New ways of learning…

People pay more attention to new ways of learning.  (Hayden, 12)

A hundred learners gathered at the start of the day to listen to a keynote presentation about KOTO, a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.

It was the start of an excellent day of learning at an innovative Social Justice Conference, which included fifteen presentations spread over three sessions, providing a broad selection for participants to choose from. Between sessions there were small breakout groups for sharing and processing.

If this sounds like other conferences you have been to, the difference is that the participants were mostly 11 and 12 years old! The conference was organised to expose students to a range of speakers and workshops to raise awareness of social inequities and the kinds of action taken by individuals and organisations to try to make a difference. The  presenters included  high school students and staff, but mainly members of the local and global and communities. (with long distance presentations via Skype).

Teachers and students alike were excited by the learning opportunities and inspired by the stories they heard. We learned about youth homelessness from Bianca, at the Salvation Army, who was herself on the streets a few years ago. Suneeta from SOLES provoked the students to think about how they would get information if they had no computers, no books and their parents weren’t able to help them. Gabe and his daughter Mary-Margaret from Kids are Heroes inspired the students with stories of action that kids have taken to contribute to improving their world. Among other things, students learned about organisations which ensure fair treatment of workers, about working with indigenous Australians and about the plight of refugees. Click here to see the full program of speakers.

It was rewarding to see our young learners so engaged, taking notes, grappling with issues, asking thoughtful questions and reflecting on their learning.

Student reflections on the conference as a way to learn:

It was interactive and gave us many different views of things. (Elijah)

It was a good way to learn because we listened to inspirational people and stories and didn’t have to do stressing work. (Zac)

We could choose where we wanted to go and pursue what we wanted to learn. (Victoria)

It was a fun and interesting way to learn and you had a choice of what you listened to so you would not be bored. (Alex)

I got a chance to hear other people’s thoughts and deepen my understanding about social inequities. (Bella)

I was inspired and I have deepened my understanding by hearing what inspired others. (Tahni)

It was a good way of learning because we got to meet people we may never have got to meet and to learn in a different way. (Jasmine)

People pay more attention to new ways of learning. (Hayden)

You can read about how the idea was conceived and developed here. 

Click here for further reflections on one of the class blogs. They would love your comments.

4 thoughts on “New ways of learning…

  1. I would imagine the young participants were so much more engaged than they would be in the classroom – their comments certainly attest to it. Thanks for sharing this, Edna; you get involved in some amazing things.


  2. What a fantastic learning experience. I would love to chat with you about how you went about organising it. I’d be interested in trying something similar here next year for our Year 6/7s.


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