10 Ways to Talk Flag

So we’re down to four but how did we get there and what will the final result be?  On Tuesday a tweetfrom @8Cshs caught my attention.  8C from Selwyn House School were watching the final four flags as they were announced live at parliament. I was really inspired by the way this classroom teacher was engaging students in a democratic (or not so democratic) process and I wondered whether other teachers were using this referendum in their classroom?

First there was the John Oliver segment which drew our attention to ‘Kiwi with Laser Beam Eyes’ Then of course the whole of New Zealand literally exploded with their reaction to the final selection and a whole heap of ideas presented themselves.  So here is a quick top ten ways that the School Kit Team have come up with to use the flag debate/referendum in your classroom.  Scale up or down as the ability of your class demands.

  1. Asking what makes good design: Investigate principles of good design and good flag design. Rank the final 4 or the final 40 for their adherence to these principles. Investigate why Gareth Morgan felt the need to hold his own design-led competition. Discuss whether or not a designer should have been included in the final selection panel. Make contact designers and ask why they agree or do not agree with the process. Reflect on media coverage around originality of design and repurposing of existing logos and brand icons.
  2. Thinking about fair democratic process: Was the process fair? Document, draw and chart the process. Discover who was on the selection panel. Think about this as a representative group of New Zealanders. Discuss the merits of a two stage referendum.  Should a designer have been on the panel?  How does it compare to electing our politicians?
  3. Analysis of the symbols in the top 40: Categorise, sort and re-sort the final 40 into groups.  Investigate the meanings behind the Top 40 symbols. Are there symbols that we gravitate more towards than others?  Statistically which symbols prevail?
  4. Curating your own Top 10: Use the existing 40 (or the existing 10,000) and curate your own top 10.  Investigate the decision-making factors in choosing a Top 10?  Create individual Top 10s and then devise a process to get to a final 4.
  5. Re-inventing the process:  Should everyone have a say? If everyone had a say would that be more or less expensive? How could you make the process more fair or better or cheaper? Experiment with weighting individual votes – how does that effect the outcome? Create an online forum and voting mechanism.  Carry out your own flag referendum with existing designs.
  6. Reviewing the media coverage: Collate and sort the media coverage. Search for a range of perspectives and media statements including John Key, Gareth Morgan, National Radio, Richie McCaw, Political Conspiracy, Pre and Post Final 4 reactions etc. Look at different issues in the media coverage and analyse the key messages. Source informal and formal media coverage. Ask: Has the media influencing our national response to the final 4?
  7. Investigating whether the process could be changed at this late stage: There are many individual petitions and articles that call to subvert and/or halt the process.  Could this be done?  Investigate whether or not this could legally happen? Use statistics to predict how many people would need to object to halt or reverse the process. Investigate suggestions made online.
  8. Predicting the final outcome: This flag debate is all about statistics.  If a happens then what is the likelihood of b,c or d occurring?  Turn the two stage referendum into a lesson in probability. Can you predict the outcome of the first stage and the second stage.  Look at opinions on social media and use these to make statistical assumptions. Investigate what would be required, statistically, to subvert the process? Investigate previous referendum voter turnout. What is the likelihood of us ending up with the flag we currently have.
  9. Conversing with the wider community: Use social media to source responses to the flag debate and the final 4.  Challenge your class to source local, national and international opinions and responses. Ask celebrities and high profile people. Ask Mums, Dads, local business owners and kids. Collate existing responses as well as sourcing new ones.  Chart them on negative-positive continuums. Plot their origin on a map. Be brave – ask people that you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to answer.
  10. Interpreting symbols: Why are flags so important?  Investigate the deeper meaning behind some of the symbols used in the proposed designs. Think about personal, national, informal and formal meanings.  Think about colour as a symbol.