The students chose to learn about health, which was broken down into physical, emotional and mental health. Students came up with questions they had about health and then decided on learning activities to pursue in order to find out the information they needed to answer these questions. After conducting internet, newspaper, magazine and book research the students suggested interviewing professionals in the field of health and what better experts to answer questions on physical health than two Munster rugby players.
The students studied questioning, interview etiquette, audio and digital recording in preparation for the interview. The students spent a lot of time coming up with and refining 12 interview questions around the topic of physical health and Niall and Mike answered each question expertly and offered excellent advice to the students around eating habits and the importance of exercise to maintain good physical health. Niall and Mike put so much thought into each detailed answer they gave and took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with the class afterwards. The students had a fantastic day and, as part of the NIC process, students keep a journal in which they write about their experiences to date with this curriculum approach. Students wrote in their journals: 'I had so much fun today, in fact, this has been the best day of the year', 'Today I interviewed a Munster rugby player, I was nervous at first but then when I saw them come in I was bubbling with excitement', 'We practiced so much and I hope we all did our interviewing jobs properly to impress the rugby players', 'We got to meet Munster rugby players today and get pictures and autographs, nothing could make this day any better'.
Different groups of students went on to interview a psychologist, a University lecturer, a Secondary School SPHE teacher and a beautician around topics such as depression, emotional health and adolescence. NIC provides the opportunity for greater pupil engagement with their teachers and each other. This work has taken a collaborative approach with students and as a result has developed deeper learning, problem solving and critical thinking skills in the participating students. The cooperative learning methodologies developed in this work have also made explicit the teaching of social and communication skills thus increasing student's self-esteem and the active engagement of students.
If you would like any further information on what is involved in negotiating a curriculum with students, please contact Joanne Fitzpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org. All involved would like to express a sincere thank you to Niall, Mike, Ken and Fiona Murphy from the Munster press office for organising the visit.