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 Surf Coast
(These dates may change, so please check the calendar and VINE regularly for updates.)
February 22nd – Twos Day
February 23rd – Snack Shop starts
March 1st – Beach Prep
March 1st – Shrove Tuesday
March 3rd – Parent Helper Training session
March 4th – Assembly Bible Presentation
March 11th – Year 3 & 4 Swimming sports (Kardinia Pool)
March 14th – Labour Day Holiday
March 16th Preps attend school
March 18th – Assembly Leaders induction
March 22nd – Beach Prep
March 23rd – Parent meet and greets
March 25th – Assembly
March 31st Year 3 & 4 Athletic Sports (Bellarine Campus)
April 7th – Annual Surf Coast Cross Country
April 8th Easter Bonnet Parade/ Easter Service and last day of term.
More events will be added once excursions etc are booked and finalised.
Preps Head to the Beach!
With our hats and sunscreen on, the Surf Coast Preppies made their way down to Cosy Corner to enjoy their first ever Beach Prep session. The weather was just glorious, and many happy memories were made.
The Preps enjoyed building sandcastles, collecting shells and seaweed, and digging deep into the sand to discover water!
With sandy toes and big smiles on faces, the bus ride back was filled with excited conversations about the fun afternoon that was enjoyed thoroughly by all.
We love learning in Prep!
What wonderful learning the Surf Coast Preps have been taking part in over the following week.
In Literacy, the Preps have been learning a new word and sentence a week, which have been the words ant and cat. They made their very own clay model of an ant, as well as a cat in the hat craft.
In reading groups, the Preps have been focusing on pointing to each word as they read, as well as understanding the story and looking at the beginning, middle and end.
The preps comprehended the story of the ‘Miniscule ant’. They verbally explained the struggle the characters go through and drew their favourite part of the story.
In Maths this week, we have explored the different ways number collections can be shown through subitizing. The Preps have also been working with numbers to 10, where they have been connecting number names and quantities.
Year 1 – Who is Jesus
Year 1 has started the year by revisiting ‘who is Jesus?’ Class conversations, Devotions and lessons have focused on their relationship with Jesus and how this is special and unique. They have been reflecting on what it feels like to have faith in Jesus and are beginning to discover the role that they have, as Christians, to share about Jesus and understand that following Jesus is worth more than anything in the world!
Who is Jesus?
He is love, and He is my friend
He is loving and kind, and caring.
He is my friend, and He is loving and super-kind.
He is The Thorn of Love. He always cares about people even when they do things that are not very nice.
He is a child of God.
He is The Messiah and The Lord of Lords.
He is The Lord of Bread. He gives us what we need.
He is God, and He will never leave us.
He is The Lord. He is nice, and I love being His friend.
He is a helper. He helps people and is always kind to us.
Jesus can do anything. He is The Animal King because He cares and looks after all the animals in the world. He can heal them.
He is The Cross. Jesus represents God.
He is The Glory of God. He is kind and caring.
He is a protector of the world and heals people.
He is The Son of God and helps people when they are scared.
He is The Saviour of the World and a prince of peace.
He is the Great High Priest and he loves us.
He is a friend of sinners because He loves us even if we are bad sometimes.
He is a mighty God and he loves us.
He is The Son of God and the light of everything.
The guinea pigs are back! Pikachu, Aussie and Choc Brownie were expertly cared for over the holidays by one of our wonderful Surf Coast families. They must have spent the break feasting at every opportunity as they have returned looking healthy and so much larger than when they left in December last year.
Our very experienced Year 3 students, last year’s guinea pig custodians, have been assisting the Year 2 students with the care and handling of our furry critters. Soon enough the Year 2 students will assume complete responsibility for the guinea pigs. The students will be changing water, topping up the feed bowl, cleaning out the hutch and sneaking in some snuggles with their class pets.
The children are devising a roster to share their time with the guinea pigs at recess and lunchtimes. Every Year 2 student will have the opportunity to spend a recess and a lunchtime with the guinea pigs every fortnight. There is much excitement amongst the students and it is wonderful to see them taking on this new responsibility with such enthusiasm.
This Week (Fortnight) in Year 3
After a somewhat staggered start we finally got a full class in year three on the last day of week two!
Nonetheless, we haven’t wasted any time with this dynamic group as we have dived into our science investigation about changing states of matter, Year 3 and 4 sport and conducting maths chance experiments. Yes, I know that some of the photos look like we are having a campfire and playing games of two-up, but I promise there was some incredible learning and discussion points among these activities!
Year 3 and 4 have begun some cross-level activities, which has provided amazing experiences for both levels. This will continue throughout the year. As a side, you may have noticed that there was no entry for year 3 in last week’s Vine. For term 1 at least, year 3 and 4 will be alternating entries each week.
We have a lot to look forward to this term with cross campus athletics, easter bonnet parade, twos-day and our adventure to the chocolate factory, so stay tuned and keep an eye on The Vine!
Year 1 Japanese
The Year 1 students started the new term by learning about せつぶん (Setsubun), the traditional event that the Japanese typically celebrate for the beginning of the new season of spring on February 3rd. On this day, families with little children in Japan throw beans and call out おにはそと！ふくはうち！(Bad luck out! Happiness in!). Another unique way to celebrate the coming of spring is eating a big uncut rolled sushi called えほうまき(Ehoumaki). They eat it while facing a lucky direction which changes each year! After learning the facts about Setubun, the students made own Ehoumaki with coloured paper and pretended to eat it while facing to the north-north-west which is the lucky direction in 2022.
Surf Coast Snack Shop
Next week on Wednesday February 23rd, our Surf Coast Snack Shop will be reopening for business.
The snack shop will be open every Wednesday lunchtime, and to start the year off the menu will be the same as last year.
Popcorn will be available for 50 cents and Frozen Fruit Juice will also be available for 50 cents.
Purchase limits do apply to one of each item per child.
As the year progresses more items will be available on the menu.
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:
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.