So, if someone asks you to find a way to educate the hyper stimulated hi-tech youth of today, on the value of becoming more sustainable and energy conscious you may think them mad, but also wonder how do you do it. As many of us know who are parents of teenagers the last thing you expect your son or daughter to do is to have them switch the TV/X-Box off when they go to bed, or even know what the off position looks like on a light switch never mind not charging their precious phone on the charging dock all night. Yet Midcounties Co-operative Green Pioneers have achieved this and much much more. So what is the secret recipe? Well, in the style of Jamie Oliver I will throw in some of this and a bit of that and try to explain in what we will call the Deep Immersion Green Recipe (weights and measure are estimates true Jamie style).
The Deep Immersion Green Recipe
Take 12 year nine students (13 years old) six of each variety with a mix of abilities
Add to the mix a teacher with some knowledge of sustainability and a passion for learning outside the classroom.
Bring together the students and teacher with a representative from Midcounties’ Co-operative Energy and invite the students in the nicest way to their worst nightmare of no phone, no electricity and lots of rain in Wales, with the promise of the adventure of a lifetime and lots of personal development.
After only a few moments show the students the animations of a thing called “Shhh” and explain what “DOES” (Democracy, Openness, Equality and Social Responsibility) really means when you work for Co-operative Energy.
Within a week take the students and teacher to the stunning area of the world called Aberdovey in Wales and immerse them into the deep learning environment called “The Outward Bound Trust”. Run them around a bit and jump into the sea as soon as you arrive. Keep the students very busy getting them to work in a democratic way and develop a team which relies on them all being equal stakeholders.
You now have the basic raw material, but to create the Green Pioneer the tricky bit now begins. Firstly give them a task called ‘Operation Impact’ in which they must navigate to places and live for 3 days and two nights in the most sustainable way possible using a limited amount of carbon fuels. To help them with the task they will be trained in leadership skills using Belbin profile and they will have a guide from Outward Bound and their teacher with them.
Now a very important and dangerous step, remove the mobile phone and iPod carefully, place them in a secure location. Pack a very large rucksack along with food in a silver bag, a cooker and some tents. Make sure that you remove the 10 kg of Haribo from each bag before the students depart and head off into Snowdonia by doing the thing teenagers hate most called walking up hills.
The recipe now gets a little more difficult as each Green Pioneer has its own growth cycle and time of being the leader. Allow the Pioneers to talk and review their growth at regular intervals and help shape them. After three days of living in tents, log cabins, paddling on the sea in canoes, using trains and walking late at night in the dark you add the sprinkle of magic dust called Outward Bound and you have your basic Green Pioneer.
The topping and finishing of the Green Pioneer takes more time and involves the help of many people from the Midcounties Co-operative. They must firstly explain what they learnt about “DOES” and how it works at a Green Pioneers board meeting, and then explain in more detail what they understand about being sustainable and Energy use aware. They must then prove over the next two weeks that they are more aware completing investigations at Co-operative premises and conduct some research into how they can become more sustainable, and energy conscious in their daily lives.
The final and most difficult part of this recipe is to gather all of the Green Pioneers into a group and put them together on display. They must present themselves to the Co-operative Energy Board, the Executive of Midcounties Co-operative and to all of their school showing off how they are now Green Pioneers and what this means to them. Their final flourish is to show how they have developed into excellent future leaders and environmentally aware citizens and to instil this in others.
This is the basic recipe which will vary according to weights and cooking time. You will however gain a young person who is able to explain how they have lived in a Democratic way with other people, demonstrating Equality with lots of Openness, (sometimes being a little bit too truthful) and having a great deal more Social Responsibility. This young person will go on and spread the message to others. In this batch it was not to charge phones overnight and be to be much more aware of sustainability and Energy usage. Why is it called deep immersion? By taking the Pioneers away you manage to get them working far harder and at a greater depth in their learning about Energy. This recipe can be used by anyone who has all of the raw ingredients, a sense of humour, and a passion to see young people develop. The next batch will be started in March 2014.