Going back to your roots with The Mind Lab’s Master of Contemporary Education

(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

Having completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning, Kathryn Franklin is currently studying a Master of Contemporary Education – and putting her passion into practice with a communal garden.

“I’ve spent most of my teaching career learning with The Mind Lab and every time I thought I had it all planned, I ended up doing something completely different,” explained Kathryn.

She had planned to do her Master of Contemporary Education (MCE) around tech: “I was passionate about digital technologies, so I embraced MCE for that reason.”

Although she grew up in rural Ireland, where her parents grew and sold organic vegetables, Kathryn didn’t realise the impact this had on her until she started teaching at Puhinui School in Papatoetoe, Auckland.

“We’ve got a pretty multicultural school; while we do a lot to celebrate the diversity, I wanted to find a connector, something that anchored them to this community.”

This anchor, it turned out, was a communal garden. Teachers selected students who were keen to be involved and would also benefit by developing social skills.

Kathryn’s Masters, however, is not actually about gardening.

“I’m identifying how communal, collaborative, practical work encourages problem-solving skills. Actually, COVID brought problem-solving to the fore! We had to put everything on hold and restart after the first lockdown; so, that meant having to adjust seasonally and change plans – but that’s the point.

Journey of discovery

“The other teachers are amazed at how well the students have worked together. Our little ones are attached at the hip with their older buddies and the older kids developed leadership skills that they have never had an opportunity to demonstrate before.”

The whole process has been an incredible journey of discovery, all based on doing things differently, admits Kathryn.

“I would never have explored the concepts of play-based education and the local curriculum if I hadn’t been doing MCE. I would also never have taken such a bold leap of faith without the support of my colleagues and my Master’s cohort.

“Excuse the pun – I didn’t realise that it would bring me back to my roots.”


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