#edweek2018 – How do primary school students see the future of their school?

Once a year, the New South Wales Department of Education holds ‘Education Week’ in schools across the state. For this year’s Education Week, the theme was “today’s schools creating tomorrow’s future”. The theme for #edweek2018 without doubt carries a very similar message to Young Change Agents, and so it was very exciting for the team to explore ways to celebrate Education Week with the primary school students of Tower St Primary School.

A highlight of this program was the impact game workshop, which requires students to team up in pairs and go through the process of ‘designing the future of the school’, true to the theme of Education Week. The students were given three categories to choose from: a) design a tool that helps students learn better, b) design a tool that helps teachers teach better, and c) design a tool to improve the built environment (both indoors and outdoors).

The impact game takes place over three stages:

  1. Empathy Interview

In the early stages of this workshop, students are encouraged to find a partner and formulate a series of questions about their needs and the kind of product they would find helpful. The overarching purpose of this interview is to help the interviewer empathise with the perspective, needs and experience of the interviewee, in order to create a product that is customised and suitable to cater for their customer’s needs. On a smaller scale, the empathy interview is a great tool for children to connect and challenge their thinking about both what they want and how they can achieve it.

2. Problem Statement + Ideation

During the ideation stage of the impact game, the interviewer develops a problem statement based on their partner’s feedback from the interview. Using the problem statement, they then brainstorm rapid fire prototype ideas as potential solutions to their partner’s problem. The students are encouraged to remember that no idea is too wild, too radical or too creative, which often results in some interesting and outlandish solutions.

3. Final Sketch

In the final stage of this workshop, the interviewer comes up with a ‘radical solution’ based on the feedback from their partner and the prototypes they have designed. This final idea can be either sketched or described.

Asking a child to propose ‘radical solutions’ to a problem guarantees an inevitable degree of absurdity that certainly serves as a refreshing break from the confines of the kind of ideation we often see in the corporate world. Here, in this wild headspace where literally anything is a possibility, technology and magic intersect, fuelled by ideas so imaginative they often verge on ridiculous. Ask for radical, and you will get radical.

Over this series, we will be exploring the student’s repsonses to the impact game activity at Tower St. Primary school. We will discover what some of the common themes are in the way the Australian youth of today view the world of education, look at some real world examples of thinking out of the box in the way only a child can, and enjoy the opportunity to see life through the lens of a young person — filled with wonder, creativity and limitless possibility.