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Underlying concepts

Developing understanding about the underlying concepts of the curriculum statement

The effectiveness of these underlying concepts is dependent upon students using "critical thinking". This term is defined in the glossary as "examining, questioning, evaluating, and challenging taken-for-granted assumptions about issues and practices."

Without referring to the curriculum, write down your own ideas about the terms hauora, health promotion, socio-ecological perspective, and attitudes and values.

Now compare your notes with the information in the curriculum on each of the four underlying concepts: well-being/hauora, health promotion, the socio-ecological perspective, and attitudes and values. These statements signal the approaches that teachers need to use in programmes.

Here is a further definition of spirituality:


I believe my spirituality is being in tune with one's self, with the land and the environment. Being true to yourself inside and outside. A combination of everything that makes you what you are today, history, culture, sexuality, and knowing your ancestry.


Costa Stewart, Aboriginal Consultative Group, Sydney 1997.


  • Students working in the context of "Food for Healthy Lunches" may help to develop some food and nutrition guidelines for food sold in the school. They could be working in health promotion "help to develop supportive policies and practices to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all members of the school community".
  • Running a healthy lunch awareness campaign would be working in the socio-ecological perspective "actively contribute to their own well-being, to that of other people and society, and to the health of the environment that they live in".
  • Working in this way could also be seen as developing the taha tinana or physical well-being dimension of hauora. This next link is an example of how other dimensions of hauora relate to food and nutrition.
  • Through these experiences students will be developing a positive and responsible attitude to their own needs for healthy eating.

Read the descriptions of the strands. This information will assist you to make links between the underlying concepts and the structural framework. It may help you to be aware that strands A and B focus on "self", strand C on "others", and strand D on "society" (SOS).

Your school and the underlying concepts

  • undertake the activity and clarify how the underlying concepts relate to your school community, and answer the questions in the following order: C-B-A-D. (You might like to print out the sheet and make it larger for use at a staff meeting).

The following diagram illustrates how health promotion has implications across the whole school:

School promoting hauora - well-being


Linking the underlying concepts to the structural framework

Use structural framework and achievement aims, as well as the achievement objectives (AOs) at a selected level: level 1 / level 2 / level 3 / level 4 / level 5 / level 6 / level 7 / level 8. Note the developmental nature of the AOs and the way the incremental verbs are the key to the teaching learning process.

  • Note how objective 1 under level 1, strand C (i.e. 1 C 1) asks students to "explore and share ideas about relationships with other people".
  • At level 3 the students "identify and compare ways of establishing relationships and maintaining relationships".
  • The expectation at level 5 is that students will " identify issues associated with relationships and describe options to achieve positive outcomes".

So while the focus of the achievement objective remains the same, the verb signals a task or approach appropriate to the learning level.

Now select one underlying concept.

An example activity to develop familiarity with the curriculum

In this activity teachers:

  1. Write guidelines for working together;
  2. Apply these guidelines as they construct a sequence of folk dance steps;
  3. Perform their constructed dance sequences;
  4. Assess how well they followed their groups guidelines; and
  5. Identify achievement objectives from level 2 that were developed through the activity.

We find from this activity that teachers readily identify AOs from strand B but do not always identify those from strands C and D.

This activity highlights the need:

  • to explain to the students the outcomes expected from their learning;
  • for students to recognise that the skills of working cooperatively in the classroom situation are relevant as they work in other contexts. Teachers need to ensure these opportunities occur, that their students recognise them, and that they are assessed ideally as part of the learning process;
  • to ensure that there is an inclusive and supportive environment in physical education situations;
  • for teachers to recognise how AOs from strand B can be used alongside AOs from other strands to enhance the learning environment.

Participants then use the achievement aims to consider how this learning activity relates to the strands and the foci within the strands. They then identify possible relevant level 2 achievement objectives (AOs).