Two teachers explain how an approach to literacy that incorporates an in-school book publishing program has contributed to an increase in engagement levels.
About two years ago, Noosa Pengari Steiner School was given the opportunity by the then Queensland Studies Authority to submit its high school courses for recognition.
We were a young high school (about four-years-old), so writing the first course for recognition became an opportunity to imagine our school as we would ideally want it to be.
We had already been looking at student engagement and how to improve it, understanding that engaged students are motivated students, and that motivated students achieve well academically and in the world. What we really wanted to achieve was a dynamic way of teaching, to utilise our particular attributes as a school to our advantage and leverage off the fact we are a small school.
So, we began by discussing what we wanted the school to be like. We came to the conclusion that the essential question to ask was: What will the graduates from our school be like? In other words, What qualities should they have? We asked ourselves, the students, and the parents, and came up with the list below. Our students would be:
Prepared and motivated
Confident and self-sufficient
Socially and globally responsible
It was clear to us that to achieve these goals we were going to need a grassroots approach to developing our school. Essentially, we really wanted to achieve a dynamic way of teaching, and the ability to utilise our particular attributes as a school to our advantage.
Naturally, we wanted to maintain our core educational philosophy, which for a Steiner school includes providing a comprehensive, general humanist education, which aims to educate students for life beyond employment and further study. This presented us with a few challenges, but we deliberately chose to reinvent the wheel.
The top priority was student engagement. We came to the conclusion that if you do not have engagement, everything beyond the simplest cognitive tasks could potentially be a lost cause, and that was not going to get us to our goals. So we set out to actively research, measure and improve student engagement.
What we realised, was that today’s young people need to be educated in a way that affirms their place and value in the world. This led us to create programs and lessons that either put something real into the world or engaged with the world as it presents itself currently. These tasks, more often than not, require students to use a multidisciplinary approach.
Book publishing program
In 2010 we started a book project with the Year 10s. As teachers,…