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What the Forum is:

The New Zealand Feuerstein Forum was set up in 2018 to lead New Zealand training and ongoing professional development in the Feuerstein approach to teaching thinking, in a partnership way.

Dr.Dorothy Howie, who along with colleagues carried the very early research and training in the Feuerstein approach in New Zealand, was encouraged in 2018 to take a lead again by the international Feuerstein Institute, and since then has been building a New Zealand-based training and planning group to ensure that training and implementation in New Zealand follows the spirit of the originator of the approach, Professor Reuven Feuerstein. (Contact details for Dr.Howie and members of the training and planning team can be found under the ‘Contact us’ tab.)

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Principles for the Forum:

A series of regional forums in 2018 are planned to share ideas for training and implementation. At the first Forum, in Auckland in February 2018, the following principles for the work of the Forum were discussed:

Best practice with the Feuerstein approach is considered to be:

  • Evidenced-based training and practice, based on New Zealand and international research evidence

  • Inclusive and where possible more whole-school and systemic practice, with training based where possible in schools/Communities of Learning

  • Training which is culturally and educationally embedded in our country

  • Implementation for those who most need it, in line with the spirit of Reuven Feuerstein.​

The wider context:

In 1978 Dr. Dorothy Howie gained a Churchill Travelling Scholarship to study the Feuerstein cognitive intervention methodology at the then Hadassah-Wizo-Canada Research Institute, Jerusalem, Israel. Professor Reuven Feuerstein agreed to her use of the Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment (Standard) programme in New Zealand on a research basis, and she began a series of research projects to look at the value of the programme for more vulnerable learning groups in Auckland. (See research listed under the ‘Research evidence’ tag.) She continued her training in Jerusalem with a New Zealand Royal Society of Scientists travel award.

In 1996 she and a research colleague who carried out his masters thesis research on the value of the Feuerstein programme with students at the then Kelston School for the Deaf, John Thickpenny, set up the Australasian Institute for Learning Enhancement, in Auckland. It acted as an authorised training centre (ATC) for training in the Feuerstein approach, with a team of New Zealand-based authorised trainers.

Professor Reuven Feuerstein was fortuitously in Auckland as a guest speaker at an international conference on thinking at the very time that the Institute and ATC was launched, so he spoke at the launch, and also was a guest visitor at the Marae of one of the team members of the ATC.

In the Herald article which reported his visit to New Zealand he spoke specifically of his interest in Maori learners and the value of the Feuerstein approach for them. (By this time a 4 year project with Maori adolescents and their Maori teachers as partners had been successfully completed by Dr. Howie at the then Nga Tapuwae College.)

Feuerstein training was carried out by the Australasian Institute for Learning Enhancement, with participants from New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, from 1996 to 2005. However, the necessary appointment of Dr. Howie to a UK University in 1997 (lasting until 2010) made development of the Feuerstein work difficult. When John Thickpenny stepped back from his management role with the Australasian Institute for Learning Enhancement, Dr. Howie concentrated her time available when in Auckland to trying to find a base for the Institute at a university.

In late 2011 Dr. Howie returned full time to New Zealand and began building the work of the Institute. Several Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment workshops were run, with both herself and Hassida Eliahu as trainers, one with mainly educational psychologists working with learners of Aboriginal backgrounds in Perth, and one in Auckland. Time was spent also in seeding small research projects on the inclusive and whole school teaching of thinking, including the Feuerstein approach, with a small grant from the New Zealand Commission on UNESCO.

In 2014 Anne Gaze brought the new leader of the international Feuerstein Institute, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, to New Zealand, under the auspices of the philanthropic Gaze Foundation. She carried out from 2014 to early 2017 a considerable number of Feuerstein training workshops, training a large number of both parents and professionals in a wide range of the Feuerstein tools, and using mainly international trainers. She stepped back from training in 2017.


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