You’ve got to love the most about Te Ao Whanui is the freedom to learn, it’s pretty amazing, yeah.
Throughout 2010 I had the privilege of teaching a year ten social studies class at Edgecumbe College and decided that I needed to incorporate all of the effective teaching practices that I’d been exposed to over the years. And to operate under the principles of the new curriculum. In order to do this, it meant that I had to bring together a whole lot of the different pedagogical practices and principles that I’d applied over years and that I’d learnt about. Within the social studies context it was very important for these students to be exposed to meaningful learning. And in order to do that we had to place it in meaningful context which was their context, their local context. So the name of the course that I developed was ‘Local participation and global confidence’ because as a small rural school one of the things that the students are not generally exposed to is the wider context for learning. They know a lot about, and are well grounded within their local community but are not necessarily exposed to all of the learning and the opportunities in the wider world.
Te Ao Whanui is a social studies programme that focuses on global participation, it’s pretty amazing and it teaches you a lot of life skills. Over the year we have done a lot of work using computers which has been a new experience as you usually work in a classroom but we spent a whole lot of time in an ICT suite. We’ve also focused on history makers and there’s no blue light there, I personally did it on a lesbian activist so you can do it on whatever you like, whatever you’re passionate about. But the main focus of the year was an inquiry. It’s total autonomous learning, you choose what you would like to and you give back to your local community. I personally did it on elderly and youth. How they integrate together and how we can help each other. And it’s a great way to learn and it gives you great life skills and helps you in all your different classes because you can get down and do your own work, you can make your own decisions, and all that.
One of the important values of the new curriculum is to make sure that students are contributors to society and to be global participants.
Being part of Te Ao Whanui we got to set our own work, and we worked at our own pace. We had to think for ourselves and we had to have the willpower to keep going throughout the year without her help all the time. It was a good challenge because we got persuaded to put more evidence in our research with our inquiries and any learning we had.
It was really great what we did with our project because Miss Sturgess didn’t, well she used guidance with us but she didn’t hover. What we had to do was on the computer we had this log thing we would keep her up to date with what we were doing and all that but we made all the learning and stuff. We went out and we planned what we were going to do.
The idea behind this was that the students would make a real contribution locally and would find out about what was happening globally. And using ICT tools would become a meaningful and real part of global learning. And they did this very effectively, they made real contributions to their local communities using the inquiry learning approach and action learning approach and they were also able to learn a great deal about what is actually happening in real time for people for other students of their own age and older, throughout the world.
The Te Ao Whanui programme last year was lucky enough to get some credits for NCEA level one although we were only year tens. Miss Sturgess believed we were ready for this because we had already showed so much initiative with our own projects. The NCEA standards we did do were all achievement standards and the great thing about them was they focused on what we were doing so we didn’t have to stop what we were working on to start learning about the achievement standards to be able to pass. Over half the class did pass. I was one of the ones who passed with excellence, and many of my classmates passed with merit and achieved. We learnt a lot from it because we are ready for NCEA level one this year and it gives us a boost, too. So just a few more credits to help us on our way.