Enabling students to realise their power through designing values-led futures
OCT 2019 -
Various, including: John Fisher School; Darrick Wood; Bayswater College
From systemic racism to climate change, globally we are experiencing many interconnected challenges. Amongst these is an education system that is not fit for purpose. Its one-size-fits-all approach means that students gain in unequal measures and inter/intra-personal skills such as critical thinking, reflection, imagination, and collaboration are often neglected. Above all, worries and concerns remain largely undiscussed.
Take climate change for example, where 75% of teachers feel ill-equipped to talk to their students about it (Oxfam & UKSCN). This has led to a culture of fear or nihilism, a rise in mental health issues such as anxiety, and a paralysing inability to take action within their own lives. Essentially, students feel powerless.
We understand that thinking about futures can be anxiety-inducing. We also acknowledge that the reasons behind much of this anxiety are grounded in reality rather than irrational projections. Yet fundamentally, we understand that futures-thinking can be liberating, empowering, and resilience building, if explored in a conscious, open, and collaborative manner.
We are all storytellers in the human narrative, no matter whether we are passive or active in our actions. Our goal was to enable students to understand their own power, through exploring futures with intentionality. We provided an open, safe space for KS3+ students across Greater London to critically discuss the issues that mattered most to them; from knife crime and homelessness, to racism and climate change.
The workshops followed a format of VALUES | VISION | ACTION. The benefits of exploring these issues through a values-lens were two-fold; 1) students were able to understand the interconnected nature of these issues through their shared values, and therefore the potential manifestations of prioritising certain values; 2) students gained a framework that enabled them to consciously design alternate futures with their chosen values at the heart. Students worked in teams and left with meaningful, actionable initiatives that could contribute to the change they want to see in the world.
“Will and Amy offered an outstanding session for each year group which encouraged both deep thinking and teamwork, raised awareness of some key issues in society and allowed our students to experience something completely different to the daily norm.”
- Mr. A Dean, Assistant Headteacher, The John Fisher School
"The session was really fun and had the opportunity to really think about how I would solve a really difficult issue. I liked working with others as I gained different viewpoints and ideas on how best to approach different situations."
- Joe, 13, The John Fisher School
“Thank you for coming here! It was such a special afternoon to me because I could realise that I have enough power in my hands to actually do something to help us get closer to the world I saw when I closed my eyes in that room. I’m really looking forward to joining a volunteer group once I’m back in Brazil. I also expect to be more proactive when it comes to neighbourhood issues. Thank you for providing us with such a mind-opening experience”
- Sandy, 20, Bayswater College
ACTIVE STORYTELLING //