What comes to mind when you see the word “teacher”? It would least likely be an 11-year-old-child, but these days, it could very well be a possibility.
After all, why not? With topics like sustainability, the younger generation might be more cognisant of their role as heirs of the future, and as a result be more concerned about educating others about sustainable practices. This is what is happening with the Young Scientist Badge scheme, a 41-year-old programme by the Science Centre Singapore to cultivate an interest in science among primary school students in Singapore. An unexpected but welcome outcome of the scheme is seeing students taking the lead in pushing for sustainable living in their homes.
With this example in mind, one wonders if we can put our students in the driver seat more. As much as we talk about student-centred learning, such instructional approaches are often still initiated by teachers. Maybe it is time to think also about student-driven learning.
Perhaps we could draw inspiration from the efforts of a Filipino education accountability project, and get students on local school boards in decisions concerning education governance. Or, in multi-disciplinary coalitions dedicated to creating diverse education-to-workforce pathways, could we not include students in the conversation too? If students, being the recipients of learning and hence the biggest stakeholders of education, can have their voices heard more, they can be empowered to make real and impactful change for the future they hold.