Throughout primary school, one thing that I remember from all the good memories and learning experiences I had, was IDL, which I knew as Topic. In particular, in primary 5 my class topic was the Rainforest. I can vividly remember my teacher, who was extremely enthusiastic introducing the topic, where at first I was unsure what relevance and interest that would be to me, as a 9 year old, living in the very North of Scotland. However, by the end of the topic not only me, but the whole class and school were immersed in learning about the Rainforest and topic became a lesson which was looked forward to and was *nearly* as exciting as break or lunch time.
I remember firstly learning about the different animals and environment of the Rainforest, and discussing the different climates and animals compared to Scotland’s. As a class, a massive wall display was constructed, which included native animals and each layer of the Rainforest. Furthermore, my class teacher asked the class if we would like to do an enterprise project at the school’s Christmas fair to raise money to sponsor a tiger, which would be found in the Rainforest, as a class. We made Christmas decorations and had to organise money, allocate roles, make the decorations and source our materials to do so, as well as using our initiative and explain to people what we were fundraising for and why. I remember this being so exciting, and something that involved the whole school and community. This incentive of ‘adopting’ a tiger created a real buzz and immersion of all children into the enterprise task, which at the end of the project, we were able to adopt the tiger. We wrote letters to the tiger, and started learning about the conservation of animals and the Rainforest, and what we can do to help.
Additionally, the topic of FairTrade and how to look after the environment was tied into the Rainforest topic, which involved a class trip to the local Co-op, to explore the FairTrade products, as well as going to the local landfill site to discuss the importance of recycling and looking after the environment – which I can remember the smell of more than anything.
When thinking back to primary school, this is a memory that always comes into my head and something which I really enjoyed learning about in school. Reflecting back, I do think this was because of the teacher’s enthusiasm and willingness to go above and beyond the prescriptive outcomes of that topic, and deliver the learning in an engaging and relevant way which was tailored to our interests. Now that I am learning about IDL and making cross-curricular links effectively, I feel this was a fantastic example of IDL which was active, engaging and was embodied across many areas of the curriculum. It didn’t feel like learning as it was done in such as fun way, and I always remember going home and telling my parents all sorts of knowledge and understanding of what I had been learning – some which I still remember 11 years later.
I think this is an experience I will always remember, and one which I will reflect upon for inspiration, and as an experience that I would love to replicate to have as big an impact on, in my practice as this teacher and topic had on me.