Switched on Schools

Being the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhil.

Two schools across the country are showing leadership in environmental ansd sustainable change. Agents of societal change, students from Freemantle Senior High School and Melbourne Girls College are partnering with local community, influencing policy makers and through change leadership, are intrinsically motivated to make a difference. Pedagogical transformation to an otherwise outdated and uninspiring curriculum has led these students to deeper learning and more ambitious expectations about their own future.

In 2012, Freemantle SHS became the first Carbon Neutral High School in Australia by reducing their fossil fuel use, implementing renewable energy projects and capturing carbon emissions through tree planting and using a ‘whole-school’ approach and with the help of community partnerships, Freemantle SCS, cut their carbon emissions by over 15% in the first three years of the Carbon Neutral Project.

Watch their video: Champion, audit, partner, action, repeat 

With the aim of making their school carbon neutral

Melbourne Girls’ College is an award winning sustainable school, proudly partnering with the City of Yarra with the ambition to be Carbon Neutral by 2020. MGC is the 2015 recipient of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, receiving funding to put plans into action and now boasts an interactive PV solar array, pedal and ergo generators, a microhydroturbine and solar powered seal fountain with a strategy to reduce energy use to achieve their goal.

I had the pleasure of visiting Melbourne Girls’ College during a student led sustainability conference late last year. The passion, co-learning and collaborative culture among students from a number of schools involved in the conference was inspiring.

The MGC students also held an action to celebrate their school’s pledge and send a message to decision makers to follow their lead and power all schools and Australia with 100% renewable energy !

Huge congratulations to the MGC environment team, students, staff and parents for leading the way and adopting the pledge !

Victorian schools are encouraged to adopt renewable energy practices with the help of Sustainability Victoria, but so far none have achieved carbon neutral status.

The Victorian Department of Education and Training said two-thirds of schools’ total energy use was consumed outside of school hours. It also estimated that as much as 40 per cent of all energy use in schools is not essential.

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What is most impressive is that both schools have leadership teams that enable student led deep learning.  The students experience the CNP at South Fremantle SHS in all learning areas. It is embedded deeply in the school curriculum, for example in sustainability themes in Science, Marine and Ocean, and Earth and Environment studies. It is embedded in qualifications such as our students’ achievements and hands on experience in conservation through endorsed community programs such as the Rio Tinto Earth Assist Program. It is equally embedded in community service; since 2008 South FreemantleSCS students have propagated and planted over 29,000 trees in the school grounds, in the Wheatbelt and in bush-fire affected Toodyay via our ‘Seed to Tree’ project.

Tree planting in the wheatbelt

Tree planting in the wheatbelt

By involving students in deep learning they become active in caring for our planet’s future, applying their learning in meaningful ways inside the school and outside in the community. South Fremantle SHS is one of only two schools in WA nominated to participate in STELR, a national initiative that encourages students’ participation in Maths and Sciences with a particular focus on renewable energy. Twenty one students attended the 2013 Australian Youth Climate Coalition Event – ‘Start the Switch’ workshops, mentoring and training in sustainability leadership.

It makes me so proud to know that young people are doing great things to make positive change in their schools and communities. These are the global citizens of tomorrow, TODAY.

Working out loud

You’ve got to love what digital connection and social tools can do.

I recently reached out on LinkedIn to broaden my professional learning network and connected with Ciarra Greene at Portland University, Oregon.  I asked Ciarra about global education and her reply set me thinking.  I had an ‘aha’ moment.  She gave me the missing dots to connect so many ideas rushing about in my head. Ciarra mentioned place-based learning and whilst I understood the concept I had not heard that name.

Place-based learning immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of other learning areas across the curriculum.

I immediately thought of My Place by Nadine Wheatley and the wonderful offerings for learners relating to PLACE.  I’ve wandered from my original pathway!

Ciarra is connected to the Nez Perce tribe, who are an Indigenous people of the plateau, living in the Pacific northwest region of the United States.

Indigenous tribes in the USA are in the news right now, battling Trump’s directive to the Army to continue laying the Dakota Access pipeline across sacred sites with the threat of contaminating drinking water.

What if learners in the United States exchanged their understandings of the traditional cultures of indigenous tribes with learners in Australia and their understandings of the traditional cultures of our First People, the Aborigines?  What if the identity and indeed existence of these indigenous tribes was being threatened?  What if environmental issues are being exploited?

I think Ciarra and I are learning just in the same way we want our young learners to learn-through collaboration, communication and deep thinking.  Through technology, our learning has shot past the four walls of the classroom and entered the biggest ‘classroom’ that is our world.

How amazing!

 

Taking climate action: Global Goal 13:

What is Global Goal 13?

“Climate action” sounds like a vague term. But it basically means doing your part to keep the planet clean and healthy. Ok, still not clear?

Channel your inner hippy for a moment… Continue reading

What works for me… and us!

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There are so many exciting experiences happening in classrooms all over the world.  Ordinary teachers doing amazing things with their learners at the heart of each experience-professional learning networks of teachers willing to share in order to strengthen the skills and awareness of their learners.  You’ll find digital and/or global learning examples right here in this posting.    

Colleague, Julie Lindsay, of Flat Connections constructs a learning model whereby all learners have freedom to communicate across borders rather than up or down – with no hierarchy.

On Global Collaboration Day (15th September), experienced global educators and professionals will host connective projects and events. The goals of this whole day event are to demonstrate the power of global connectivity in classrooms, schools and universities around the world, and to introduce others to the tools, resources and projects that are available to educators today. 

Take a look at the active global projects from iEARN. This organisation enables interactive curriculum-based groups to create, research, share opinions and become global citizens.

How can you engage your learners in learning about the world from the world?

 

Aha Hardy

Many months ago I came across a TED talk by Elora Hardy.  I marvelled at her attitude to designing stuctures in bamboo.

Magical houses made of bamboo   Take a look at this inspiring TED TALK
Elora Hardy’s designed her dream house was when she was nine.
She shares the potential of bamboo, as both a sustainable resource and a spark for the imagination.

Elora’s housebuilding a sustainable future

Then months later a friend was inspiring me with talk of our proposed visit to Bali and a visit to Green School.  We checked out a TED talk about this unique school built by John Hardy but still the penny hadn’t dropped.

You know when you have that AHA moment.  Well that happened!!

John is Elora’s father.

 

 

 

 

Wanting our children to achieve global citizenship – do teachers have the skills to teach it?

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Research and experience tell me that parents, government leaders and business want young people to become active and responsible citizens of the world and to obtain jobs where interaction with people in other countries and from other cultures is productive and economically rewarding. Continue reading

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

With all due respect to the dancing dolls in Anaheim, it really isn’t a small world.  It is a complex, multifaceted, diverse, and complicated world. Continue reading

The MDGs-where to now?

MDG momentum
We are in the last year of a fifteen year program, the Millenium Development Goals. In the year 2000, eight goals including the alleviation of poverty, education for all children until year 6 and the eradication of HIV AIDS and malaria were agreed to by 192 member nations of the United Nations.

The latest report examines the progress towards achieving the MDGs. It can only be said that the MDGs have made a profound difference in people’s lives. Global poverty was halved by 2010. It is believed poverty can be eradicated within the next generation. Ninety per cent of children in developing regions now enjoy primary education, and enrolment of girl has increased. Remarkable gains have also been made in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, along with improvements in all health indicators. The likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half over the last two decades. We also met the target of halving the proportion of people who lack access to improved sources of water, although that is not uniform across the globe.

What are the biggest opportunities for philanthropy in education in 2015 to invest for impact to address inequity?


Suzanne
Cridge-Goodwin  Director Bright Spots Schools Connection at Social Ventures Australia

 Philanthropic partnership can be hugely catalytic. What can and will make a difference in education equity both locally and globally? How do we develop strategy in partnership with philanthropy? Where are the best opportunities for maximum impact?

I felt compelled to answer Suzanne immediately… Continue reading

Global Education-what IS it?

from NGV exhibition

from NGV exhibition

 

Global education is a concept with a diverse number of understandings.  Even the term ‘global education’ has different viewing platforms from global learning to global competencies from global citizenship to education for sustainable development. Continue reading