Guest post by Lisa Worgan, Director of Curriculum Innovation @VicAcademies
“Where are we going? How are we going to get there? And why are we doing this? Because if people don’t care, they won’t try as hard…”
@DavidBreashears, film-maker and climber, Inspiring Leadership conference, Birmingham ICC, 2016
The week of the Inspiring Leadership conference was an interesting moment on reflection in both my role and in life more generally. I spent much time thinking about what drives people to make a difference in the world around them and why this is ever more important in the world we live in today.
My thoughts started with a particularly interesting meeting with a group of children from one of our Trust primary schools. I was probing them around what felt important in their learning and how engaged they were in it. The responses that I got from these children were astonishing. They told me about how much difference they felt they had made in their last term’s Learning Challenge (called ‘Catastrophes) and that they had realised that ‘catastrophe’ wasn’t just about massive world disasters.
They had realised that families in their own school and community were going though catastrophe every day of their lives. That they didn’t have money to feed their families, or means to get clean and washed. And so these children researched and planned how they could help, working alongside the food bank to generate over £500, and using this to purchase a large amount of personal items to help families accessing the food and resource.
These children passionately articulated the difference they had made to their community, to how much they had learnt, but actually the pride they had in what they had achieved.
Children who care about the world are the future of this world. A world where not everyone is kind hearted and wants to make a difference. A world where children, adults and family go through suffering every day.
I continued to reflect on this during the conference whilst listening to author and humanitarian, Zainab Salbi tell her story of growing up in Iraq in a world of oppression and suffering and how she used this experience to motivate her. She knew that she wanted to change the world for women all around who were struggling in difficult circumstances and has spent so much time since planning opportunities for helping them to do this.
But much deeper than this, she has taken the time to understand why this was important for her do this – how her own personal story has helped her go on to clearly help her make a difference.
And then, at the exact same time as I sat listening to the inspiring Zainab, the news of the death of Jo Cox, MP came through over the news feed. A woman who spent her short life being incredibly clear about her ‘why’. Her actions through speeches in Parliament and campaigns in constituencies and her active charity work demonstrated a very clear cause – to allow immigration to have a positive effect on communities. Jo believed in a better world and fought for it every day.
Our children are the future leaders of our world. We can help them be the kind of people who care and want to make a difference. Taking the time to plan for having a clear purpose in learning and helping them know why they are doing something can really change the meaning for children in our classrooms. This is about finding an ‘authentic’ real rather than ‘pretend’ real too – allowing children to really plan an event to bring communities together or to fundraise to buy that piece of rainforest.
Whatever it is, the learning should actually make an impact and not be falsified to feel real but be created to feel like this rather than actually existing in the world.
By creating a curriculum full of these learning experiences, we are helping children make the world a better place and giving them the learning process that shows that they have the power to change the world, but only if they care why and try hard…