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Choice & Change!

July 2, 2012

I’ve always argued that the best Citizenship education starts with CHOICE, and ends with CHANGE!

Give students some choice about what or how they learn, and then help them use this learning to change the world.

Last week we organised a Community Safety Event for all our Year 7 students. In the weeks leading up to the event, they had spent hours investigating safety out in the local community – what were the real problems, and what were the realistic solutions? Each class then chose a couple of students to represent their views. These students made powerful presentations at the event to a panel of ‘power players’ – our Head, a local councillor and our local police officer.

This is similar to an event we organised last year, so I won’t repeat the details. You can download the resources we used from HERE.

It may be worth sharing a few thoughts about running an event like this:

  • don’t be put off by the ‘hurdle’ of taking your students out of school to investigate the community. Our students simply walked around the roads immediately surrounding our school with clipboards taking down notes. It’s easy to manage, and you can do it within a lesson… or even just for homework.
  • leave plenty of time to practice the students’ presentations – we spend at least 3 hours on this, and insist students do not use any notes.
  • get in contact with key local ‘power players’ – local police, councillors, MPs etc, are almost always happy to come in and visit. But remember, they are not there to talk at students, but to listen to them!
  • try to establish what might be possible to change (e.g. installing new street lights, increasing police patrols in a local area etc) before the event – that way students will get a real sense they have had an impact. We failed to do this, and our students had to put up with the panel telling them about their responsibilities to behave well, rather than telling the students what they would do to take on board what our students had said, and work to make our community safer.
Here’s a short video of our students doing their investigations outside school, and some photos from the event.

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