AbstractSeven years ago The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) was launched with its emphasis on key competencies as “the capabilities that young people need for growing, working, and participating in their communities” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 38). This raises the question of what dispositions are required for students to strengthen these capabilities? Curriculum commentators advocate that teachers should monitor how students take risks so that their capabilities are stretched as they perform real tasks in real contexts. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the ongoing conversation on what key competencies can look like in New Zealand classrooms. Specifically, it focuses on learner agency as an important and undertheorised dispositional element of the key competencies. The paper reports on a discourse analysis that explores how students can act agentically in a secondary classroom. By providing a rich example of learners taking risks in their learning as they enact key competencies, this paper reveals that agency can be both dynamic and unexpected.
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