A Memorable Learning Experience – The Windfarm Debate
When I was in Primary 7, my class were working on our debating skills. The teacher provided us with a number of opportunities to explore debates and understand what makes a good argument. We were then divided into groups with different roles allocated to each group. My memory is somewhat hazy now but I can recall there being a group of farmers, a group of local residents, a group of conservationists and my group – the RSPB. Our task was to consider whether our own group would be for or against a new windfarm being built. Over a series of lessons, we worked in our groups to research arguments that we might want to present in the whole class debate. We also had to plan costumes and divide up the roles so each person in the group had something to say in the debate.
I personally remember this learning experience because of my enthusiasm for dressing up. I remember being a very keen child and clutching a huge book of bird species while wearing a bizarre array of items: khaki trousers, hiking boots, a fleece with a hand-drawn RSPB badge, a wide-rimmed safari hat, cardboard loo roll binoculars and…a beak. Before I realised my call was to teaching, I went through a phase of aspiring to be a zoologist so I really engaged with the role of an RSPB representative. The teacher had mixed the groups and put us with people who might not naturally be in the same friendship groups so I remember enjoying getting to know other people in my class.
The experience gave us a meaningful context for our learning as it provided us with the chance to use our research skills, work as a team and explore the process of preparing for and participating in a debate. I particularly valued this learning experience as it was over a series of lessons so we had plenty of time and I hated rushing topics or projects. There were also some friendship issues in the class around this time so dividing us into groups with people we didn’t usually work with helped bring the class together and create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.