A Teaching Life

Carol White


The life story of Carol White – a passionate educational leader, who championed education for refugees, and a range of cultures in NZ schools. She was the controversial co-principal of a large multicultural Auckland school, Selwyn College.

ISBN: 978-0-9951154-2-2 Categories: , Tags: , , , , ,

About the book

Carol White’s first teaching job was to lay the groundwork for the rest of her career – it was at the liberal and multicultural Wellington Technical College (later Wellington High). She went on to teach at Kawerau and Northcote colleges before landing a job at Selwyn, where she became co-principal with John Kenny. Under their leadership, Selwyn College grew from a mainly middle-class Pākehā school to one that educated students from 57 countries and 80 ethnicities, babies through to octogenarians, with nearly half of them speaking English as a second language and a number of refugees.

Controversy dogged the school, with families, media and politicians blaming the ‘Selwyn way’ for everything from so-called ‘race riots’ to ‘white flight’. But Carol’s approach was also welcomed by many as holistic and humanitarian, and she received an ONZM for services to teaching.

A Teaching Life is a frank and thoughtful memoir that shows how Carol’s teaching philosophy grew out of an unusual childhood and a desire to give her students a safe place to learn and to heal. As the daughter of an often depressed and occasionally violent man, she knew the corroding effect of shame and fear. From her vegetarian theosophist mother, Carol learned the power of the non-traditional approach.

About the author

Born in 1940, Carol White is retired now in Freemans Bay. She looks back on four tumultuous decades of teaching that for her have always been about ngā tāngata, the people.


Dimensions: 128 x 198 mm
Number of pages: 240
Binding: Soft cover

Look inside

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