Hero photograph
Mr Skinners class -  wish you were here
Photo by SBHS

A Trip to the City.

Mike Skinner —

Mr Keats and Mr Skinner, 2018 year 11 Geography teachers, wanted their boys to gain first-hand knowledge about the Christchurch 2010/2011 earthquakes for their upcoming NCEA external exams.

So we arranged a trip to the Canterbury Museum’s Earthquake Exhibition – Quake City. 

However after we surveyed the boys in the classes, they realised another problem. That was, since the earthquakes and the lack of a real CBD, only six out of 60 students had paid anything more than a fleeting visit to our city’s CBD. 

Our current students, who were eight and nine years old when the earthquakes struck, had little or no memory of the city centre as it once was. 

They knew little of the past, what the earthquake had done to the heart of our city and nothing of the new opportunities that existed in the ever-changing Christchurch CBD. They did know a lot about what the earthquake had done to their homes and families, as many lived in the Residential Red Zone, our school zone, in the aftermath of the earthquakes.

We planned a field trip that wasn’t just a museum information gathering visit. It ended by being an 18 stop tour around the CBD. Taking a normal bus service (the 60) that travelled from right on our front door to one of the first anchor projects completed in the CBD – the Bus Interchange! This is a short walk to the first stop, were a respectful and reverent remembrance at Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial saw all students and teachers lay a daffodil to symbolise our thoughts and hope for the future. After paying our respects, we walked down the new Avon River Promenade, then onto Quake City (EQ exhibition), through to Gap Filler HQ (a community run organisation helping the community re-engage with the CBD, through a large number of very different projects) to the ruins of the Christchurch Cathedral, to Margaret Mahy Playground, to commercial developments (One Central), public art installations (Scape Public Art) and many other amazing things to showcase the past, present and future to the future on our rebuilding city.

When walking around the city, our teenage boys were like tourists in a strange place – phones were out, taking photos, questioning and querying at every stop, and statements of where are going next. So engrossed in the tour, on the second day, there was not one mention of the conditions – a chilly, overcast nine degree day and a cold SW wind pushing the wind chill down to make the day feel three degrees, and even a few showers hitting us. Then, even a number of boys asking to keep the workbook (over handing it in), so they could share the itinerary and route on it with family members and take them around the same route.

The heart of this field trip ended up hitting the over-arching goal of the Social Sciences. That is, to get our students participating as critical, active, informed and responsible citizens. Where contexts are drawn from the past, present and future. i.e. discussions had about the value of art in an EQ damaged city, when other parts of the city would have like the money spent on repair and rebuild, the sobering experience of visiting the CTV site where 115 people lost their lives, but also realising the power of healing and engaging in the heart of the city to build it back up.