1. Description of Our Community
Our community is Sydney and the area around Sydney (including portions of rural NSW close to Sydney). We have applied a broad definition of our community in order to better cover enough about leadership - meaning that we have included many influential leaders such as former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Professor Tiller. The Sydney community is vibrant and diverse, with a very strong sense of culture and unity, backed by the government social policy multiculturalism.
Knox, our school community, is an independent boys' K-12 school under the auspices of the Uniting Church of Australia. At Knox, we have a close, supportive community. Our aim is to prepare our young men to be confident, creative and responsible global citizens who take a genuine interest in the world and others. Our school is located in Northern Sydney, NSW Australia.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our project consists of the gathering of knowledge about the nature of leadership and leaders in the Sydney community. We have interviewed many local leaders in various fields who have particular expertise in their line of work, such as in: health, arts, science, politics, education, sports, and religion. We encountered influential, edifying people who have made a lasting contribution to the Australian community. Each one of these people has been driven by passion, vision and purpose. Their commitment to their field and the people they influence was palpable. Their brand of leadership was about modelling, nurturing future leaders, having ethical and moral responsibility and a commitment to life-long learning. These people have inspired us to understand how we can make a difference to society now and in the future. We are all members of our school’s Future Thinkers’ Team where we are encouraged to contribute to the curriculum debate, initiate educational projects, such as a global writing project and a global Creativity Conference being held at Knox in November 2013. We have been entrusted with leadership of student voice at Knox. Two of our team members recently approached the Dean of Studies with a proposal about providing precise advice to students choosing electives. They are now designing and writing a document that will be used by boarders and future students. Our school has entrusted us with the mission of representing the academic needs of our student body. We have a strong voice that is heard. Meeting these amazing leaders has provided us with a clearer understanding of how we can use our voice to make a difference, not only in our school, but in the global community.
We have compiled our information into Google Documents, which has been transferred onto our website created through Wix.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Our team faced many problems including a lack of microphones, time constraints, lack of team availability and difficulty in getting interviews. We had the problem of a lack of microphones as we needed to use them to record the interviews. Consequently, we sent two team members to go looking around the school and asking teachers for microphones to use, though the results that came back were not satisfactory (i.e. we got a CD player, headset microphones or PA megaphone instead of microphones). However, we were ultimately able to overcome this problem as we were given excellent advice from the music department to use a Macbook to record the audio and sync the video with the audio by clapping our hands. We also faced the problem of time constraints in our project, as we found that we had used up 4 months of time very productively and produced solid material, but still had much more to do in the last 2 weeks.
Consequently, we solved this by cutting down on our very ambitious project in order to go with the vast amount we had already done. Another problem we faced was the lack of team availability as it was difficult to find a time that all 10 members could make to work on the project. We worked around this by cooperatively agreeing to work in our own time. Finally, we experienced difficulty in getting interviews, especially in the topic of politics, as most politicians in our local area were very reluctant to get involved in the community due to their duties in Parliament. We overcame this by getting other interviews in other topic areas.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states that ‘Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.’ Participating in International Schools CyberFair enabled us to meet with individuals who are recognised in their field as outstanding leaders and as having made a difference to others in their community and beyond, making us aware of how we can make a difference at our school and in the future through having vision, passion, emotional intelligence and purposeful actions.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
The CyberFair project was completed in tandem with our regular schoolwork, assessments and homework as per the NSW curriculum. Some class time was reassigned to allow for completion of the task. As we interviewed so many leaders in the community we learnt so much about following protocol when contacting and interviewing people, asking meaningful and strategic questions, using the correct technology to capture interviews and how to deal ethically with a diverse range of people. Our success in this project is attributed to teamwork. We each bring unique skills and knowledge to this project so we developed an even greater understanding and respect for each other. We all developed a deeper understanding of leadership and the significance of good leaders. Before we interviewed the leaders, we researched what is leadership. As academic student leaders in our school, we are now keen to apply what we have learnt and contribute even more significantly to improving student learning. Our school has embraced the notion of student voice. We are encouraged through student leadership and the Future Thinkers’ team to have a genuine say about our education and to contribute to the development of a quality curriculum. We are part of a team that is planning and leading a global conference on ‘Creativity’ this year. We are designing the program and invited the keynote speakers, Dr Yong Zhao and Alan November who have accepted. This project has enabled us to realise how fortunate we are to be at a school that is innovative and student focused.
We believe that we have addressed all the requirements of the project as we have explored how the positive actions and contributions of local individuals have the power to improve, preserve and unite communities. Now we understand how we can contribute to a better future for all.