The group of 47 Go for Gold Grade 11 learners taking part in the Sygnature Skills programme had a busy July working with the Routes to Resilience faculty in sessions designed to consolidate and deepen the foundational knowledge and skills developed in April and June.
The focus of learning in July was to pave the way for learners to identify their personal social action projects by understanding more about their passion, their abilities and the value they can contribute to their own lives and the lives of their communities and society. Finding answers to the questions “what I love to do”, “what I can do well” and “what society values and needs” (ie. what will pay me) was a key goal of these lessons.
Learners were introduced to the key 21st-century skills identified as essential for success in the changing world of work and the opportunities that the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” presents. Understanding more about the “new” circular and sharing economies, sustainable business models, disruptive technologies and eco-centric design to promote sustainable lifestyles and living patterns. Programme design partner and Deputy Director at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (SA), Elspeth Donovan, led a session that provoked new thinking and encouraged much reflection and debate on what the South African economy needs from business and from young people.
Within this context, students were engaged in a skills audit, an exercise designed to help them recognise their own skills and abilities, align these to the 21st-century skills understand the skills they were most proud of and those they were focused on developing. Learners also completed a passion audit and left with reflection questions to prepare them for the following week’s discussion. It was an action-packed session with lots of active discussion, paired reflections and fascinating content on the exciting careers ahead for these learners.
Session 2 kicked off with a high-speed bang as learners had to deliver a ‘speed rap’ on the results of their passion audit with a partner – this involved multiple consecutive sessions of non-stop, auditory self-reflection for 3-minute periods. This exhilarating start to the day helped learners to prepare for how they would link their skills and passions to a specific Sustainable Development Goal that they would use as the basis for their social action projects. Learners spent some time undertaking structured reflection on the community issues they wanted to work on and the SDGs related to them. This process allowed learners to partner with other learners who were passionate about addressing similar issues. This was a powerful process as learners from the full range of 19 high schools represented in the learner cohort actively collaborated across school and community groupings. Once the social action groups were finalised, learners had to draft problem statements and begin to prepare oral presentations on their proposed projects for the following weekend’s session.
The final session of the month created space for the various social action groups to reach a consensus on what specific community-focused projects they would work on, as well as learn invaluable tools for overcoming individual and group resistors. Learners worked through practical approaches to overcoming perceived difficulties and challenges to implementing their social actions and to conclude the month’s sessions, learners were introduced to ‘backcasting’ – an invaluable tool for each group to envision the ideal future for their projects and the steps taken to get there.
Each group now has the exciting challenge of utilising their individual skills and passions to prepare an oral presentation on how they believe they can take meaningful action and implement service projects to deliver on the SDG needs in their communities.
In 2020, together with mentored support, these students will have the opportunity to implement their plans and positively impact their communities, learning more about the community needs, empathy and their strengths. And deepening their self-belief that they are capable of affecting change.
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