As part of my goal of fostering engagement within my NetNZ Senior Social Studies program I invited Sophie Handford, the former Kāpiti College student who led the New Zealand climate change strikes to join our weekly online meeting on 8 May 2019.

Students were encouraged to plan questions in advance to ask Sophie about her experience facilitating a nationwide social action. I organised this guest meeting for the purpose of inspiring the students as they embark on their research in which they need to describe a social action. 

We discussed many topics with Sophie: how she was compelled to take the lead in organising the strikes, why she feels the strikes are important, what the various responses were, what the logistics of organising the strikes were, what policies the strikes aim to change, and what the result was. Students related Sophie’s action to their own context, asking what they might be able to achieve in terms of a social action in a smaller rural community. 

Overall, the meeting was very engaging for the students, and demonstrated that with vision and initiative, a young person is able to make a significant social impact on a national scale.

Relates to “Openly Networked” on our Teaching Framework: The teacher understands the role of online learning in preparing students for living in a globally connected world, both now and in the future, and uses this understanding in the online environment. There is clear recognition of the possibilities of an openly networked environment where there are few boundaries. Learners have opportunities to learn beyond their initial study groups, connecting with diverse people, ideas and expertise. 

By Darren Sudlow