Monthly Archives: October 2017

‘The Earth just looked simply beautiful and awesome’: Further Reflections from the Classroom

We have been back in school working with year 10 Welsh Baccalaureate students this week. On Wednesday Steve and Jemma gave a session based around the theme of ‘Observation.’ Jemma created a worksheet for students to work on as the lesson progressed. First students were asked about progress on their Severn Suzuki-inspired speeches. The class will continue to develop their speeches over the coming weeks.

Next, Steve introduced the role of observation in the scientific method. He showed a short video clip of the popular science presenter Prof. Brian Cox:

Students were later asked to define science for themselves:

Continuing with the theme of observation, the class then watched portions of the short film ‘The Overview Effect,’ a documentary about the experiences of Apollo astronauts on first seeing the Earth from above – from space!

The aim was for students to develop an understand the importance of observation in developing resilient responses to change of any kind. The video also helps to put humankind in a much wider context. It allows us to step back for a moment to observe how intimately connected we all are, and how much the planet depends on us, just as we depend of it.

While watching the documentary, students were asked to make note of at least three of the most important quotations from the video. The following is an example of one student’s responses:

The final activity for the session was for students to design their own Memes communicating some of the ideas we have been discussing in class. We had some excellent designs handed in to us, and will put up a separate post displaying them all shortly. For now, here is one particularly evocative example:

Then, on Friday, Steve and Jack returned to do a follow up session looking in more detail at the Paris Climate Agreement and the social, cultural and technological changes that we are going to have to introduce in order to meet its goals. Students were asked to plot out the Paris Agreement graph for themselves using raw figures, and to plot some key Government policy deadlines onto the chart.

Here are a couple of fine examples of students’ graphs:

We used the graph of the Paris Agreement as a stimulus for creating a timeline for change. We hoped to impress on the pupils the rate and degree of change that lies ahead of us. We also wanted to foster an awareness among students of the significance of the agreement, and that by now every country in the World has agreed to work to its targets.

We were overall impressed by the level of critical engagement from the students. They certainly have enquiring minds, and do not take our sessions without a fair pinch of scepticism. This is good for initiating dialogue! Many students have strong opinions about climate change and proposed solutions to the problem – as we discovered last week – and it is our continuing responsibility to address these issues in a constructive manner over the coming weeks.

The students, quite rightly, have a great many questions! One method we are considering putting into practice after half term is to use a Questions Box. If students have any pressing questions arising from our sessions that they want answering or discussing they can write them on a slip of paper and put them in the box. We can then go through the questions and structure our lessons around them in the following weeks.

This is an ongoing process, and we are still learning, but we are making good progress. Stay tuned for more news and updates…

“My name is —. I live in a farmhouse in a small village in Wales…”

This week saw the first official One School One Planet classroom sessions at Llanfyllin High School. We have started working with a class of 29 Year 10 Welsh Baccalaureate students, who are helping us to trial and develop our 12 unit course and learing resources.

On Wednesday, Steve took the first class with the group. He introduced the aims of the One School One Planet project and trialled our Vox Pop project with the students, which we first initiated back in December 2016. The Vox Pop project asks three simple questions:

  1. What does Climate Change mean to you?
  2. What do you know about the Paris Climate Agreement?
  3. If you were in charge, what would you do about Climate Change?

Some of the responses from students are collected below. They are quite revealing!

The responses we gathered on Wednesday serve as very useful baseline survey of students’ views and opinions about climate change and their awareness of strategies for dealing with it.

On Friday, Steve and Jack returned to the class to introduce some project work to begin next week. The project will see each student writing their own 3 minute speech inspired by Severn Suzuki’s 1992 address at the Rio Earth Summit. We plan to record their speeches and edit them together into a short video:

In preparation for starting their speeches we asked the class to put together some ideas for things they might include. We suggested that they write three short paragraphs addressing the following points:

1. Tell us about yourself, your background…
2. What are your concerns?
3. What solutions would you propose?

We were keen to point out that what we were really interested in was their own personal concerns. What they themselves are worried about. Here are some of the ideas they came up with. Again, they are revealing of some very important issues surrounding public opinion about the need for social, cultural and economic change in addressing the eco-crisis.

These are all legitimate concerns and opinions that require positive solutions. We hope that over the course of our 12 units – each covering one of the 12 principles of Permaculture – we will be able to address such concerns with practical and sustainable suggestions.

Finally, one last output from these first two days of classroom work: while they were watching Severn Suzuki’s speech we asked the students to make a note of any particularly poignant imagery or ideas in the address. Some of the clusters of imagery they collected read like little poems. Here are a couple of examples:

Stay tuned for more updates on our project!



Synergies Between Projects

On Friday, Steve Jones and Jack Hunter of the One School One Planet project went on a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth. They were joined by permaculture teacher Lachlan McKenzie, author of the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook . Lachlan and Steve have been working together in preparation for the upcoming Permaculture Convergence at Sabina School in Kamuli, Uganda.

At CAT, we met with geologist and Skeptical Science writer John Mason, Paul Allen, co-ordinator of CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain project, journalist and permaculture teacher Tammi Dalaston, and CAT’s education officer Deirdre Raffan, to discuss the One School One Planet project.

L-R: Lachlan McKenzie, Jack Hunter, John Mason, Paul Allen, Tammi Dallaston. Photo by Steve Jones.

All of the projects mentioned above – Skeptical Science, Zero Carbon Britain and CAT’s educational outreach – share many common aims and objectives with the One School One Planet project. One of the most significant common threads is the importance of mainstream education and a positive vision for the future in tackling the challenges of climate change. We look forward to drawing in these threads through collaboration between projects. This is a very exciting time to be working in this vital field!

On the way back to Llanrhaeadr, we stopped off at the marvelous Cultivate Centre in Newtown to see some of the great educational and community work that has been going on there.