NSW student shares COVID learning with the world

A Year 7 student from Murwillumbah High School has shared his thoughts on learning after the pandemic in an online discussion with US students and educators. Sven Wright reports.

12 October 2020
A high school boy sits at a laptop in a classroom.
Image: Tex Mikkelsen takes part in the online forum.

Murwillumbah High School Year 7 student Tex Mikkelsen has featured in a US-based online educators’ discussion series about what schools can learn from operating under pandemic restrictions.

The series ‘Silver Lining for Learning’ has drawn academics and educators together for an hour each week to pool their experience and knowledge.

The school was approached by Professor Yong Zhao of the University of Kansas to nominate a student representative to discuss student agency and self-determination in the 29th episode, which was shown on October 4.

Murwillumbah High School principal Peter Howes said he was delighted the school’s work to maintain student engagement during the restrictions was recognised by the series.

“We certainly worked hard to explore all options and put the best ones into practice as soon as we could when we were no longer able to have normal face-to-face classes,” Mr Howes said.

“It’s testimony to our staff’s hard work and the excellent co-operation of the students and their families that we were able to maintain such seamless delivery throughout the curriculum.

“A big part of that was certainly tapping into students’ ability to take responsibility for what they were learning and how they went about it at home with their parents and online with their teachers and peers.

“I had no hesitation in nominating Tex for the initiative he took in his own work, particularly in his favourite interests of coding and design, but also as an example to his classmates.”

The episode Tex took part involved academics and two 18-year-old secondary students, one from Kentucky and one from Honolulu.

In the course of the discussion Tex outlined how the teachers at Murwillumbah High School tailored their teaching to students’ different needs, how self-directed learning by students became the norm, and how he felt the greater use of technology under COVID showed its potential for wider use when students are attending school as normal.

Tex said the forum was a worthwhile experience and he was proud to represent his school.

“We talked a lot about our different philosophy towards learning,” he said. However he said the discussion made him realise the extent of the impact of COVID in the US.

“It felt like we (NSW) were doing a lot better in relation to school shutdowns,” he said.

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