Traditional teaching just isn’t enough anymore

(Last Updated On: June 22, 2016)

Award-winning teacher Gareth Haddon is passionate about progressive learning and believes traditional teaching practices are no longer enough to develop lifelong learners.

Gareth Haddon teaches Geography, Social Sciences and Robotics teacher at Aorere College in Auckland. He recently completed the The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning) and was named NEXT Foundation’s ‘Expert Teacher of the Year 2016’.

“I’ve only been in the teaching game for three years,” he said, “so, to win this award is a fantastic acknowledgement that I’m on the right track and playing an active role in passing on relevant and practical skills to my students that will help shape their future success.”

He says studying through The Mind Lab has helped his teaching profoundly, and now believes that to be the best educator in today’s age, teachers need to be transparent about being lifelong learners, too.

Everyone brings something

“As teachers we often make the mistake of thinking our mind is the one that students should be plugging into and downloading from. But that’s not the case at all. Everybody brings something to the table and in a collaborative classroom, we should really be capitalising on that.”

“Studying allowed me to reflect on the approach that I take in my own classroom and compare that to what our students need to be successful. Reading and writing is no longer enough. Reading, writing, video production, acting, robotics and musical instruments for example, are all critical parts of the learning environment.”


Prepared to embrace change

The course taught Haddon to be agile, prepared to embrace change and allow his students to experience a range of progressive subjects and resources.

“Every element of the course pushes a very powerful message that we need to be forward-thinking in education. It’s all about equipping educators with the tools to be flexible and embrace change with excitement.”

Haddon was one of 164 teachers who graduated from the March 2015 intake in Auckland, Gisborne and Wellington. Frances Valintine, Founder and Chair of The Mind Lab by Unitec says the graduation is an important opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievement of the latest group of teachers to complete the course.

“It’s great to see another cohort of teachers develop their digital and collaborative learning skills through our postgraduate certificate. I want to take this opportunity to thank NEXT Foundation for its on-going commitment to shaping the teachers, students and innovators of the next generation of Kiwis.”

NEXT Foundation provided 800 teacher scholarships in 2015 to allow public primary and secondary teachers to access and undertake The Mind Lab by Unitec’s postgraduate programme in digital and collaborative learning.

‘Where to Next’

The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certificate is a part-time, 32-week programme and aims to redefine professional development for teachers through the offering of a hands-on, progressive and blended qualification.

Already available across 12 New Zealand locations, The Mind Lab’s ‘Where To Next’ campaign is calling on teachers to crowd-source its future locations. Simply go to and vote. When a location reaches 40 votes, The Mind Lab will open a pop-up learning hub providing teachers with access to the programme – the remaining 2016 intakes are in July and November.  

themindlabbyUnitecFor more information visit

Categories: Article, Issue 72