For over 20 years, Waste Watch has been delivering schools programmes up and down the country. Our aim has always been to help provide children and young people with the knowledge, skills and values that enable them to participate in building a just, fair and green society.
Traditionally, this has been approached through programmes which focus on delivering fun, hands on quality learning activities; mainly assemblies and workshops linked to the national curriculum. While we strongly believe in the importance of interactive, engaging learning we have come to realise that simply focusing on the content of the activities alone rather than the way in which they delivered and link together will not fully achieve these aims.
Reflecting on this as an education team, and an organisation as a whole, has led us to rethink and develop the way we approach our projects. We now favour an action learning approach.
Lessons are designed to take children and young people on a journey from being initially enthused about the topic at hand, through to exploring and connecting their knowledge and experiences. This approach provides young people and children with the opportunity to not only develop their own understanding around an issue but the ability to reflect and develop their own strategies that can take forward.
This is not to say that we should cease to deliver or recognise the importance of standalone workshops that take sustainability issues to children and young people, but instead we need to rethink our approach when the aim is to create real changes in attitudes and behaviour.
The Waste Watch conference this year is structured around an agenda based on the action learning cycle and The Otesha Project UK, a youth-led charity that helps young people become agents of change, will present their approach at our conference.