In a letter to all MP’s obtained by The Courier Mail Premier Campbell Newman has revealed how this Government’s 30-year vision for the state would become a study topic for students. In-class activities, including lesson plans and contest, will be introduced to ensure the plan is seen by more than just politicians and public servants. Teachers have questioned whether there is enough room in the curriculum to allow time for Queensland Plan lessons and whether teaching a document produced by a Government is appropriate. (Direct copy from Today’s Courier Mail page 3)
The opportunities are endless AND they don’t have to involve more work for already over-stretched teachers (I know I was one for a while in the UK and many of my friends in Qld are teachers) and that’s why I trawled my hard drive library to find this blog about involving teenagers in policy, planning and design projects which was first published way back in 2002!
Grumpy persons into
Enthusing primary school children to walk to school is easy; a few posters and the prospect of being given a sticker and they’re putty in your hands. A few free breakfasts and the rumours of cash payment in return for their workplace car parking space and the average Joe Bloggs is prepared to hear you out on travel plans. But teenagers, well that’s a whole different ball game.
Just sneaking a peep into my teenage sisters bedroom (obviously entrance is forbidden) should have been enough to make me wonder why I willing suggested and enthusiastically volunteered to work with them. In them, I mean 600 teenagers.
Teenagers had been bothering me, so to speak, for a considerable period of time. Girls didn’t like cycling, boys were being bullies on the bus and the whole concept of owning an old banger was just so cool.
But I had been set a challenge. The Local Authority whom I was working to develop travel plans had plans to put a pedestrian crossing at a location between the comprehensive schools main entrance and the towns shopping area (basically at a point along a 500m distance). There were two key issues. Firstly there were simply too many pupils for the width of the pavements and secondly there were no safe crossing places. At the beginning, but most prominently at the end of the day teenagers literally swamped the entire highway.
My gut reaction was to give the teenagers their say. To let them decide on the type and location of a new crossing. With the Local Authority persuaded that whilst it was not the ‘norm’ it could lead to some innovative conclusions, I approached the school, who were eager to include a ‘Plan 4 real’ day into a forthcoming Citizenship week. My next task was how was I going to ‘entertain’ 600 teenagers for a day?…
The day began with an aims and objectives presentation. The teenagers then split into modal groups and set off to walk the perimeter of the school grounds with their assigned facilitator. The students were given a relatively open brief; ‘Identify how the school site and local highway could be improved, including your preferred location for a new crossing’. The number and diversity of responses were unbelievable. When the ideas were collated onto a site and local area map there was hardly any area untouched by ‘teenage thinking’. Back inside school the groups underwent a ‘mode MOT workshop’ ©. Each group identified what they liked, disliked and wanted improved with their normal travel mode. This was translated onto the MOT form with their main actions for each issue.
Can teenagers make a difference? Should teenagers be consulted? Well the proof is the pudding. The Local Authority had proposed one pedestrian crossing – their logic ‘best location to help the most people’. The teenagers want two zebra crossings – their logic ‘a wider range of people have the greatest benefit’. Not only this but they came up with some innovative proposals to radically improve safety, reduce vehicle conflicts and improve movements on their school site.
They might have messy bedrooms but believe me they can teach us a thing or two about transport planning!
This opinion piece was first published in the UK in the Journal of Road Safety in September 2002