Working with Lindisfarne School’s music students is the perfect platform for Charlotte Lush to ignite passion in her learners. “So much of our work in the Arts is about connection and relevance,” she says.
This is the story of how they used the Fluencies to demonstrate what one group of students can do to change the world through their musical craft and to inspire others to do the same.
There’s a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that perfectly sums up Charlotte Lush’s teaching philosophy: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks of work but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Charlotte is Lindisfarne’s Head of Senior School, and her mission is to infuse a passion for lifelong learning in her students every day. Working with the school’s music students is the perfect platform for igniting this passion. “So much of our work in the Arts is about connection and relevance,” she says.
In an ambitious project for the Stage 5 Music final term, Charlotte decided to challenge her learners to use Solution Fluency in answering a powerful question: How can a small group of people help change the world and can everyone do it?
“Conversations in the Arts aren’t about winners or losers,” Charlotte stated. “They are about what we want to say, how we want to say it and why we feel compelled to speak.” As such, she encouraged her learners to take a look at Sir Bob Geldof’s infamous Live Aid project from 1985.
This event is still known as ‘The Day the Music Changed the World’ and is widely regarded as one of the most historically relevant live concerts, second only to 1969’s legendary Woodstock. Thus inspired, Charlotte’s students began their investigations of pressing world issues that called for action.
“When addressing the question of whether a small group of people can change the world,” she instructed, “we first need to establish what it is that needs changing.”
Once they chose a problem that resonated with them, students were to take the initiative in building a solid course of action through research and collaborative brainstorming—much like how Live Aid and similar benefits are engineered. Of course, these are processes that are at the heart of the Essential Fluencies.
The next step was for students to choose a medium for taking action in this problem-solving adventure. Some wanted to write songs about the issue they decided to focus on while others settled on producing original documentaries.
No matter the vehicle they chose to express themselves, the students took the lead and made the learning happen their way. “Student engagement and ownership of their learning are key,” Charlotte asserts.
“Everything has context and relevance which makes it so much easier for students to understand why they are learning in their subject areas.”
All in all, Charlotte couldn’t have been more pleased with her student’s accomplishments. “I would be less than truthful if I didn’t acknowledge that this shift in the teacher as the deliverer of content to that of facilitator has not been a monumental shift,” she recalls. “But the tectonic plates are shifting, and the results are impressive!”
The Fluencies are effective in that they place learning accountability directly into the learner's hands in a way that connects to what is relevant to them. From the beginning, students started taking responsibility for not only their learning but the learning of the wider school community.
- Students are thinking more for themselves and assuming responsibility.
- Lessons are engaging and related to real-life learning where they get to see the consequences of their actions.
- Students are developing a sense of ownership for learning.
- They are working on projects that solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
Charlotte claims that working with Wabisabi has, without a doubt, been the most exciting and useful professional development she has been fortunate to undertake. She was constantly inspired and challenged to think about the bigger picture, keeping context and relevance for the learners as key.
- Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
- Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
- The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to their students’ interests and increase student engagement.
It has been thrilling, Charlotte says, to have enjoyed the opportunity to bring others on board in this journey. To see the students responding to the work of her colleagues gives her much hope for the future.
- Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
- There is a more profound sense of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
- Integrity and curiosity are developing for everyone in unexpected ways.
- Educators are being inspired to both learn and instruct in many different ways to connect to learners.