Tall Towers and Teamwork at the Maunga School
January 21 2015

It was week two of the new Life Skills curriculum at the Maunga School on Saturday 17th January, part of our ALERT Education Centre Programme. Carrying on from week one, where students were introduced to the six ‘STRIPE’ skills in turn, this week the students were shown how the skills are most effective when combined in a task process. After a quick recap of what the six ‘STRIPE’ skills were, students were set a ‘design and build’ challenge: to create the tallest tower they could out of straw and materials that were available to them in their courtyard.

The session began with pupils practising the skills of Self-management (planning and organisation) and Innovation by sketching out a simple design of what they thought might work. They were then divided into two teams and shared ideas within their team.

The lesson burst to life outside as the students, who were initially reserved in the confines and structure of the classroom, suddenly embraced the challenge and set about their task. The two groups opted for different designs and as the task developed, we began to see Teamwork and Participation come to the fore.

Once they had completed their towers, the groups had an opportunity to question their design (Enquiry), note its weak points and look at ways they could improve it. Perhaps more importantly, they also Reflected on their own contributions to the project: some had shown good leadership, others had followed a plan well, while some had proved to be less motivated – which was very evident by the state of the towers.

The groups then combined and the best attributes of both towers came together. After a final push and with everyone involved, a tower over twice the height of the students’ original efforts was constructed. The objective here was, of course, not to have a record breaking tower; but the process and to utilise and develop the skills that the students had been taught. It could be observed during this task that, at this stage, the skills remain new to the students and have yet to be properly developed. Over the coming weeks the students will focus on each skill in turn through case studies and practical activities. This interactivity is designed to help them realise how these skills will benefit them, and practise the use of these skills so that they become more self-assured and better prepared for the challenges of education and life beyond

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