The 3rd national Social Sciences conference was held in Christchurch from 27 – 30 September, 2009, with over 200 participants from across New Zealand in attendance. SocCon is held biennially - the first conference was held in Wellington in 2005; the second in Auckland in 2007; and the next will be hosted by Wellington/Manawatu region in 2011, at Te Papa, Wellington.
SocCon is a great opportunity for teachers from across the social sciences, both primary and secondary, to network and engage in professional development and discussion about the learning area as a whole as well as the constituent part/s that each of us is engaged in. There was certainly much of interest and benefit for the Social Studies teachers who attended the 2009 conference, the theme of which was “Connecting Communities: Social Sciences on the local and global stage”.
We were privileged to hear from some compelling keynote speakers from both NZ and the US…
- Rod Oram (journalist, Adjunct Prof, UNITEC) challenged our conceptions of the current economic crisis in his address entitled “Reinventing paradise: global crises… community opportunities”;
- Hana O’Regan (Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology) alerted us to the challenges minority languages face in our global society and the consequences of the loss of indigenous languages worldwide in that thousands of years of cumulative human knowledge is disappearing with them;
- Dr Rose Hipkins (Chief researcher at NZCER) inspired us to create complex and innovative readings of NZC in order to support students to become confident and effective 21st century learners;
- Dr Jock Phillips (General Editor, Te Ara: The Online Encyclopedia of NZ) explored the differing nature of discrimination suffered by various groups immigrating to NZ over time; and
- Syd Golston (President Elect , NCSS, USA) shared with us some of the challenges and opportunities encountered by teachers in the US as they endeavour to remain true to the citizenship goals of SS in the face of a move towards testing and national standards.
A wide range of workshops and papers was presented across the three days catering to all aspects and levels within the social sciences – for more details on these have a look at http://www.soccon09.org.nz/ where you can find details of the conference programme and presentation abstracts.
As part of the Tuesday morning programme, we received an update from the Ministry of Education outlining their achievements in supporting the social sciences learning area over the past two years. A number of achievements were highlighted, including…
- the publication of the ‘Building Conceptual Understandings in the Social Sciences’ booklets (all now available as e-copy on SSOnline);
- the development of Asia Celebrations units (Levels 2,4,5 – available in Asia Knowledge kete on TKI);
- the development of SSOnline website, with an interactive social inquiry planner;
- the publication of the BES (now the basis of all resource development and professional learning);
- teaching and learning guidelines for senior secondary curriculum (now available online); and
- standards alignment (NCEA Level 1/NZC) which is available online for implementation in 2010.
Future priorities identified by the Ministry are a focus on senior secondary qualifications for 2010 and continuing to fine-tune NCEA standards alignment and guidelines for teaching and learning.
As is the custom, the Tuesday afternoon programme held the choice of primary focussed workshop sessions or fieldtrips. Both programmes presented a rich array of choices. From all reports the micro-brewery trip was a highlight for some, while Ferrymead Heritage Park, Project Lyttleton and Ripapa Island were some of the other popular choices. Those with a primary focus engaged in a varied and enriching afternoon programme, with four workshop sessions covering a wide range of topics.
The conference dinner on the Tuesday evening was a most enjoyable social event with a team quiz kicking off the evening – a great way to get to know your dinner companions and inject a social sciences flavour into the evening. Live music and dancing followed dinner, and many stayed till late enjoying the atmosphere.
The conference closed on Wednesday afternoon following an address by the Minister of Education, Hon Anne Tolley, who officially launched the new Social Sciences Online website.
Congratulations and thanks to the wonderful organising committee for SocCon09, led by Jocelyn Papprill and assisted by conference organiser, Eddy van Til (e.events limited), whose hard work resulted in a memorable and successful conference.