Is one life more important than another? Is my life more valuable than yours? What sort of support do we need to thrive and grow? These were the questions facing the Year 3 students of teacher Kim Denny at Lindisfarne School.
This is the story of how her students used Solution Fluency to look beyond their own lives and take powerfully creative initiatives to show us all that across the city or the globe, we are all still family.
Learning is personal, and for meaningful and authentic learning to take place, there has to be an emotional connection; it has to have relevance. This idea was foremost on the mind of Kim Denny, a teacher at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, as she considered what kind of a solution-based project would reach her young Year 3 learners.
“I have tried to develop a program that has an emotional impact, to engage students and enable them to compare their lives with the lives of another child,” says Kim.
For meaningful and authentic learning to take place, there has to be an emotional connection.
Her goal was to incorporate the 6Ds of Solution Fluency to take her kids on a journey to help them understand the actual value of human life and to see enough to become inspired to help those less fortunate by giving them opportunities to better their lives.
Kim’s students began by exploring waste disposal and how we can start to use our environment more sustainably. “Students researched areas in the world where rubbish is dumped,” Kim recalls. “They discovered that fifteen million people in the developing world survive by salvaging rubbish.”
The Year 3 learners began to realize how much they take a life of choices and comforts for granted. Now the burning quest for them was about making a difference. The Dream phase of Solution Fluency came into play as they began expressing their feelings about struggles in the developing world through collaborative artwork.
Students begin working on the official "World in Bloom" logo
“Students took ownership using this Fluency to create a list of themes they believed are important for young minds to flourish,” Kim explains. Wisdom, compassion, relationships, and communication were among the many ideas they shared.
Next, they channelled these concepts into imaginative works of creativity with the help of an artist/parent who demonstrated watercolour techniques. It was very engaging, and the best was yet to come for the students on this ambitious learning journey.
After presenting their artwork and an accompanying photo book to Lindisfarne principal Stuart Marquardt, the Year 3s were still dreaming big. “As Solution Fluency progressed during our discussions, students decided we need to help and empower people who do not have the means or money to make an income,” Kim says.
Their idea was to raise funds with their farm shop by selling produce from both their shared garden and from the generous donations of the wider community. Rather fittingly, they called their shop “World Bloom.”
Lindisfarne students proudly display their work
Students opened a KIVA account for lending funds to young entrepreneurs in third world countries using the money they raised from World Bloom. They took the lead in every capacity, from researching packaging and pricing to designing the logo and advertising, and much more.
Kim was more than pleased with how her learners rose to the challenge. “The learning is completely transformed,” she marvels. “Some students have surprised me with their creativity and problem-solving.”
According to Kim, students are thinking more for themselves, and they are assuming responsibility for their futures. Lessons are now so engaging and related to real-life learning, they get to see the consequences of the actions they make.
- 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 agency and ownership for learning using Solution Fluency.
- They are working on projects that solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
As far as witnessing the results of Solution Fluency as a teacher goes, Kim is thrilled. She claims the results of the students’ output have been more creative, and each piece is unique and different. All in all, they have surprised her with their creativity and problem-solving abilities.
- 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.
Ultimately any shift of pedagogy and philosophy will have a lasting effect on the whole-school culture. After working with Wabisabi, this is what's happening at Lindisfarne AGS.
- Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
- There is a deeper 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.