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 Senior School
Our week was punctuated with an awesome day at Landy Field on Wednesday for our House Athletics Carnival. Whilst speed, endurance, strength and skill were all on show, so too were the qualities of teamwork, encouragement, sacrifice and participation. Congratulations to Burrows House for taking the overall points, but I also want to congratulate all students who participated on the day and thank the staff for their efforts to ensure students had such an enjoyable experience.
The term really feels like it is in full swing now and we are looking forward to a number of activities next week including Year 11 Outdoor Education trips to the Otways and interschool cricket and tennis events. Next Tuesday evening we are also hosting an online welcome event for new families to Senior School. Information was communicated via email earlier this week.
As I mentioned last week, our College and House Prefects have already started to serve the Senior School community through various activities and initiatives. We will have an opportunity to formally invest our 2022 leaders at the Prefect Investiture Service on Friday, March 4th at 8.55am in the new R.W. Gibson Music Centre here at Senior School. In accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines, only the Year 12 cohort and prefect parents and guardians will be able to attend. Invitations will be sent to the families of College and House Prefects early next week.
Speaking of prefects, I am delighted to be able to announce that the Senior School captains for 2022, chosen from our group of College Prefects, are Sophie Potter and Nathan Tarrant. Sophie and Nathan were both humbled and honoured to accept these important positions of responsibility. Our community is blessed to have such a fine array of young men and women to choose from and I know that Sophie and Nathan will be well-supported by the other College and House Prefects in leadership and service to our College this year.
Important Dates for Senior School
Tuesday 22 February – Year 12 English SAC (1.50 – 3.30 pm)
Tuesday 22 February – Online welcome evening with new families 7.30 pm
Monday 28 February – Year 11 Presentation Ball online information session (Invitation forwarded next week)
Friday 4 March – Prefect Investiture Service
Tuesday 8 March – International Women’s Day (more information to be communicated)
Monday 14 March – Labour Day Holiday
Tuesday 15 March – Student Learning Conferences online – Student free day (10.30 – 7.00 pm)
Thursday 17 March – Senior School House Swimming Carnival
2022 Senior House Athletics Carnival
A warm and overcast day made for an excellent athletics carnival this Wednesday. The day saw all four houses battle it out for the trophy, but ultimately it was Burrows that took out the 2022 championship, followed closely by Penman in 2nd place, Taylor coming 3rd and Flynn in 4th place.
It was great to see so many students actively involved and encouraging each other. Some highlights for the day included:
- Year 12 students Bethany Dean taking out the fastest female on campus and Oscar Murdoch the fastest male on campus.
- Penman and Burrows sharing equal 1st place in the Tug of War Championship.
- Seeing our Year 12s lead the way in participation of field, track and novelty events.
Due to a tight schedule, we did not get a chance to announce the year level champions on the day. We look forward to presenting these medallions and recognising these athletes when we meet again at the swimming sports carnival on Thursday, 17 March 2022.
Year 10 Product Design and Technology Textiles – Upcycling
Year 10 Product Design and Technology Textiles students started the year by brushing up on their construction skills through the creation of some small textile items. They are now working on a design task with a sustainability focus to develop beach gear from discarded towels. Students have the additional challenge of using all leftover material to make other functional products. It is preferable that they make their own fasteners using technologies available at school. Design innovation and creativity is expected. Students have made an impressive start to their developmental folio work and are now in the process of learning fashion illustration in readiness to create their individual design option drawings.
Library Lover’s Week
Monday began the week of celebrating all things Library with Library Lover’s Week. The theme this year is “Show the Love” and the Library has some wonderful fiction and non-fiction books on display that certainly fits this theme. The Year 10 Reading classes have been encouraged to contribute to our giant love heart with their own personal affirmation of the things they love about the Library or generally what they love in life.
With the old saying never judge a book by its cover. Students could also take home a book on a blind date…new fiction was wrapped up and it was a going to be a chance encounter as to what the book would be about. It could have been the new Max Gawn autobiography, Trent Dalton’s Love Stories or the new fantasy Only a Monster which has been described as captivating and unique!
It’s a week to remember that our libraries are a place where we can get lost in an idea, find an adventure, discover more about an issue we feel passionate about or get help from someone about a topic we want to explore. These are all the reasons (and more) to celebrate the valuable roles libraries play in our lives and to re-engage with our libraries and ‘Show the Love’.
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:
You will find attached the Events calendar for next week. We hope that you find these events helpful. Don’t forget to look in the parent portal in SEQTA Engage for our CAREERS section. There is a lot of important information sitting there for students and parents.
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 😊