10 Jul 2008
An Update on Transition Tales, Powerdown Training in School
I have mentioned Transition Tales here previously, it is the work that Transition Town Totnes has been doing in our local secondary school, working with Year 7 students raising awareness about energy issues and doing visioning work about how a post-oil world might be. Over the last couple of months the Transition Tales team has done the Transition Tales work with all of Year 7, and in the following article, project co-ordinator Hannah Mulder gives an overview of the project.
In the Autumn of 2006 a group started to look at how we might introduce the ideas of transition to young people and using storytelling from the future as a format was settled on. We set up a meeting with local secondary and primary schools at Schumacher College to talk to them about what they felt would work and was needed and from that were invited to do a pilot with a Year 9 class (13-14 year olds), at King Edward Sixth Community College (KEVICC), the big local secondary school.
Having thought that our end result would be written stories, we found that the format of filming local news stories from 2030 worked really well and Kevicc then invited us to work with the whole of Year 7, (11-12 year olds), in April and May 2008. This was to be part of their “collapsed curriculum” year in which students would not study under the usual headings but would look at overarching topics, such as “change”, which is where we came in.
Having secured funding from The Funding Network, we were ready to roll and started to fine tune the workshops and gather the resources that we’d need. A pilot with a Year 8 group helped us to develop the workshops and during the thirty-three sessions with the Year 7 group we tried out various different ideas, exercises and formats, especially in the middle bridging session. Many of the exercises we’ve been trying out and ideas are available to download here.
Our structure at Kevicc was three two hour workshops, but we’ve also done ones at primary level for one hour (very short!) and would also love to have as much time as possible with students. Our session plans give much more detail but the basic structure we’ve used is to introduce the issues through various games and exercises during the first session and in the last session to create and film imaginary local news stories from 2030, which we then post on YouTube so that the students can share them with their friends. In the middle session we’ve tried out a variety of things.
One session was about getting out into nature, sitting around a fire and hearing a resonant story, interacting with and being present in a wild place. One session developed a “Quest” game in which the passions, skills and resources of the students were taken forward into the future to meet various challenges…watch this space for developments. In our final trial middle session we looked at the school community, envisioning through three dimensional map-making how the school could be transformed in the future. The obstacles to making those changes happen were then explored and the students complete the session by making superheroes out of potato, symbolising the qualities needed to overcome those obstacles!
At the end of the sessions we had some glowing feedback from the school itself. Emma Osbourne, Year 7 Curriculum Co-ordinator, wrote;
“I have really enjoyed working with the Transition Tales project. I feel that this is incredibly worthwhile. We spend alot of time in education worrying about targets and levels. It has been wonderful to be involved in helping young people to think realistically about their future. People often talk about educating students about these issues and usually this just means preaching at them in an assembly or having a one off awareness day. The potential for this to be ongoing and the project’s emphasis on this is really encouraging. The approach you and your team have taken is fantastic. I like the way you have focused on the opportunities created by this inevitable change and how we can take control of them. It wasn’t at all preachy or scaremongering”.
For our finished films watch this space! (currently being edited…)
Thanks to….. the brilliant students from Dartington College of Arts who helped out in the workshops and their tutor Misha Myers who worked with them on their own artistic and theatrical visions of the future. GreenFibres and Seasalt both of whom sponsored the project by donating clothing for our “clothing box” in session one. Alex Munslow for his fantastic editing. All the helpers and volunteers from the education group. The staff at Kevicc for being so supportive.