When we first started looking at action, it was very much around being involved with a charity, raising awareness of the charity and their cause for concern. For example, in a 'Habitats' unit we looked at endangered species and then collected and donated money to give to a relevant charity...and nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it is somewhat removed from deep personal involvement and connection.
As we have grown in our understanding of what action means for our students, we have realised two really important things:
- it needs to be meaningful
- it needs to be sustainable.
Meaningful means that our action has relevance to our student's world in terms of self, our school or our community. It is often difficult to get young children to fully understand large global issues that are far away and that are highly complex and sophisticated, therefore, we seek to make moments of action that can make a difference at the small level first. Hopefully, this really makes the connection: our actions have an impact and that change starts with small actions first.
Sustainable action means developing a relationship with an action so that it continues on and is not a 'one off'. Action is about deep change and to make this happen is like developing a habit- it needs to be repeated frequently. An example of this is how our Year 1 students have developed a relationship with an aged persons' home. Reciprocal visits are made throughout the year and there is much giving on both sides- not money, but stories, gifts and practical activities such as planting. In this way, our children can see that organisations and the people in them, receive the support that they need and our students are engaged in hands on learning.
We very much want our students to understand that action is not just about giving money, it is about becoming personally involved and making a difference to their world. A great example of this is how, in our recent Y6 Exhibition, a group studied the issues around food waste. For their action, they decided to make products, sell them at school and use the money to purchase a composting machine that will turn our school food waste into compost for our gardens- some of which now produce food, which is for sale, the money from which goes back into purchasing more plants which supports our green approach at school.
We consider action to be important because it:
- provides reciprocal benefits
- benefits students academically, socially and emotionally
- gives students opportunity to appreciate the value of contributing to their community
- means that school and education increase in relevance
- utilises unknown strengths during the process.
- provides lots of opportunity for valuable conversations
- offers in depth analysis of values and beliefs can be explored
- allows students to gain an appreciation of the value of lives outside of their own experience.
Next year, we have a curriculum focus on exploring what action means to us as a staff and as a school community. I am always interested in hearing your views on this topic!
|These are some of the wonderful plants our students have nurtured and grown to maturity|