This isn’t going to be the first blogpost I write spinning out of the amazing #edchatNZ conference, but it’s the one that was first inspired by it.
After the #edchatNZ steering committee, which I was privileged enough to be a member of, had had their dinner on Friday night – literally the first time we had ever sat down together as a team – I turned to Matt Nicoll and said, “You know, I have connections to everyone on the committee.” And, it’s true, I do.
- Matt is my (second) cousin.
- Danielle and Heather have worked with former colleagues of mine.
- Alyx teaches at a school my cousin worked at.
- Mel teaches at a school I went to.
- Sonya is Samoan, and my husband is too.
And as I was relating these connections to Matt, my brain said to me: actually, Philippa, these are pretty tenuous connections. But then it struck me: there is a basic human need to feel connected to others.
And for me, this was the genius of the #edchatNZ conference. It was an opportunity for people who had built connections using Twitter and our little hashtag to meet one another face to face and develop these connections into relationships.
And as I was reflecting on the basic need to feel connected, I thought about this photo that I took:
This is a section of a brainstorm HPSS students taking part in Danielle and Steve’s #apocalyps class where they’re using Science and Social Science perspectives to explore wicked problems. These brainstorms, as I understand it, were the students’ first thoughts, a jumping off place, for the term. They threw all their ideas down on big sheets answering the question: ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ It appears that after this, the students used different colours to find links between these problems. In purple, just above the ‘t’s’ in ‘What’s’, a very clever, insightful student has observed: ‘everything is connected to everything’.
This message was echoed in the workshop I attended (best facilitation ever, Mel Moore!) where we explored breaking down silos in the senior school, and how we might create cross-curricular courses. It took the group I was working with literally thirty seconds to brainstorm a truly integrated course based on the stimulus provided by Pete McGhie of ‘Our backyard’. We had Food, Technology, English, Maths, Science and Te Reo easily incorporated. I knew such a thing was possible, but so quickly? It blew my mind.
And so I wonder: How might we better offer our students to make connections? With each other, with their teachers, between learning areas? It is clear that it is both possible and indeed imperative.