Students conduct inquiry-based learning to tackle the criminal justice system
Stemmed from the revisioning of the Multi-Age Culture Classes (MACC), the District’s pilot Gifted Enrichment Centre (GEC) offers a rich and robust program for students in Grades 4 to 7. Unlike the MACC program where it was exclusively offered to students with a gifted designation all year round, GEC allows any student from across the District who is interested in enriched learning to apply for the 6-week long program.
The GEC program has a potential capacity of over 700 spaces, in contrast to the maximum 80 spaces in the MACC program. With the 6-week program period, students in the GEC programs are provided hands-on, project-based learning opportunities related to a myriad of topics including STEM, music, theatre, poetry, history and current events.
For the January cohort, GEC students explored the topics of social justice, specifically issues around human rights, diversity, advocacy, allyship and activism. The focus of their studies was to answer the question: “How might we be change-makers?”
“The exploration of these topics around social justice works in tandem with students’ examination of their identity, privilege, and positionality,” says Carly Herman, District Resource Teacher supporting the social justice cohort. “This inquiry-based learning led to reflections on diversity of the community in which we live.”
Throughout their learning, students also explored historic and current events related to identity and human rights. “Students were encouraged to consider how identity shapes our communities and how we might choose to create positive change,” Herman adds.
Students attended weekly sessions with the Justice Education Society where they had the opportunity to attend court, meet with judicial and provincial justices and learn from defense attorneys, Indigenous court workers, and sheriffs.
“It was such a privilege to be able to go to a courthouse and be able to watch the court unfold,” says a GEC student in the social justice cohort. “I definitely enjoyed and will remember my experience with the Justice Education Society.”
Putting their first-hand experience to the test, students also led a mock trial to reflect on the themes they learned about in the courtroom.
With their new research skills and courtroom experiences, parents say their children are more aware of social justice issues and how the judicial system operates – one parent mentioned their child now wants a career as a judge!