Sunday, 9 September 2018

A Glimpse into the Present

Rototuna Junior High

Wow. Still quite stunned by my experience visiting Rototuna, bit surreal...was a glimpse into the future of learning (but the present...). We were shown around by Terry, an amazing man with a great depth of understanding of the WHY behind what his school does. He lives their beliefs, all his talk was about learning, purpose, audience...never content.

The learning experience those young people were getting was a total contrast of my own experience of secondary learning...and was one of the more 'real' learning spaces I have yet to encounter. It probably took 30 minutes at least for my brain to even register, to cope with what I was seeing:

- First encounter with a class...designing smoothies for students (as they have noticed poor eating habits and want to make a nutritious snack on the run)
- First teacher we speak to...a Digital Technologies teacher taking her class with the PE teacher. They had been using Makey Makey, cardboard and tinfoil to make pressure switches as part of their mashed up PE/Digi Tech learning. The children had noticed a lack of physical exercise, so were creating games for students to engage in (pressure switch on the you do a pressup your nose should touch the floor, hit the switch and the makey makey registers a point. Beep test, netball shooting, jump counting...)
- We walk past some sculptures made of tissue paper and bamboo...I ask Terry what those were, and he explained they were an art installation that had just been taken down. Art, mashed with Science...each piece was about DNA.
- Kids making Ethanol from food waste to solve fossil fuel use
- Making a wearable art piece out of rubbish to show impact on the ocean environment
- Creating giant Jenga to encourage collaborative game playing
- Making a table, etching the glass top with the image of earth, underlaying with rubbish and backlighting with LED's for a coffee table to go in the school foyer...

All learning was social. All had a social/community action. All involved something 'real', making something. All designed for someone else. So authentic, purposeful, engaging...and any other fancy word you want to throw at it.

We asked Terry what skills he wished his Year 7's entered with...expecting to hear things about coding, device use or some such. His response was the highlight for me:

- I wish children wouldn't come up to me and ask "is this was good enough"?
- I wish children didn't ask "what do I have to do next"?
- I wish they came in curious...

That's amazing, that's visionary for us in the Primary sector, and that really shows where learning needs to head. Not attainment, not teacher driven, and not content based...flip it to be student-centred and about progress.

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