Photo Credit: ACMI
I recently returned from a two-week trip to Australia and New Zealand. It was an incredible learning experience for me to get a chance to meet educators, visit schools, and connect with Education Ministries in both countries. The work of Minecraft: Education Edition affords me these unique opportunities to see education in other countries from may vantage points. It is difficult to fully capture all that I learned in a single post but here are some of my reflections. These are views and observation of a one person during one visit but they may help you reader learn a bit about both of these places.
To start, Australia’s population is smaller than New Delhi’s, 23 Million people compared to 25 Million people. The edges of Australia are heavily populated, but middle of the country is mostly uninhabited. Because the population is smaller, there seem to be more of a value placed on the quality of services provided to citizens for example – education, infrastructure, and social services. Just walking around Melbourne, I saw how much investment there was from state and national government for arts, social services, and investment in infrastructure. For example, I saw adult learning center filled with people who were gaining new skills or further developing existing ones. There were large and beautiful building devoted to arts activities, in fact, there is even a bigger push for fiscal investments being made to the creative industries in Melbourne. Coming back to Education, just like anywhere else, Australian educators are passionate, thoughtful, and committed to evolving their practice to meet the needs of their students. There seemed to more of a trust and respect for the teaching professional than what I am used to experiencing in the States. I was able to connect with educators in the #MinecraftEdu Community via a meetup and Keynote the Melbourne Games Week’s Education Summit. Overall, it was an amazing way to get to know a new city.
Then off I went to Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand. I fell in love with New Zealand’s welcoming people, their rich and ancient traditions from Maori heritage, and vast and beautiful natural vistas.
New Zealand has it’s own complicated history and I still need to learn more and read more but the Maori people’s struggle for recognition, for equality when it comes to health, education, and employment mirrors the struggle of African-American people here in the States. To see what I mean, take a look this and this as a resource. In recent years, the Maori language has been given equal importance and there is a push in school and with adults to learn the language and use it regularly in commerce and education. Meetings in New Zealand also begin with paying respects to elders and ancestors who lived on the lands on which we are now working and living – I tried to imagine what it would be like in the States for us to pay homage to ancestors who worked, bled, and toiled to make our country what it is today. To truly know and pay respect to the contributions people who came before us made.
I am so grateful to my whole team who gives me time and space to do this sort of work and supports me in learning about cultures, peoples, and education systems so that I can do my work in even more intentional and respectful ways.