Mary Pottinger is on sabbatical from her role as Deputy Principal at Takapuna Grammar School
Over the past 5 years, she has been doing research as part of an EdD which has involved interviewing former students from lower socio-economic backgrounds about their experience attending a high-decile school. Its genesis was the work of Wilkinson and Pickett, and their book The Spirit Level (2009), They wrote about the gap between the rich and poor and suggested that what matters is not we have or do not have, but where we stand in relation to others in our own society
Having worked in a high decile school for over 20 years she had increasingly wondered (and worried) about what it was like for less privileged students in the school’s wealthy community
What emerged is that students from less privileged backgrounds try hard to ensure that their situation remains invisible, while being acutely aware of what the wealthier students have, which ironically, the latter often don't recognise.
She interviewed 5 former students who had come from low socioeconomic backgrounds about their experience living on the Devonport Peninsula and attending TGS. What became evident is that these students needed key people throughout their years at school who knew enough about them to quietly go about helping them
She also interviewed 3 former students from wealthy backgrounds and their experiences helped her understand the work that is needed to gently challenge their perspective so that they become aware of their relative privilege and create a sense of responsibility to make the world a more equitable place
If you would like to attend the meeting as a guest, with or without a view to joining us, you would be most welcome – please introduce yourself when you arrive
We also welcome visitors from other branches of Graduate Women who may be in Auckland at the time of our meeting