This week, the AFR published an article we have been working on in their BOSS supplement. The piece looks at some of the fundamental challenges to our current model of education given the expectations and desires we have for students coming through the system. We also look at a handful of Australian schools that are exploring different ways to address these challenges.
A group of students aged about eight to 12 are selling their school-made jam at a market stall this week. The trestle table is laden with glass bottles, each covered in a neat fabric circle tied with string.
Earlier in the week, their multi-age classroom may have looked chaotic to the casual observer, with small, animated clusters of students around the room. One group calculates the volume of fruit needed, while others figure out what they will need to charge to be profitable and older students research suitable sterilisation techniques online. At the end of the day, some of the kids are carefully handwriting labels and painting signs while classmates work with their teacher to understand diameter and circumference so they can cut fabric circles the right size.
It has been more than a year since the class started its business – each week students and their teacher agree on what to make and sell. The idea came from a conversation about the lack of school playground equipment for younger kids. They’ve been raising money, visiting nearby schools to research equipment and collaborating with professional designers.
At the stall, the students accept a market-goer’s payment and make change. They notice the customer is carrying a sourdough loaf – perhaps they could sell bread next week. They’ll need to figure out how to bake it first …