We might be seeing an exciting new program in Alberta’s school districts following the success of Aspen Heights Elementary School’s MicroSociety. Alberta chamber network is recommending that all school districts in Alberta implement at least one MicroSociety into a school in their district by 2025.
A Micro-Society is a program the school runs that allows the students a little more control over how they learn their curriculum. At the start of every year, the school selects the ‘government’ through a voting process. An MLA is elected to represent each classroom.
“We start off the year by having an election, a campaign, and then students vote. After that, we go right into students developing their own business ventures,” says Allan Baile, Teacher at Aspen Heights School, and MicroSociety Coordinator.
The students have a police station, food vendors, a spa, a theatre, warehouse, wellness centre, and a variety of stores. Additionally, the program includes currency called ‘Stingers’ and the students can use their currency to support their peers or invest in their own business venture.
“Every student has a resume and job application and then they go through an interview process with all of the different ventures. It’s a really cool process for the kids to understand that ‘No I just don’t get a job, I have to apply for a job, I have to interview, and I have to be selected,’” explains Baile.
All students of every grade are involved and the older grades help integrate kindergarten students to understand the program. The MicroSociety runs 9 out of the 10 months of the school year as September is dedicated to students deciding on the role they’d like to be in the society.
However, the MicroSociety is not all shopping, and spa days, the unpleasant parts about real society have been integrated into the micro one as well. For instance, students learn how to pay taxes, take out loans, pay stingers if they receive a ticket from their police, and they can even go bankrupt.
Brody Mcleod, Grade 4 student, and MicroSociety Minister of Justice was enthusiastic about sharing his experience in the program, “I was Assistant Minister of Justice last year, now I am Minister of Justice this year. I like the responsibility of helping the judges and just getting up there in on all the action. One time, when I was younger, I was a cop and I took somebody to a court case and ever since then I want to be a judge and I want to help out with court cases.”
“We’re taking those skills that they learn in the classroom and then we have them reinforce them in our MicroSociety. It’s not a game for our kids. Our kids are really involved and they think it’s very serious because they have power, the power to work, to earn money, to save money, and to buy things,” added Baile.
The MicroSociety covers almost all current curriculums and gets students to apply their knowledge practically in their small society while developing other skills that will be applicable in their futures. With further implementation in other schools, students will be excited to learn, grow and become responsible citizens of real society.