Transcript of Entrepreneurial education

This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the Entrepreneurial education podcast (18:02).

Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Secondary Learners Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played around New South Wales. Their art, storytelling, music and dance along with all first nations people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us acknowledge with honor and respect our elders past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom. Welcome to the creative cast podcast series I'm Jackie King and I'm a creative arts project officer with the New South Wales Department of Education. Today we're going to discuss the strategy of the week with Lily Ferris from Wilcannia and Menindee central schools. Hi, Lily. How are you?

Lily – I'm going Great thanks, Jackie.

Jackie – Thank you so much for joining us today. You submitted a really cool video on our flip grid about your entrepreneurial education in Wilannia and Menindee central schools, which sounds really exciting and so I'm really keen to get to talking about that kind of education. But before we do, I would really like to learn more about what Wilcannia and Menindee central schools are like, because I feel like they're going to be quite different from what most of us are used to in our comprehensive high schools along the Eastern Seaboard in Sydney or in the Hunter Valley where I am. So could you give us a little bit of a context of Wilcannia and Menindee central schools?

Lily – So, Menindee and Wilcannia, based on Barkinji country. So that's in far west New South Wales. Along the Darling River.

They are two towns separated by 150 kilometers of dirt Road and their major cities, both Broken Hill and Mildura and Cobar. So these are very remote towns, and they are also towns with high populations of Indigenous people. The students aged from preschool to year 12 in these schools because they're central schools and they're very, very small schools. So this might mean, for example, in Wilcannia only having one student in Stage six, so it's really amazing that these two schools can actually work together through the Wilvandee access program that links up those two schools with Ivanhoe Central School, which is another few 100 kilometers away from Menindee.

Jackie – Wow. So it kind of blows my mind a little bit that they're 150 kilometers away from each other, but you are able to work together. I hope that you have fantastic Internet access out there. So you're able to to talk and correspond, I guess, like we all have through Covid, using things like Zoom or teams or that sort of thing. Is that how you you work out there?

Lily – So we're very familiar with contacting each other over video conference. In fact, that Wilvandee access program has allowed me to teach visual design to both students in Menindee, and Wilcannia Central School without leaving Wilcannia Central School. Sometimes it does also connect students to other schools, like the Dubbo Distant School of Education. So it's the way remote schools have been operating for a very long time. And when Covid came about, I was able to spend three hours a day on video conferences with one of my senior students, which was incredible. And I'm not sure if many other students in the state were as lucky to have so much one on one time during Covid.

Jackie – Of course. How lucky were they? That sounds great. So your strategy that you shared with us is entrepreneurial education. So what is entrepreneurial education and how did you get involved with that?

Lily – So entrepreneurial education has a business mindset for students. It describes to them that they don't need to wait till they finish school to be able to start making a living out of the things that they're learning about in, Wilcannia, and Menindee, there is a large issue with disengagement in senior years, especially and this is because sometimes the things we're learning in the syllabus don't seem relevant. To tackle these and also to address the lack of employment opportunities for young people in these two towns, we have started a design business so that students can create products in their classes and sell them through the local art gallery in Broken Hill. But also we're looking at starting an online business, and this means that our students can see that they can get a living out of being an artist and a designer and that they could do that right now and not wait till school's over.

Jackie – That sounds fantastic, and I really love how it links what you're doing in the classroom to the real world, to give that relevance to students, to say, Well, I can actually do this and I can make money from it and that is a real reason to do it. So when you first implemented this entrepreneurial education, how did you go about doing that?

Lily – So the idea came from the fact that the students all said that they wanted to be artists when they grow up, and there are many young people that dream of being artists. But I know that being an artist is really difficult and that you need for all intensive purposes bread and butter money to survive as an artist.

And I also noticed there was a huge investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and design products in Australia at the moment, and people were actually listening and noticing young Indigenous clothing labels, art products, homewares, and this is something that our students could tap into because it built upon the skills that they already had. We developed teaching and learning program that actually focused on building a brand and that fit within the visual design syllabus. So one thing we did was actually change our students from being in the visual arts course to being in the visual design course, and that was one of the best decisions for our schools. And we've seen that they've been able to not only meet the outcomes of the visual design course but actually excel in them. We've had to apply for quite a few grants to help us get this going. We wanted to expose our students to the visual arts and design world within Aboriginal culture, not just by showing them pictures of other brands. We wanted to take them places, so we actually took them to Sydney. We took them to the Northern Territory to the Darwin Aboriginal arts fair, and they were able to see all of the amazing ways they could turn their designs, often drawings into products that people would want to buy.

Jackie – What an experience for those students who are obviously from very small and remote communities, to go to, say, the Northern Territory or to go to Sydney to see those artworks and what can become of an artwork once you've you've done a drawing that's really cool. The reason why I love this strategy is because it links student learning to the real world, which is something that I'm I'm super passionate about.

A couple of years ago, I ran a course called The Art of Busking in Year nine music, and we had to focus on the United Nations Global Goals for sustainable development in our school in Stage Five. So the students wanted to look at, in that course the goal of zero Hunger, and they wanted to busk for a charity that looked after the homeless. So we had to look at the regulations for busking in our area. So fortunately for our students, we didn't need to have a busking license but our council regulations were that they we're not allowed to be offensive and they weren't allowed to block a walkway. So in order to be able to busk, they had to arrange the songs that they'd normally play to smaller outfits so that they didn't have a drum kit. They couldn't use electricity and they had to think about how to do it acoustically and so it would still sound good for the public and that the public would still like it. Fortunately for us, when when they got up into the Main Street and started to do there busking the community really got behind them and, they raised just over $350 for a local charity. The beauty of the course was that we were able to meet syllabus outcomes. We were able to, meet the composition outcomes, arranging and they could see a real purpose for needing to meet those arranging outcomes. They could see why they had to arrange their songs in the way that they did because they had to meet those council regulations. They couldn't take up a drum kit. They couldn't take up an electric keyboard or electric guitars because they had no access to electricity up there. So they had to rethink the way that they performed their songs. And then it also hit their performance outcomes because they were performing in small groups. They were performing and demonstrating solo awareness, etcetera.

So it gave a really purpose for what the syllabus calls for. And that's what I love about what you're doing with this entrepreneurial education is that you are giving the students a real reason to complete those syllabus outcomes.

Lily – And I, a lot of those students might not have had an opportunity to perform just like a lot of the students in Wilcannia and Menindee wouldn't have necessarily exhibited their artwork to a large group of people. And that sense of pride can really help maintain the momentum in the senior years, because most teenagers are exhausted by the time it gets to year 10 than 11 and 12, and it can be hard to see the finish line. So if you already brought the finish line a bit closer by showing them what they can do with these skills in the real world, they will definitely be more engaged in those senior years.

Jackie – So once you implemented this and you said you, they sold their works at a gallery in Broken Hill. Is that right?

Lily – Yes, there was the Maari Ma Indigenous Art Awards, a the beginning of the year at Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. These are really popular awards and because of the types of things the students had been doing and other young artists in these remote communities. The art gallery actually held a market for the opening of the exhibition, and so our students were able to set up the store themselves for their products. They had their own logo that they designed. They had a neon light with their logo, so it was very professional, and they sold out of many of the T shirt designs. And there are a few items still for sale in the gallery now with their own, um, wall dedicated to their products.

Jackie – Oh, that is so fantastic. And just out of curiosity, what what happened with the money that they raised?

Did that go back into the school, or did you look at giving that to a charity or some sort of thing?

Lily – So at this point, logistically, we're still trying to work out how to set this up as a separate non for profit business so that artists can be paid for their individual contributions. A lot of the money from selling the products at this stage has gone into providing more opportunities. An example of one of these opportunities was sending four students to Sydney to work with publisher textiles in Annandale, and they printed their own T shirts and lengths of fabric for a whole week. Which is an incredible opportunity to be in a real screen printing warehouse and not just sending off your designs to get printed by someone else but actually being responsible for printing them in bulk. And that opportunity wouldn't have been possible unless we'd been able to fundraise from selling some of the other products.

Jackie – That's fantastic, and I'm sure they really see the value then because they're getting incredible work experience that they probably wouldn't get otherwise.

So what would you say the outcome for implementing entrepreneurial education? What was the outcome for your students at Wilcannia and Menindee?

Lily – By far the most obvious outcome has been an increased engagement and an increased willingness to participate in all of these activities. Students have always loved, always loved art, and this has given them a chance to dedicate even more of their studies towards that. We have a student who is also studying information and digital technologies, and he's now building a website for himself as a designer.

As part of that course, he's looking into finance and business management with some of his other courses and even the stage five students have started exploring more entrepreneurial education at Menindee Central School, and they're looking to set up their own opportunities to promote their work and also the work of the senior students.

Jackie – That's fantastic, and I really love how you must be changing the mindset almost in terms of giving them job opportunities or creating their own job opportunities for the future.

Lily – And some of the students that have graduated since we started the style of teaching have actually maintained involvement within the school and are still excited to participate in these design experiences. And I think it's great that we can really extend the graduation age from school and not just say, oh, students have reached 12. You don't need to be here anymore, but actually attract them to come back to school to be even more involved.

Jackie – I love that whole idea of the research that's around the year 13 and them still being able to be attached to the school in some way and obviously coming in at that other level, like now we're finished school and we are going to lead a workshop or or something like that, That's fantastic.

Lily – One of my students actually has just had the opportunity to do that. He has helped lead workshops with Water New South Wales for all of the primary aged students in Wilcannia, which across two schools in Wilcannia, and he taught them how to draw for a project to put their artwork onto the new weir being well built in Wilcannia. And so that was an incredible experience for him.

Jackie – That is so exciting. Thank you for sharing that with us today, Lily. I hope it gives people just another way of thinking about approaching a subject or a topic as a way to connect to the real world and sort of future proof those students as well give them ideas on how they can create a living from their art because, as as you've already said that bread and butter money as an artist can be quite difficult. So, how you can start a business and make money from your art is really fantastic. And, obviously, they're learning more skills than just drawing or in my case, than just playing an instrument. They're they're learning much bigger skills that are going to help them further in life. Thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your strategy of the week with us and I look forward to hearing more about what's happening in Wilcannia and Menindee Central schools in the future

Lily – Thanks so much, Jackie.

Jackie – Get involved in the conversation by recording your favorite teaching strategy. Using the strategy of the weak flip grid in the Creative Arts Statewide Staff Room. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter at Creative Arts Curriculum 7 to 12 or contact us via email. Theme music for this podcast was composed by Alex Manton and audio production by Jason King.


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