Communicating, connecting and collaborating at Innisfail State High School to improve critical thinking

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Communication, connection and collaboration are being enhanced at Innisfail State College, in northern Queensland, through participation in the 2020 Archibull Prize; and along the way the critical thinking skills of the students are improving.

Janet Lane is an agriculture teacher at Innisfail State College and as the school embarks on its Archibull journey Janet is already deriving great joy from their life-size fibreglass cow.

“She is beautiful. She is currently in the school office where she is contributing to the well-being of the office staff and next week she goes on tour, starting at the Elders office, because they have been such wonderful supporters of our agricultural program, and during the holidays she will be at the council chambers. I am really excited about connecting to the community and generating community involvement in the project.” Janet says

Year 9 classes from agriculture and art are focusing on Global Goals 14 and 15 and will collaborate on the Archibull. They have chosen as their Agricultural Area of Investigation “Clean, Healthy, Sustainable Catchments for All”  and will do a deep dive into the effect of pollutants entering waterways and the Great Barrier Reef. 

“Our biggest industries are sugar-cane and bananas, which are both pretty heavy fertiliser use industries; and we are framed by two rivers. We did a two lesson incursion exercise to model the catchments and to show it is not only farmers who are contributing to pollutants. We saw there was organic nitrogen from the rainforest and that hobby farms, fishers and water-skiers all contributed. It was a powerful exercise to give them a big-picture visual and the students were surprised at how much pollutant goes into catchment and how big the catchment actually is.” Janet says

The students have run with this big-picture idea and taken a critical look at their own school yard – seeing how rubbish from the playground can flow to the agricultural plot, potentially affecting their cows, and from there into waterways and onto the reef.

“We’ve been looking at the systematic and behavioural changes we can make. We approached the council who have provided extra wheelie bins for the school and we have workshopped ideas and solutions using inquiry learning.” Janet says

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Students participated in a  full day incursion that bought of art and agriculture students together to looking at behaviour change and people’s atttitude to the environment. 

The council is also supporting the school by providing links to local industry to showcase the range of local careers available and guest speakers, including an agronomist from Elders, have been giving the students practical insights into these careers.

“I’m really enjoying the whole process and the palette of possibilities The Archibull presents. The resources provided are phenomenal and I am looking forward to giving each section of  Sustainability Circle pie pieces and giving a section to each group to study. The Archibull is also building teacher capability; teachers who wouldn’t normally work together are meeting each week and sharing ideas. And I’ve noticed a big difference in the students working in groups – they are starting to be more responsible, allocating tasks to each other and getting their group collaboration together. Most importantly I am seeing these kids develop their critical thinking skills.” Janet says

At Innisfail State College the aim of The Archibull Prize – students taking action on real world problems and working with real world people on issues that matter to them – is being realised and we look forward to following their Archie journey as the year progresses.

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The students are sharing with their Archie journey with parents and friends through their school newsletter

#ArchieAction #SDGs #BtheChange #ChangeMakers #TheoryofChange #SocialNorms #YouthinAction #YouthinAg

Footnote

Picture You in Agriculture’s (PYiA) overarching aim is to support young people to thrive in business and life. We do this by identifying and developing emerging leaders, teaching them how to multiply their impact and providing them with a smorgasbord of opportunities to apply what they learn.

This is achieved through our cornerstone program Young Farming Champions (YFC) and by engaging with the next generation in primary and secondary schools.

The YFC program identifies and nurtures young agricultural professionals and equips them with the skills to:

  • Connect and collaborate with the next generation of consumers and
  • Advocate for, and drive change in, the Australian agricultural sector.

The YFC partner with PYiA  to deliver our primary and secondary school programs that empower young people to design and implement sustainability action projects through the lens of agriculture.

The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas -Design a Bright Future Challenge are connecting learning to:

  • Real world issues
  • Real world people
  • What young people value

Our programs:

In the process we are giving young Australians agency and a voice