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Kids Teaching Kids

Topics: Participation and Learning | 2 comments

Kids Teaching Kids

A school-based education model from Australia is inspiring young people to learn about and care for the environment.

Kids Teaching Kids connects student groups with a local environmental issue, which they research and then present as a workshop to their class groups, schools and local communities. The hands-on, student-centred learning aims to change the way young people perceive their natural environment.

The Kids Teaching Kids Learning Model uses ‘peer teaching and learning’ pedagogy – where the traditional roles of teacher and student change. With support from the Kids Teaching Kids Program Management Team, teachers become the facilitators and students are empowered to take responsibility for their own learning. The program has been delivered to more than 30,000 students around Australia, and is taking off in many countries around the world.

Early inspiration
Kids Teaching Kids was developed by popular Australian environmental activist Arron Wood. It began in 1999 when Wood partnered up with his dad, school principal Richard Wood, to deliver an environmental learning program in his hometown of Mildura. Arron Wood is the recipient of a number of awards, including Young Australian of the Year (National Environment) in 2001 and the UN Individual Award for Outstanding Service to the Environment in 2006. In 2009 he was named by the Weekend Australian Magazine as one of the top 10 education leaders nationally, thanks to his work with Kids Teaching Kids.

Wood says the inspiration for the Kids Teaching Kids learning model came from a number of sources. ‘We researched many leading educational models and studies to support what we knew was working through gut feel. Answers as to why Kids Teaching Kids worked came from Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence finding, from resilient child literature, from cooperative approaches to learning and even from De Bono.’

  • Kids teaching kids and adults at a Kids Teaching Kids Conferences in Mildura, Australia
  • Kids teaching kids and adults at a Kids Teaching Kids Conferences in Mildura, Australia

International interest
As well as doing presentations to their schools and local communities, students can participate in local and international Kids Teaching Kids conferences, which offer them the chance to showcase their environmental projects to hundreds of their peers. Wood says the an international conference, held in October 2010 in Queensland, Australia, attracted over 500 students. ‘Our recent International Coastal Kids Teaching Kids Conference involved nine countries such as France, Sweden, New Zealand, Brazil and many more, but it also involved a group representing 15 of the Torres Strait Islands,’ he says. ‘We also had a group of indigenous students from remote central Australia who had never seen the ocean!’

Overseas interest in Kids Teaching Kids is growing, with 15 countries now using the model. Wood has recently completed a second trip to South Korea to help establish it there, and it is also taking off in New York, thanks to a United Nations invitation in 2008 which saw Arron presenting the education model to a number of schools in that city, as well as London and Geneva.

The model received a glowing endorsement from Carmel Mulvaney, then chief of the UN Works Programme: ‘Educators know that students retain 90 per cent of what they learn and then teach each other. The Woods have capitalised on this strategy and, in the process, have given youth the tools they need to find solutions to critical global issues,’ she said. The UN agreed to collaborate with the Woods to integrate the approach around the world.

Kids’ campaigns
Although Kids Teaching Kids is gaining momentum internationally, it’s some of the local issues tackled by student groups that stand out to Wood, like a project by students from Mildura, who took on the problem of litter coming from houseboats on the Murray River. ‘They ran a campaign, produced brochures to go on each houseboat and they went on to be selected as one of the top five environmental schools in the world at the Volvo Awards in Sweden,’ Wood says. ‘Not bad for a school from a country town.’

Another inspiring example he cites is by students at a state school in Eumundi, Queensland. ‘They take the tons of rubbish generated by the local market and the students manage a series of industrial scale worm farms to munch all the food waste. This is then turned into worm wee, a fantastic fertilizer, and the students sell the fertilizer to farmers back at the markets. Almost a closed recycling loop turning waste into a valuable resource!’

Hope for the future
The UN’s Carmel Mulvaney has said the Kids Teaching Kids model brings ‘renewed hope for encouraging activism by future generations’. Wood worries about the impact of ‘nature deficit disorder’ on today’s youth – ‘there is study after study showing that as we remove ourselves from nature we suffer all sorts of issues including links to the severity and frequency of ADD in kids, anxiety and depression’ – but he is confident the Kids Teaching Kids approach of focusing on a local issue can bring about a long-lasting change in the way young people feel about the environment.

He says direct contact with nature is vital in bringing about this change. ‘I think the size, complexity and beauty of our natural environment puts you back in the place you should be,’ he says. ‘We are only a very, very small part of the natural system and once we learn that, we may truly learn to live as part of that system.’



  • Mario Browne says:

    How does one get the Kids Teaching Kids program material?

    • Arron Wood says:

      Hi Mario you just need to head to the kids teaching kids website at and you can then sign up to be part of the program and also recieve the information.

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