Changemakers – What impact do you want to have on the world?
One of the reasons parents and students choose Carey is because we develop the whole child. We focus on traditional literacy and numeracy, while also championing the skills our students will need in the future.
This happens in each learning environment every day and is highlighted by some key learning opportunities throughout a student’s time at the school. You may be familiar with the environment focus at Year 4 Donvale, the garden to kitchen program at Kew and the leadership program for all Year 6 students. There is also C-Change for all Year 9 students and of course all the real-world learning opportunities that are part of Outdoor Education, excursions and incursions. After some trialling and testing, we are pleased to have launched a new learning experience for students in Year 8.
At Carey we believe every student should feel empowered and confident that they have the skills, knowledge and attributes they need to have a positive impact on the world. We aim to create a culture where every student can develop into a wise, independent and motivated learner and we believe this is done by giving the child agency over what and how they are learning. For several years, a feature of Carey’s Middle School has been the combination of core and elective programs. More recently, we have begun to re-imagine the extensive electives on offer to promote collaborative problem-solving for real-world issues. We have been trialling and testing new approaches that focus on building not only content knowledge, but also attributes like collaboration, curiosity and imagination. Our recent iteration of programs has been more about pedagogical change through the development of double electives, project-based learning and modules which provide choice and the opportunity to problem-solve as part of a team.
‘Changemakers’ is a new elective unit delivered in a team-teaching environment, run by Meredith Plaisted and Michael Mules. It is allocated two 100-minute sessions per week, allowing time for all involved to engage in deep thinking, collaboration and developing an understanding of issues that affect the people in our communities. In 2019 this design-thinking subject began with students researching the Royal Commission for Aged Care and participating in a series of empathy tasks such as wearing sunglasses while threading a needle and remembering a list of ten common ‘leaving the house’ activities for elderly people. Students then chose issues to investigate such as loneliness, financial difficulties and poor nutrition in the elderly and presented their findings to the class.
Once the students had acquired a thorough understanding of these issues, they formed groups and developed solutions. Initial concepts were put under the microscope and each group was given constructive feedback during critique sessions. It was back to the drawing board for some while others reviewed and refined products and ideas. The final presentations saw an amazing range of ideas, from the Bill Buzzer (scan the barcode of your invoice and Bill Buzzer will remind you when to pay), the EA Band (so much more than a Fitbit) and the Oddy App (which reduces anxiety by connecting elderly people to each other).
Year 8 student Jess told us she chose the unit because ‘I wanted to try something a bit different and expand my learning. I love that there’s a lot more teamwork and creativity’. Jess’s classmate Zac agreed, saying that he’d ‘suggest picking Changemakers because you choose what you learn and you learn a lot about helping the community.’
It is exciting to anticipate the Pollution Solutions these students will deliver in our next module, once again directly related to current affairs.
Demand for the new Changemakers program was very high during the subject selection process. We will expand the program in 2020 to cater for the interest students have shown. Students have already told us how valuable they have found the experience of working in teams to understand a problem and design a solution. They have highlighted the need to focus on the Carey Positive Learner Attributes to support them with this learning and how to operate in a team. They feel empowered and talk of the courage they now have to approach the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world with confidence and a resolve that they can and will make a difference.