ABSTRACT. This article presents the transcript of the Sixth Annual Peter Fraser Memorial Lecture that was held in Wellington, New Zealand on October 4, 2016. The lecture comprised of five invited speakers broadly drawn from the education, media and union sectors with an interest in the legacy of Prime Minister Peter Fraser to New Zealand’s public education system. Using the documentary of the introduction of arts education in post-war New Zealand entitled The heART of the Matter, the speakers were asked to respond to the democratic ethos of education as a fundamental pillar to the first New Zealand Labour Party agenda of educational reform and its implications for New Zealand education today. Figures such as the American educational philosopher John Dewey and the influential New Zealand Director of Education Clarence Beeby occupy shared space alongside Peter Fraser in the following transcript. While there is a strong sense of the importance of educational and political history there is also a shared stance that laments much of what has been lost in the context of contemporary New Zealand education. The intention of this transcript is to provide the reader a collection of educational excerpts that traverse many fields and perspectives, but which can be gathered to form a clarion call for the reassessment of educational focus and aims in ways that honour and reinvigorate the importance of education to the democratic project in New Zealand and beyond. pp. 25–44

Keywords: Peter Fraser; Clarence Beeby; John Dewey; Labour Party; progressive education; arts education; democracy


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The School of Critical Studies in Education,
University of Auckland
(corresponding author)
Independent Researcher
Independent Researcher
Independent Researcher
Labour MP, Wellington Central, current Minister of Finance
Stratford High School, New Plymouth

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