“But the project finished two terms ago!”, Rochelle complained after legging it from her home to meet Cameron and I outside the school gates one weekday evening.
That isn’t how truly authentic projects work – they don’t neatly fit into term-schedules. We were off to summarise our report on the air pollution that would be caused by a proposed set of concrete factories, slap-bang in the olympic park.
In two hours of dense, tightly protocoled discussion, Cameron was the only speaker to get a laugh. Finishing his planned speech, he paused, “I just have two more things I want to say”. I couldn’t decide whether to leap in and move things on, but he spoke, eloquently and from the heart, about intergenerational responsibility. “When you are old we are going to look after you” was the punchline that got the chuckle.
Rochelle, finishing our presentation with the line “Do you really want to be responsible for giving my grandkids lung cancer?” (Which we hastily had drafted while in the waiting outside, scribbling up against the wall), cut through the technical jargon (Section 10.3, 2011 Planning Act, B9 usage) to create a phrase that the room remembered. Several people came up at the end to shake her hand and reference that line.
The committee voted unanimously against the building of the concrete factories. (My) summary of their position – we accept that all cities require building materials, but we are shocked by the poor quality and thoughtlessness of this specific application. The chairman, in his summary, specifically praised the students – “to hear the two youngsters speak was powerful”.
The other protestors went to the pub to celebrate. The kids declined the offer of a beer, and instead went home safe in the knowledge that their learning had truly changed something . “Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot make a difference to the world” one of the local residents joyously yelled as he shook Cameron’s hand.