We Can Make A Difference: The Power of the People


By Rose Langridge – Humanities & English teacher

Maria Montessori said that “it is now absolutely imperative to give serious thought to the human side of things in order to help men themselves change for the better. This is the task of education.” Montessori M (1949, preface, xii) Education and Peace. This is just as relevant now.

We live in a world filled with wicked problems. These are problems that are difficult to solve because they involve masses of contradictory evidence, diverse groups of people have a large economic burden and are interconnected with other complex problems. We as humans created these problems so we must learn to adapt. This is big and important work and it can seem overwhelming.

With that being said, Senior Social Studies at level three actively encourages ākonga to engage with wicked problems. The class this year chose to tackle one the biggest: healthcare. They did a lot of research as a group and decided that they would focus on two key issues: stigma and access to care regarding mental health. They decided to run a mental health awareness week, take part in the nationwide Gumboot day campaign (run by Mike King which is to raise money for adolescents to have access to counsellors) and petition the government to improve access to onsite school counsellors.

They organised a week-long Tāwari campaign to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and did a series of events: Monday saw the glass walls of the classroom chalked with inspirational messages; Tuesday the class generated an appreciation wall; On Wednesday anonymous gratitude cards did the rounds; Thursday saw a game of capture the flag run acknowledging the link between physical and mental health; Friday was linked to the national Gumboot day campaign.

Finally, they wrote letters to people who have a direct impact on access to counsellors and generated a petition addressing the ratio of one counsellor to every 400 ākonga. This is something that they feel needs to change and that by generating more opportunities for access to counsellors so that those in need can get help. They hope that by increasing access that this will give people the tools to learn skills and strategies so that they can actively contribute to the wider community as adults.
They would really appreciate you looking at their petition, signing it and passing it on to others http://chng.it/TLzbByrffd.