NZI 2019 Staff BRIAR LIPSON 03

Briar Lipson

Adjunct Senior Fellow

Briar specialises in education. Before joining the Initiative she was a Maths teacher and Assistant Principal in London. Briar has worked for International Education consultancy CfBT, and the Westminster think tank Policy Exchange. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh. 

Latest reports:
New Zealand’s Education Delusion: How bad ideas ruined a once world-leading school system (2020)
Research Note: Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it) (2019)
Spoiled by Choice: How NCEA hampers education, and what it needs to succeed  (2018)

Scroll down to read the rest of Briar's work.

Phone: +64 4 499 0790


Recent Work

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Podcast #2: Briar Lipson makes the case against ‘romantic’ education models

In this week’s long-form podcast interview, our chief editor Nathan Smith sat down with research fellow Briar Lipson to discuss why New Zealand’s education standards are slipping and how the progressive or “romantic” notions of schooling gained such tight traction in this country. If you would like to listen to our latest podcasts, please subscribe to The New Zealand Initiative podcast on iTunes, Spotify or The Podcast App. Read more

Briar Lipson
14 February, 2020

Child or teacher-led education - the delusion of doing both

Imagine if a friend believed cake was more nutritious for children than vegetables, and any time you tried to explain otherwise they closed down the discussion saying the two were a false dichotomy: children should just eat both. This is what happens when the overwhelming evidence in favour of teacher-directed, rather than student-oriented learning achieves air-time in New Zealand. Read more

Briar Lipson
NZ Herald
27 January, 2020
education new zealand2

Teach subject knowledge, not activism

Last week, an educational resource unveiled by Ministers Shaw and Hipkins was praised by The Guardian newspaper for putting New Zealand “at the forefront of climate change education worldwide”. ACT MP David Seymour judged differently, describing the same resource as “state-organised bullying”. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights newsletter
24 January, 2020
Classroom student

PISA results: why are we slipping?

Ever since the OECD began testing the educational performance of 15-year olds in the early 2000s, New Zealand has performed progressively worse in all three assessed areas of reading, maths and science. The troubling trajectory was confirmed again with the release of the results of the OECD's 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing round. Read more

Briar Lipson
RadioNZ - The Panel
4 December, 2019

Ignorance is not bliss, even in Bluff

“For a child in Bluff who might be interested in muttonbirds, they are not going to be interested in the fact that there are seven continents in the world." This statement, made by the elected President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, Whetu Cormick, perfectly encapsulates what is wrong with education in New Zealand. Reported in the Herald in response to a question about our national curriculum, Cormick’s example was prompted by our latest research note Ignorance is not bliss. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
22 November, 2019
BL AM Show 19 Nov

Discussing the gaps in Kiwis' general knowledge

On The AM Show, Briar Lipson discusses her new research, Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it), and highlights the serious gaps in Kiwis' knowledge, Briar explains why a knowledge-rich curriculum is so important and says while it is exciting the Government has announced that New Zealand history will be a required subject in schools from 2022, why does it just stop there - what about teaching world history? 


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Briar Lipson
The AM Show
19 November, 2019
Child reading

Discussing ignorance is not bliss

We all assume we've got a handle on basic knowledge, but a new survey has found New Zealanders have some serious gaps when it comes to basic maths, geography and history facts. Briar Lipson spoke to Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand about the finding from her new report, Ignorance is not bliss: why knowledge matters (and why we might not have enough of it). Read more

Briar Lipson
Radio New Zealand
19 November, 2019
BL Q+A 19 Nov

Why knowledge matters

On Q+A, Briar Lipson discusses our survey that tested 1,000 voting-aged New Zealanders on the state of their general knowledge. The (surprising) findings formed the basis for her latest research note, Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it). Read more

Briar Lipson
18 November, 2019

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