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Year 7-8 Multidisciplinary Learning Project

26 Jun 2017

At Barney, we are continually striving to give children the very best educational experiences and we are dedicated to exploring exciting new ways of teaching and learning. Over the past 12 months or so, we have brought together a dedicated group of teaching staff from across the school – with representatives from the Prep and Senior divisions – who meet twice a term to discuss and plan the curriculum as well as our teaching and learning practices. An important part of this Teaching and Learning Group’s discussions focuses on innovation in education, and in recent months we have been talking at some length about Finland.

Finland’s education system is one of the most successful in the world, with the country regularly sitting near the top of the International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Finland’s successes may well be down to the introduction of multidisciplinary learning in its schools, although I stress that they have not scrapped individual subjects as you may have seen or heard in the media. Certainly, we have no plans to scrap them here at Barney.

However, Finland has redeveloped its national curriculum to include lessons and indeed weeks of cross-curricular, multidisciplinary project-based learning. This is something that excites us as educators and we are taking the step of introducing something similar for our Year 7 and 8 students throughout the last week of this term.

On Saturday, we brought both year groups together in Big School and launched a week of dedicated, self-directed activity based on a central theme. Students were shown a video – filmed in school and starring two of our international boarders – which looks very much like a TV news report of a huge humanitarian disaster (in this case an earthquake) in Haiti. The news item is in French and the students will have to decipher what it is about and the information it contains.

The children have been divided into teams of about 16, each with a mix of boys and girls, houses and years and each team will be charged with the task of producing pieces of work in response to the disaster. The teams will then present their work to the school next Friday. Throughout the week we will be providing the teams with updated information from the disaster, which they can choose to incorporate into their pieces of work. There is deliberately a significant level of autonomy in the way the students direct their learning and decide on the format of the pieces of work that they will produce. There will be the freedom to produce work in different formats: presentations, posters, videos, pieces of artwork, interviews…the list is almost endless. We are all extremely excited to find out what our students produce when given space and freedom to take control of their own project in something that is truly cross-curricular.