Wednesday, May 11, 2011

RSA Video made in a school

I have the honour and privilege of having Adam Robb @adamRobb as a guest blogger on my site.  First watch this amazing video and learn more about Adam below:

I teach high school English and Social in Jasper, Alberta (it's tough, but somebody's gotta do it). I have a real passion for community planning and how the built and natural environment can influence behaviour. I also want youth to become more actively engaged with the decision-making in their communities because I see a need for real change both from a social and environmental perspective. I also know better than to depend on politicians to create this change - I guess it's left up to crazy teachers that don't sleep, but absolutely love what they do (that's me, and I'm guessing that's you too).

Anyway, within the CTS strands (Natural Resource Management and Environmental Stewardship), I designed my own "Sustainability" class this past year - expanding on a youth club I had that dealt with the same issues.

I have 24 grade 11's and 12's in my class. There is no set agenda for the class. We seek community development projects both within Jasper and in other communities to work on. My kids then work alongside planners, architects, engineers, conservation officers, School Boards (bleh), businesses and government agencies on real projects that impact and hopefully help real people. The class is done outside regular school hours and students sign up for whatever projects interest them the most. It's been a huge success, but a ridiculous amount of work on my end - getting everything and everyone organized. Anyway, 24 kids have generated around 200 credits so far this year (not that it's all about credits, but when you want to keep teaching a new course, it sure helps).

Anyway, we just returned from presenting at the Living Future unConference in Vancouver. This is North America's leading 'green' conference for everything to do with the built environment. These are the real leaders in creating better communities, buildings and even interiors. Our kids were given the chance to present during the "15 Minutes of Brilliance" segment of the conference. My kids first performed the song, "Sprawl ii" by Arcade Fire and led a surprise glow-stick flash mob within the 850 green professionals attending the conference (that clip is on the YouTube site as well). They then presented their idea of "Educational Sprawl". Their contention is that the traditional school system leads to the creation of unsustainable, sprawled communities centered around conformity and mass efficiency. What a cool idea.

The presentation was the absolute hit of the conference. Since that day, my kids have been mobbed with attention and feedback from those attending the conference and beyond. So far, they've been invited back to speak at next year's conference in Portland, Oregon, they've also been asked to speak in Edmonton and Las Vegas of all places! Keep in mind the live version was more exciting than the YouTube version that the kids posted, but I think you get the idea.

Our most interesting ongoing project seems to be dealing with the development of our new high school which we're eligible to have built. I'm pushing my way into the whole development and design process to make sure that the kids get to take part in every stage. It's a definite battle. My goal is to have students help create a learning centre that embodies 21st Century education and also our unique environmental context of being in a National Park. If any school needs to be a model for sustainable change, it should be this one - hopefully we could become a model for Alberta and Canada. This is the dream. Alberta Education and its bureaucratic capital projects is the reality. We'll fight though - I feel that we absolutely have to.

Any more questions, contact me anytime,
Adam Robb
Jasper High School
Twitter: @adamrobb

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