Many secondary schools are now implementing a “connected curriculum” approach. Kia Aroha College has been leading and using this this approach for over twenty years, and continually developing new aspects to this learning.

Curriculum Integration involves three major aspects:

  1. Integration of Experiences - The ideas that people have about themselves and their world (perceptions, beliefs, values, etc.) are constructed out of their experiences. What we learn from reflecting on our experiences becomes a resource for dealing with problems, issues and other situations, both personal and social, as they arise in the future.

  2. Social Integration - The participation of young adolescents in curriculum planning follows from the democratic concept of participatory, collaborative decision making. The inclusion of personal issues alongside social problems follows from the democratic possibility of integrating self and social interest.

  3. Integration of Knowledge - When we are confronted some problem or puzzling situation in our lives, we take on the problem or situation using whatever knowledge is appropriate or useful without regard for subject-area lines. A growing body of research suggests that such “contextualising” of knowledge does make it more accessible, especially when those contexts are linked to the life experiences of young people.


Many schools integrate areas of learning based around a central idea or theme.  However, this model of Curriculum Integration involves students in the negotiation and decision-making about what topics they want to study.  Our model involves young people in participatory action research, in the study of issues and concerns that impact on their lives, families, and communities – and provides them with the tools to make change in the world.

“Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) teaches young people that conditions of INJUSTICE are produced, not natural: are designed to privilege and oppress; but are ultimately challengeable and thus changeable.” (Revolutionizing Education)