From the Principal
What’s the Point of School?
Two weeks ago, I shared some thoughts around the notion of belonging and being part of a community that cares for each other as part of my thinking about how we re-engage as a College family at the beginning of a new year.
As the year gathers momentum and I have spent time visiting campuses, sitting in classrooms, and chatting with students, I have wondered whether our CCG community considers regularly enough the question, “What’s the point of school?” I know that our staff immerse themselves deeply in their planning, professional development, and teaching, to embrace the tenets of our College Strategic Goals for Education, but how do all these facets of our approach to education appear to our students? And what level of understanding do our families and wider community have about all of this?
For as long as there have been schools, people have been asking what the point of them is. Some notable individuals have pondered this very question. In 1947, Dr Martin Luther King presented a lecture entitled, ‘The Purpose of Education’, in which he told his audience that the goal of true education was to develop, “intelligence plus character“, while American philosopher, John Dewey, thought that schools should teach the skills to “take command” of yourself.
Wider society has long grappled with the purpose of schools, from thinking they predominantly exist to impart sufficient knowledge to pass tests or exams, to believing their main function is to nurture students and support them to grow in character.
So, we should ask ourselves the same question and interrogate it in terms of our culture and learning framework. For me, this is where our strategic goals become real and meaningful for us all within a common and shared understanding. We have labelled this, ‘The Learning That Matters’.
Rediscovering the heart of education
Cognitive scientist, and author of over 30 books on psychology and education, Professor Guy Claxton, wrote a book titled “What’s The Point of School? – Rediscovering the Heart of Education”.
In his book, published in 2008, Professor Claxton outlined the challenges that lay ahead of educators back then. He was provoking schools to challenge their thinking beyond the assumptions of the time and to look at the need for fundamental change.
Thankfully for our community, Professor Claxton has been a significant influence on the growth and development of our thinking at Christian College. We have indeed been privileged to have Guy visit us on several occasions to speak and work with our staff, and most significantly interact closely in learning spaces with our students. His firsthand experiences at Christian College enabled us to receive specific feedback and encouragement around our work with our students. We have benefitted greatly from his work as we have framed our strategic goals with broad and lofty intentions to support each student to become the best version of themselves.
If we consider some of the key aspects of Professor Claxton’s influence on our learning culture, and indeed factors that have influenced education worldwide, some key points that we should clearly understand and keep front of mind are:
Education above all is a preparation for life
Young people can be highly stressed. They live in a complex world that demands high levels of cognitive and emotional expertise. Education should develop these personal resources.
School is not a production line and young people are not endowed with a fixed quantity of intelligence, but they have expandable and fillable minds.
Minds are like bodies and can get fitter with a combination of training of habit and attitude.
Rather than considering skills of learning or thinking, students benefit more from the development and growth of traits or dispositions that mould character for a learning age.
Professor Claxton suggests that a confident learner possesses eight such traits, termed the “Magnificent Eight”.
- Curiosity: wondering and questioning
- Courage: being resilient and ‘up for a challenge’
- Exploration: researching and evaluating information
- Experimentation: practising, tinkering, and improving
- Imagination: productive fantasy, intuition, and mental rehearsal
- Reason: thinking carefully and critically
- Sociability: balancing independence and collaboration
- Reflection: being strategic, standing back and taking stock
Teachers need to cultivate these qualities at the centre of everything they do, and they must value learning capacity. Professor Claxton calls teachers, ‘curators of learning.’ They curate through the language they use, the clarity they provide around the quality that is being strengthened, the giving of greater responsibility to students for selecting, organising, and evaluating their own learning, and provision of an environment that invites exploration and supports independent learning. Alongside that, teachers need to be a positive role model of the same learning characteristics.
Parents can help students grow in capacity and confidence by avoiding counterproductive habits of praising their child for every small achievement or continually telling them how smart they are. It has been found that these habits breed vulnerable and anxious children. We should all, whether parents, teachers or employers, create conditions in which a person’s capacity to be tenacious, creative, and reflective, emerges and grows.
I am proud of the work my colleagues have done to create our Strategic Goals for Education. I encourage you to read them to understand more about the intentional focus we have, and to explore more about what we believe the point of school to be.
The Strategic Goals for Education stem from our College Philosophical Statement and are underpinned by our five College Values of Faith, Hope, Truth, Grace, and Love. The following statement opens the document:
At the end of their journey at Christian College, students will be prepared to make a positive difference in the lives of others through ‘Good Work’ that is excellent, ethical and engaged in local, national and global contexts.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift from God – not by works, so that no-one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2: 8-10
Our clear Strategic Goals for Education cover five key areas:
- Encouraging, Nurturing and Modelling Christian Faith
- Quality Effective Teaching
- Building Capacity to Learn
- Our Learning Environments
- Our Thriving Community
You can read the detail and specific aspects of how we seek to achieve these goals on this website page. (CCG homepage > Discover > The Learning That Matters). You can also learn more here about the Global Competencies that inform our approach and aim to equip students with skills and dispositions to use and influence our world positively.
The point of school will always be debated. But for now, we are well positioned as a community with a clear reference point and purpose for education at Christian College Geelong.
I am delighted with the way the year has begun. It has been wonderful to meet some of our new students and to see many familiar faces around the campuses. Three weeks into Term 1 and there is already clear evidence of happy students, engaging in the learning that occurs in the classroom, via a range of other routines and activities at school, and at camps and sporting events.
I must say it is a joy!
From the Head of Campus
Teachers as Learners
Just as students come to school to participate in their learning so do our teachers. At Junior School staff come together on a regular basis to discuss, read about, and share current and contemporary practices in education so that this best practice can be implemented with our students. Teachers at Junior School very much see themselves as learners working together using high impact teaching strategies to improve student achievement.
Jenni Donohoo from the University of Windsor states “When educators believe in their collective ability to lead the improvement of student outcomes, higher levels of achievement result” (Donohoo, 2018). This collective efficacy reflects the simple idea that the efforts of staff will have a positive effect on students. To this end, staff at Christian College’s Junior School regularly participate in ongoing professional development that links to our College’s strategic goals for teaching and learning which are:
- Encouraging, Nurturing and Modelling Christian Faith
- Quality Effective Teaching
- Building Capacity to Learn
- Our Learning Environment
- Our Thriving Community
Staff at Christian College are committed to being lifelong learners and as Gerhard Fischer, Director of the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Design, states “Lifelong learning is an essential challenge for inventing the future of our societies; it is a necessity rather than a luxury to be considered … It is a mindset and a habit for people to acquire”. As staff at Junior School, we look forward to continuing as both teachers and learners with our students.
From the Junior School Chaplain…
The Challenge of School Refusal
If you struggle to get your child to school at the beginning of the year, you are not alone.
School refusal is a common struggle that parents and children, at some stage in their school years, face when returning to school after a good holiday.
What are the causes of school refusal and what can be done about it?
According to Ketchell (2018: p.6), school refusal can be caused by a variety of complex factors and there is not one specific factor to blame. It is therefore a struggle that can take a lot of parents’ energy and time to deal with. Luckily, there are good strategies that demonstrate how to have an efficient impact in addressing this challenge when returning to school
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
- Set up clear and consistent routines: Prepare your child mentally in the morning to go to school, make it an exciting part of the day
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Mindfulness practices and informal conversations can reveal a lot of what is the thought process of each child and potential triggers
- Exposure therapy: Taking the child to school despite you knowing that it will be a struggle, or that they may not remain at school for the duration of the day is a good approach to help them get used to the idea and eventually adapt to the routine
- Take a kind but firm approach
- Give clear and consistent messages: Being prepared for what your child usually responds to or verbalise will facilitate for them to understand the routine.
- Engage the system – contact the Chaplain and your child’s Homeroom Teacher to work out strategies for your child.
Please check the reference list for more helpful and extensive resources in how to address school refusal issues.
Ketchell, M 2018, The Conversation, So your child refuses to go to school, Here’s how to respond, https://theconversation.com/so-your-child-refuses-to-go-to-school-heres-how-to-respond-98935
Hayne, D 2006, Practitioner’s guide to Evidence-Based Psychotherapy, School Refusal, Chapter 60,< https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-0-387-28370-8_60#citeas>
Kids Matter Australia 2015, Understanding School Refusal, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzxmeVRTjwU>
What’s Happening at Junior School
Week 4, Monday Feb 21:
Wednesday Feb 23 – Year 4 Parent Device Information Session (please refer to Edsmart information)
Thursday Feb 24 – Beach Prep (PB, PG, PM, PR)
Week 5, Monday Feb 28:
Monday February 28 – Emergency & Lockdown Drills
Tuesday March 1 – Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day
Friday March 4 – Assembly, 4R Class Item
Week 6, Monday March 7:
Thursday March 10 – Beach Prep (PB, PG, PM, PR)
Week 7, Monday March 14:
Monday March 14 – Public Holiday (Labour Day – No School)
Tuesday March 15 – Student Learning Conferences (details to follow)
Wednesday March 16 – Preps attend school in lieu of Public Holiday
Thursday March 17 – Student Learning Conferences (details to follow)
The Joy of School in Prep
Prep! We have completed Week 3 and enjoyed 12 days of school.
It’s such a joy to see the delight in learning new things. Whether it’s cutting a straight line, identifying a number or blending sounds to make a word – our wonderful Prep students are sharing in joy. We’ve been to the beach, met our Year 4 buddies, made new friends and reveled in the treats of the canteen. These first few weeks of school have introduced new concepts and ideas that provide a foundation for our little people’s schooling.
It’s lovely to be a part of this journey and share in the pride that each student feels throughout the day. During a targeted teaching group this week a number of students were attempting to blend sounds to read words. The level of excitement was high and when a student was able to decode a word there was a buzz. It reminded me of the importance of celebrating the little wins and remembering how simple life can be. Our lives can be so busy and filled with things to do and places to be but taking the time to find joy and stop to celebrate the little wins is … totally worth it! It’s refreshing and “A cheerful heart is good medicine …” Proverbs 17:22.
I’m encouraged by the little things that give my Prep students joy. It’s worth celebrating and I’m encouraged to do the same with my family, with my colleagues and with myself.
A Flying Start in Year 2
The Year 2 cohort have continued to settle into the school year and are approaching all tasks with enthusiasm and vigor. Tuesday afternoons are becoming one of our favorite times of the week when we come together for our Masterclass sessions. The premise of Masterclass is that all children have ‘genius’ in them and are masters of their own learning. These sessions typically begin with students being presented with a problem or a challenge. Students are provided with a range of resources to assist them in tackling these predominately collaborative challenges. Predictions and hypotheses are made about what will happen, discussion is generated and lots of fun is to be had by all! Each week the children have approached their learning during Masterclass with enthusiasm and are eager to explore new ideas and ways of creating, collaborating and communicating.
This week we conducted experiments that were linked to our current Integrated Studies unit, Chemical Science. The children were investigating the possibility of making raisins dance in liquid and how to best execute this. Carbonated water and still water were poured into cups and raisins were dropped into cups. The reaction was noted with great anticipation by everyone however there was not much dancing action to be seen in either cup of water!! This was met with a lot of disappointment, however great discussion and many theories were generated as to why this was the case. The children also realised through their learning that not all experiments have the outcome you expect, and that is another way to enhance and develop our knowledge and understandings.
The children are eagerly looking forward to their next Masterclass session when they will enjoy the benefits of working together to solve problems.
What We’re Loving In Library
In recent times we have added three wonderful picture books to our library,
All three books touch on the topic of marine habitats, the importance of our ocean and plastic pollution but use different methods to bring attention to this important message.
- Saving Seal, written by Diane Jackson Hill, illustrated by Craig Smith and published by Museum Victoria. This local author from the Bellarine Peninsula has set her story in Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. Saving Seal is about a girl and her grandpa keeping watch over a friendly seal in their local bay. They rescue it each time it gets tangled in floating rubbish and try to work out a plan to prevent it happening again.
- The Tale of the Whale written by Karen Swann, illustrated by Padmacandra, and published by University of Queensland Press. This lyrical journey brings wonder, discovery and friendship. Where land becomes sky and the sky becomes sea, I first saw the whale and the whale first saw me…
- Walk of the Whales by Nick Bland, published by Little Hare. Nick Bland is a popular Australian author and illustrator in our Library. In this book the whales leave their home in the ocean to walk around on land. A young girl decides to ask the whales why they have come out of the ocean and into the cities and towns….
Checkout these Picture Books next time you are in the Library.
What is a computer? Am I safe online? How has technology changed?
This term in Digital Technology, students are continuing to build their knowledge and understandings about how to safely use our devices (computers, iPads, tablets) when exploring online topics while also discovering how computer technology works and what that involves.
Each week during Digital Technology classes, students alternate between an ‘unplugged’ device free activity and working on the Surface Go devices. The learning from the unplugged activities helps us to build our knowledge about how computers work and how to navigate a digital platform.
I’m so excited to be working with and learning with the fabulous classes at Junior School. Each year level has made a wonderful start to the term and it’s fantastic to see all the students engaged and excited about their digital learning and indeed, the digital world.
Tinker Time Tuesday!
This week saw the beginning of the Junior School Tinker Club for 2022. Students from all year levels were invited to visit the Club House at lunchtime to engage in tinkering activities. We used our imagination and curiosity to create, build and take apart various tinker inventions, as well as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) kits and Meccano engineering and robotics models.
Students collaborated with Ms Rae to decide on the four rules of Tinker Club, which are:
- Always be safe and use the tools for their purpose
- Always share with others
- Always pack up after yourself
- Always have fun!
Tinker Club is a safe space where students can be curious and free to play with and alongside children from different year levels. We are looking forward to the exciting times ahead together in Tinker Club.
Dance Club commenced this week and what a fabulous first session! It was wonderful to see so many students across all year levels come along for a boogie. Dance Club will be on every Wednesday lunchtime in the chapel. I can’t wait to see all the groovers there again next week!
Year 3/4 Netball & Run Club
Netball News –
This week, our amazing Year 3/4 Netball team kicked off a wonderful start to the season! Coaches Mrs Nicole Riddle & Ms Nicole Mayes led the girls to a wonderful and well played game down at Kardinia Park.
We look forward to seeing the talent of our College shine through on the court.
Run Club –
This morning we had eight Year 4 students come to school at 8.15am to kick off Run Club for this year. The invitation is open for any Year 4 students on Friday morning to come along to practise for the cross country. We are looking forward to offering other opportunities for different year levels throughout the year. Well done to Isabel, Katelyn, Berry, Amelia, Amelie, Ethan, Dalton and Xander.
eSafety Parent and Carer Webinars
Parents and carers of our students have access to a range of eSafety webinars made available by the eSafety Commissioner throughout the year.
eSafety’s free webinars provide parents and carers with the knowledge, skills and tools to support children to have safe, positive online experiences.
I encourage all parents and carers in our community to explore these webinar offerings and register for events that are relevant to you. The link is below:
Camp Australia – Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) – Find out More!
Christian College partners with Camp Australia to make out-of-school-hours care (OSHC) available. Camp Australia wants to ensure that new families starting school this year know that they are there to help them and their children settle into school.
To make the process easier for these families, and to answer any questions they may have about OSHC, we are hosting free virtual parent information sessions. Please see the attached document for details.
MYTERN at Christian College
Schools throughout Australia have been seeking ways to support students with the challenges that can be faced with daily life.
Christian College has been delighted to establish a working relationship with Dr Jane Foster over several years, who has developed a language that schools are adopting to assist and equip students to ‘Take Emotional Responsibility Now’. ‘MYTERN’.
Here is a link to the website – mytern.com.au
I encourage you all to take the time to look at this information. It is valuable for anyone with children, including adolescents, as MYTERN has had great success with adults as well as children.
Students will hear references to the language and have opportunities to explore more about MYTERN with their teachers and we will be regularly sharing a “MYTERN Message” in the Vine for families to read and perhaps discuss together as part of your own partnership in supporting our young people.
Here is this week’s MYTERN Message.
We all experience times when we feel that we are being left out….and that no-one seems to want to share their road with us. That’s ok. It’s often more about how they are feeling, rather than a reflection on you. Slow down, pull over and focus on a tree, a flower, the sky. Try thinking of someone who may be feeling the same way. Let them know that they are not alone…and that no road lasts forever 😊