Making a Difference
We ARE capable of taking charge of our learning
This is a guest post from a year 6 student in my class. His contribution to Project Reimaginate was quite incredible, and his drive and work ethic are unmatched in my time as a primary school teacher. I’m happy to be able to share his story here.
I’m a kid who is good at school and enjoys “traditional” learning, but this year we did things differently. We didn’t just turn up, sit down and listen to the teacher, we took charge of our learning. And I have loved school more and I believe I’ve learnt more this year than any other. I learnt many skills from collecting and interpreting data to digging holes and sawing things in half. The work we put into our project is amazing and the play spaces we created are better than I ever imagined they could be.
We created Project Reimaginate because our playground was falling apart and had little risk, especially for older kids. So, our class decided to do something about it. We spent two entire terms planning and designing. We worked through data, wrote arguments, audited playgrounds and much more. This wasn’t like normal school, our learning had a purpose. Our arguments weren’t about whether cats or dogs are better, we were arguing for a reason. What we did involved real money, real spaces and real people.
Before this project, I had no clue about different types of play, about collecting and interpreting data, and I didn’t know anything about plants until I had to identify and cross-reference almost one hundred native plants! But now I do.
Now I can walk into a playground and tell if it’s a good one, I can use research and information to make important decisions, and now I understand the role of native plants in creating sustainable environments. I’ve learned a lot.
The build stage took forever to get to, but once we were there, our play spaces shot up quickly. We only had $1,500 but we still managed to do a lot. We had people doing many jobs in many different places. Students were weeding, concreting, sanding, digging and sawing, wherever you went, there were kids doing jobs. Some of us barely saw the inside of the classroom for four weeks.
Luckily, we had help from parents and some help from kids in other classes, including students with special needs who were drawn to the physical, hands-on work. Together, we didn’t just make a few adjustments, we transformed the yard. And, we managed to get it done by our deadline, which was called “The Day of Play”, where we created prototypes for our spaces.
The “Day Of Play”
By the time The Day Of Play arrived, we were all exhausted, while all the other classes were excited. Our class were really hoping that the kids would enjoy the spaces that we had created for them. For the first hour or two, kids were drawn to active spaces like the Scooter Track and the blind-fold ropes course in The Forest space. But, as the day wore on, they were attracted to quieter, relaxing spaces like the Secret Garden and the fire pit. The event was smooth and had no injuries, no arguments and nobody got bored. Seeing the kids have so much fun made the whole project worthwhile.
Some teachers and adults think that 11, 12 and 13-year-olds can’t be responsible for their own learning. They believe that students should sit inside and do the same work at the same time. I also used to think that too, but now I see it differently. My class has proven that we are capable of taking charge of our learning, being trustworthy and are capable of using real tools responsibly and safely.
I’ve always loved coming to school, but now I also come knowing I have made a difference and made my school a more enjoyable place for others. Knowing how much work I put in, despite the fact that I finished some days shattered, makes me feel super proud.