COMMENT

The rapid pace at which the world moves accelerates the rate at which careers and technology become redundant. This rapid pace is also changing the face of what future careers would look like. This creates new challenges for students, making it important to develop a wide variety of skills to cope with the demands into the future. So how can our educators future proof students?

Future proofing students means effectively merging conventional and innovative new teaching and learning techniques. While students continue to receive conventional education, they should be exposed to experiences that keep them alert to how the world around them is evolving. Being alert means we are critically evaluating the world around us and being courageous to develop innovative solutions that improve the world. So, how can teachers better allow their students to experience opportunities outside of the classroom while receiving a conventional education?

A subject such as this would allow students who are passionate about an issue or a topic to gain NCEA credits and qualifications which would be visible to future employees.

Albany Senior High School uses a form of project-based learning called Impact Projects. Introducing project based learning into a regular school system is one of the ways allowing students to develop key skills not usually found in a normal education system.

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Every Wednesday, instead of having normal classes, students have the opportunity to work on a project. The topics of these projects can be anything from designing and creating an acoustic tractor beam; organising an art exhibition to advocate for peace; and designing a world class Shakespeare costume which is now on display in London.

A Shakespeare costumed designed by Ariel Moon. Photo / Supplied
A Shakespeare costumed designed by Ariel Moon. Photo / Supplied

All students must also meet three pillars of impact, which are: Interacting with the community; substantial learning outside of the classroom; and producing a quality product. Meeting all these pillars, ensures essential skills are eveloped to prepare students to cope with the evolving world.

A huge amount of learning comes out of these projects. An example of this is a project undertaken by two Year 11 students, Jess Darnley and Emma Archer-Scott entitled "Developing a love for science". This is what they had to say about their project: "The aim of our project is to inspire young children and give them a good experience of science in primary school. We have developed a science learning programme for Albany Primary School."

Throughout the project, these students developed key future-focused skills, such as communication, teaching and collaboration.

Another example of an impact project that greatly facilitated learning is Emily Caldelari-Hume's project entitled: "Raising awareness of the plight of refugees in New Zealand". This project lead the student to communicate and collaborate with projects within the school, but also organisations outside of the school, such as Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ). It also developed key skills such as communication, collaboration, public speaking, social consciousness and leadership skills.

We see these skills as important, so why are there no qualifications for them?

It may be due to "push back" by traditional schools. One solution for this is would be to have it as an optional subject with qualifications available. Not every school does Earth and Space Science or Latin, yet there are still NCEA credits available in those subjects.

Emily Caldelari-Hume leads a workshop at Albany Senior High School. Photo / Supplied
Emily Caldelari-Hume leads a workshop at Albany Senior High School. Photo / Supplied

A similar system could be devised for project-based learning, under a title such as "Innovation", assessed by teachers who can act simultaneously as project mentors, such as occurs at Albany Senior High School. A subject such as this would allow students who are passionate about an issue or a topic to gain NCEA credits and qualifications which would be visible to future employees.

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To see more examples of project-based learning, an Impact Gold evening is being held on Wednesday, September 11, at 5.30pm, at Albany Senior High School (536 Albany Highway).

• Emily Caldelari-Hume and Yeshia Govender are students at Albany Senior High School