Zombie School: Working with young people to co-design the future.

Year: 2018

Author: Lewis, Nia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

“There’s a glaring omission in Gonski 2.0 - students. The learners at the centre of this reform are absent from the thinking and design of future learning systems and environments. Failing to recognise student’s importance and agency in their own learning is a serious oversight” (Owens 2018).
The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) New Work Order report series, provides insights into the changing world of work in a transforming global economy. The collection of six reports provide a compelling argument for educational reform, illustrating the need to develop education and learning systems that are better able to support young people to thrive in a changing world, with uncertain futures. 
The Zombie School research project was designed to engage young people, with a range of educational experiences, in imagining, creating and inspiring change within the education system. In response to the statement above, it offers a specific methodology for involving students in ‘the thinking and design of future learning systems and environments’ (Owens 2018). 
Through a series of participatory workshops with Playford City Youth Advisory Committee, young people were tasked with rebuilding the education system in a post Zombie Apocalypse world. Participants worked together to consider and respond to the following questions:

What kind of world do you want to live in?
How might education help you achieve your vision of a new world?
What is the purpose of Education in the new world with an uncertain future?
What changes can we make to the current education system to better meet the needs of all young people.

This paper provides a summative evaluation of the Zombie School research project, shares initial findings and examines how young people’s views and ideas for educational reform reflect the changes advocated for by the FYA body of research. Furthermore, it offers a call to action, inviting educators working with young people in both formal and informal learning environments, to consider and create opportunities for the youth of today to imagine and build the education systems of tomorrow.