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!
What’s Happening at Middle School
Week 4, Monday 21st February 2022
Thurs 24th Feb – Deakin District Tennis (Yr5&6)
Thurs 24th Feb – Senior Tennis & Cricket v GGS
Fri 25th Feb – Year 5 Parent Cuppa and Tour Morning – Cancelled
Week 5, Monday 28th February 2022
Mon 28th Feb – CCG Surfing Championships
Tues 1st Mar – GISSA Cricket & Tennis Championships
Thurs 3rd Mar – Deakin District Summer Carnival (Yr5&6)
From the Head of Campus
Dear Parents and Guardians,
With the new school year well underway, it has been wonderful to see a number of our Middle School students adopting the new wardrobe and wearing it well. There are, of course, many of our students wearing the original uniform, and it has again been great to see the majority of these students doing so neatly and respectfully.
In light of the fact that we have both the original uniform and new wardrobe options present on our campus, it is timely to remind parents and students of our College Wardrobe Regulations. The most important thing we are expressing to students with regards to uniform is that, regardless of which option they have chosen, they wear it well and wear it appropriately. Furthermore, anything that is not a part of our College Student Wardrobe Policy should not be visible. This includes clothing items as well as jewellery, piercings, cosmetics and hairstyles beyond those permitted in our College Wardrobe Regulations.
We appreciate the partnership we have with parents in guiding students to wear the uniform as outlined in the Student Wardrobe Policy as this is an important part of building a positive school identity and culture. Please find attached here the Christian College Student Wardrobe Policy for your reference.
Year 7 Camp
This week has seen the Year 7 classes at Cave Hill Creek near Beaufort, for their 3-day camp. Students were challenged in a range of activities including canoeing, abseiling, raft building, crate stacking, archery and hut building. It was great to see the students extend themselves while working cooperatively and offering encouragement to others.
The students were arranged into mixed-homeroom groupings, allowing students to meet and get to know others from outside of their regular class. One of the key aims of the camp was to develop the cohort socially, and it was pleasing to see the shoots of new friendships emerging. This culminated in a “decathlon” as the final activity which saw the “tribes” pitted against each other in a relay of mini events. They were passionately competitive, showing great collective efforts, and was a lovely way to finish the camps.
We have a valued and longstanding relationship with Cave Hill Creek, and I offer many thanks to the staff for facilitating such a fantastic program.
Impressive Explorations in new Year 8 Digital Technologies Elective
It has been wonderful to observe the enthusiasm and engagement of students in this new elective subject in Year 8 recently. These students have elected to study this semester-long Digital Technologies subject in addition to their core Digital Technologies subject and their enjoyment of the class is very evident.
Having visited this class several times, I have been impressed each time with the students’ level of initiative and self-direction. Facilitated by their teacher, Mr Danon O’Kelly, students enjoy significant scope to explore coding and take their projects as far as time, imagination and skill allow them.
Recently these students explored a range of ways that the BBC Micro:bit can be programmed using the Python programming language for a variety of purposes, with each student or group selecting their own area of interest for exploration as they developed their coding skills.
Year 5 Geelong Excursion
On Friday 18th February, the Year 5 cohort was privileged to embark on an excursion down to the Geelong Waterfront, the locations, based on our Story of Geelong English and Humanities units were: The Geelong Bollards, The Geelong Gaol and The Wool Museum.
The insightful, engaging, and fun activities that were presented allowed the students to learn through experiencing these locations and linked into their studies of the history of Geelong. With the large cohort, it was a fantastic opportunity for all students to mingle with students from other classes. This allows for students to develop friendships across the whole Year 5 2022 group.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Geelong Gaol group, in which students were able to immerse themselves in the lives of prisoners from the 1800’s. Students entered cells of convicts, walked the stairs to a guard tower and even heard tales of prisoners escaping. The students were captivated, this could be seen with the fantastic array of questions that were being asked by the students.
Following this, students went down and had lunch at Eastern Beach, in which they were able to play on the playground and relax after reaching the end of week 3! We then returned to our respective grades and with the support of the amazing staff that helped the Year 5 team, we went walking along the waterfront and studied the bollards in preparation of their upcoming bollards narrative for English.
The Year 5 team would like to thank all staff that came along and supported the teachers and students in what was a fantastic, successful day.
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:
2022 CCG Tennis Championships
One of our College’s most popular sporting events – the CCG Tennis Championships – lived up to its reputation again in 2022.
Riding on the momentum of the recent Australian Open, our yearly Tennis Titles held at Geelong Lawn Tennis Club drew a huge following this year, and it was certainly a night to remember for our students.
Not only did we have nearly 60 students from three campuses participate in the Championships, but there was also a significant number of staff involved in the event – either playing or spectating – along with lots of parents which created a lively, feel-good atmosphere.
Due to the high volume of entries, the format for this year’s Championships was broken down into three Divisions – a Junior Male Singles Draw, a Female Singles Draw and a Senior Male Singles Draw, all played under knock-out rules.
Once a student lost their match and was eliminated from the Singles Draw in their Age Section, they then played in Double Matches, often against staff members or parents.
The students relished this opportunity to interact with their teachers and parents in a unique way, allowing them to see a different side of the people who take care of them every day, and vice-versa.
These Doubles Matches continued throughout the night on the back courts, as crunch time for the Main Singles Draws brought the big finals to the front show courts.
Business really picked up late in the evening when Year 10 Burrows student Ilija Sasic squared off against another Bear, Year 11 student Aaron Hanson, in one of the most entertaining semi-finals in the event’s history.
Ilija eventually triumphed in a match both students should be very proud of, earning the right to take on fellow Year 10 Rhys McNabb, who advanced to the Final by beating Year 10 Taylor student Anthony Williams in another engrossing semi.
While Ilija and Rhys caught their breath and prepared for the all-Burrows Final, the crowd turned their attention to the Senior Female Final which pitted the top two seeds in the Draw against each other, Year 11 Kirrily McConachy from Burrows and Isabella Henry from Flynn House.
In the end it was Kirrily who etched her name onto the ‘Jon Ryan Perpetual Trophy’ once again, showing her trademark class and tenacity, however a big congratulations should also go to Isabella who made her opponent earn every point in the Final and showed why both she and Kirrily will be important leaders of our College Tennis Team at the GISSA Championships in Week 5.
Next to these two girls on the other show court, Kirrily’s younger brother – Year 7 Bellarine Campus student Stefan McConachy – and Year 8 Highton Campus student Max Gear provided an exciting glimpse into the future with a highly-competitive Final in the Junior Male Division.
Congratulations to Max for emerging victorious, however he was pushed all the way by Stefan and we certainly look forward to watching these two rising stars play against each other in future tournaments.
The stage was then set for Ilija and Rhys to return and finish the night, and the two Burrows students didn’t disappoint, engaging in a fitting climax that ebbed and flowed over the course of a 45-minute battle.
Rhys jumped out to a big lead early, however Ilija ground down to mount a fighting comeback that pushed the one-set match all the way before Rhys tipped the sea-saw back in his favour to close out the win.
It was the second time a “McNabb” made its way onto the Jon Ryan Trophy, with Rhys continuing the family tradition first started by his brother Luke’s win back in 2018.
The Sport Faculty would like to express a huge thank you to every student who participated in this year’s event for making it such a success, as well the staff from all different campuses and departments who came after hours to support our young people – especially Mr Jonathan Ryan (pictured) who was on hand to award the trophy named in his honour to our top female and male player for 2022.
However this night could not have happened without three people in particular – our College Head Tennis Coach, Mr Sam Nichols, and our Head of Sport Faculty, Mr Andrew Richardson, who prepared the event, and also Mr John McConachy from the Geelong Lawn Tennis Club (GLTC) who kindly gave the College access to over 15 courts to run this event, as well as the rest of their ideal facilities.
Our College is truly lucky to have this association with John and his team at the GLTC, and our students, families and staff truly appreciate the opportunities provided by this great Club.
We are already looking forward to the 2023 instalment of the CCG Tennis Championships!
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 😊
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.