I was lucky enough to take some students from my school to our sister school to attend a regional constitutional convention today. The students were focused on examining the question
"Are the disadvantaged being left behind by Australia's social and economic policies?".
It was really powerful to have students invoked in learning outside of their normal environments. Students who are not always active and contributing in class were heavily involved in discussions around politics, economics and social justice. They were presented to by two guest speakers, Dr Jonathan Welch and James Merlino (our local MP) who had differing interpretations of the topic.
What really struck me was how much the students already knew about aspects of this issue, and how they were willing to put their ideas forward and make suggestions as to policy decisions. It was also clear that not many of the students had a clear understanding of what disadvantage was, and this raised valid discussions itself. One of my students said to me after that the day had really opened his eyes to how much goes on in Australia - I was genuinely surprised by this, but happy that it had done so.
Taking the students out of their normal environment was really powerful. Obviously we need to have regular learning environments for students to develop most successfully, but clearly, there is also an important need to occasionally challenge the status quo and do something different. Pushing the students into disequilibrium with a completely novel experience allows the students to experience a different perspective, particularly in terms of how they view themselves.