcome, with a caution that no early learning service should be excluded from accessing these initiatives. My main specific recommendations are to re-consider the 100% qualified teacher policy so as to make room for both/either parents-as-educators and student teachers, and to incorporate the sub-degree (levels 4-6) ECEC qualifications into planning for the sector.