Connecting with the Real World

By Amanda Bertschinger,

  Filed under: Senior School

During Term 2, our Senior School students have been given a number of opportunities to connect their current learning with life beyond school.

This has included opportunities for students to participate in music, sporting and career endeavours.

Generations In Jazz was held in Mount Gambier, with bands and choirs competing from around Australia and even a New Zealand entry this year. Our Big Band 1, Big Band 2 and Senior Vocal Ensemble all attended, guided by Cinzia Cursaro and Leith Stutterd. These staff and students make an enormous commitment to rehearsals, perfecting their craft for the competition. Beyond the competition is the amazing opportunity to see world-renowned Jazz musicians perform. For those of you who have never been lucky enough to attend, the sight of 3,000 young people being enthralled by Jazz musicians restores your faith in this generation.

In Week 2, our students turned their focus to Sport, as we competed in the Anglican Cup and a group participated in the Hume Grammar Sporting Exchange to Melbourne. Both of these sporting fixtures are highlights for our students, allowing them to compete against like-minded students, often in sports outside their preferred area. We came second in the Anglican Cup and won the Hume Grammar Exchange.

Career Education has also been a central focus in the first few weeks of this term. Our Year 11s attended the Career and Employment Expo at Adelaide Showground, furthering their understanding of the broad range of careers open to them. Our Year 12s have had a visit from Adelaide University, with a focus on the careers of the future. Finally, our Year 10s have this week completed their Work Experience. This has given them another perspective into the real world. While a few have reported being a little bored at times, the majority have loved the experience. A fresh perspective and a new found respect for the adult world, have hopefully been found.

Thank you to our volunteers who helped with the Mock Interviews today. Our Year 10 students were given the opportunity to apply and be interviewed for a job. This allowed them to practice their interview skills and really consider how their diverse experiences at school are helping them to become work ready.

Finally, today we also farewelled our students to the APY Lands. This annual trip allows Year 10 students to experience Indigenous culture and community, raising their awareness and empathy in what is usually described as a life-changing experience.

In these first four weeks, our Senior School has provided a range of important experiences, nurturing the rigour in the classroom and allowing students to see the connection of their learning to life beyond the classroom.

Leonie Harwood

Deputy Principal

 

Exams and Revision

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

The world owes much to William Butler Yeats, including some wonderful words penned about how the mind moves upon silence – appropriate, I think, given that this article is about examinations – but it is almost certainly true that the above are not the words of the great poet himself, despite what the internet seems to think. It’s been pointed out that the quote was first attributed to Yeats fifty years after he had joined the Dead Poets’ Society and it doesn’t even sound like Yeats anyway, but nonetheless the underlying idea in these fourteen words has proven pervasive. Wrong, but pervasive.

I think – Yeats or not – that the line about pails and fires is in a way still useful to us. I don’t think there are many parents, students, teachers or school leaders who would wish students’ fires not to be lit through their schooling; after all, one of the key purposes of schooling must be to foster a real passion for learning in our students and to encourage them to follow their talents and interests. I think however, the pervasive narrative that this is somehow compromised by requiring students to master content knowledge as well, is somewhat misguided. If we follow the fire-lighting analogy further, it must be said that no fire exists without some form of fuel to sustain it and this is where the connection to content knowledge, mastery of a subject and examinations can be found.

Simply put, examinations are there to test our underlying mastery of a subject. Content knowledge is ‘fuel’ for learning; it is not possible to think critically, to be creative, to be innovative or to investigate thoroughly, without having something to think about. Examinations are neutral and diagnostic; they are the simplest and fairest way to test how well a student understands and can apply subject knowledge. To be sure, the content that an examination tests is limited in scope and is often best complimented by other forms of assessment to build a full picture. Nonetheless it is fundamentally true that mastery of content knowledge allows two things: firstly, it frees up working memory to allow us to engage in higher-order tasks and secondly, it allows us to build our mental schema – our subject repertoire, if you like – and build connections of ever-increasing complexity between topics and subjects.

In general, therefore I am not particularly in favour of cramming, or intensive bursts of revision prior to an examination. True, a degree of freshening-up through revision prior to examinations is necessary, but this should not be the backbone of our revision routine. Short-term memory is a poor proxy for learning and we would be far better served by understanding the mastery of content knowledge as an ongoing habit in the interests of really developing the mind, rather than a short-term stopgap in the dying days of the term.

Revision is therefore a habit, not an activity. This is my advice: plan your revision well and begin early. Start by being objective about what you know and are confident in, for each examined subject and what you are not – this will show you where you need to invest your time. Your teachers will provide revision guides for you and these are an excellent place to start; they will give absolute clarity about what you need to focus on. Be active in your revision; no examination asks you to show your learning through passive activities such as reading or highlighting, so you should be productive in your preparation: practice answering questions instead and quizzing or testing yourself on your knowledge. Above all, be organised. Know when your examinations are, what they will be testing, what sorts of questions you are likely to be asked and how much time you will have.

Lastly, have confidence that this is time well spent. Your stocks of subject ‘fuel’ will sustain your learning throughout your schooling and the good habits you form now will serve you well in the future. Perhaps if Yeats had been more of a motorhead, he might have referred instead to the filling of a tank and the lighting of a fire, but as we’ve seen, he never really wrote like this anyway. Perhaps instead we might look to his words from Long Legged Fly about Caesar, upon whose quiet meditations the future of empire and civilisation itself rested:

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post;
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand under his head.

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

Nick Raimondo

Leader of Curriculum and Learning

 

School Captains Speeches

Please have a read of the following speeches by our 2019 School Vice-Captains, Kaitlyn Howlett and Alex Matters, which were given at assemblies earlier this term:

Originally I was going to solely talk about finding motivation to study by developing a love of learning (which I will cover in a bit), but then I started to think that some people might consider, well why should I have to feel so motivated in the first place? Why not just only value our favourite subjects and ignore those that we enjoy less because we shouldn’t waste time stressing about things that we’re not truly passionate about, right?

For me and for many, Year 12 can often be considered to be all about the ATAR. As such, we tend to base our subject choices on our endeavours to score as highly as possible, some choosing only the ‘safe’ subjects that they think they can do really well in, which is definitely sensible, especially if you’re aiming to study a degree with a particularly high minimum ATAR. However, should high school rather be more about learning as much as you can, especially in areas that may significantly benefit our future endeavours, than only the ranking at the end of Year 12? While in high school, why not utilise the opportunity to challenge yourself, to work really hard and to persevere through subjects that we find difficult? Now obviously Year 12 is a competition and we’ll always be told that it’s important to do as well as we can, but I guess what I’m trying to say is try not to limit yourself or your learning out of fear that you may not succeed in achieving your desired result.

In terms of subject choices especially, there can also be a lot of pressure and talk about the necessity to find your passion as soon as possible and pursue it wholeheartedly, that one must not waste any second in the search. But, challenging yourself in a subject or activity that you don’t find entirely enjoyable may actually be highly beneficial. I don’t believe you have to spend every second of your life only doing your ‘passion’. It’s not a waste of time to struggle through something that doesn’t come easily to you. Yes, it’s important to take the time to do things that you enjoy, but persevering through things that we find difficult may also be just as important and as I will soon mention, we might eventually find that we actually really enjoy the subject after putting in effort. We can learn so much from stepping out of our comfort zones and what better time to challenge ourselves than right now, when we are very fortunate to not have to completely support ourselves financially. It doesn’t matter if we don’t necessarily achieve the celebrated definition of success. Persevering when we don’t understand can help us gain so much knowledge and understanding that we may eventually be able to apply to our passions, even those we may not have identified yet. Also, it’s important to recognise that working hard in subjects that one is not going to continue with in future years, might still help develop skills needed for the subjects they are planning on continuing with.

Now, If you’ve ever battled with procrastination, you may have found yourself wondering, ‘that’s all very well, but how do some people manage to stay so motivated to study?’, ‘how can I force myself to do things I don’t want to do or things that I find challenging because surely nobody loves studying’. I used to just think, well maybe a diligent work ethic is simply ingrained in one’s nature, perhaps some people are just blessed with genetics that predisposes them to easily motivate themselves, or maybe nurture has more influence than nature. While all those possibilities may partly be true, I now realise that some people, myself included, simply study so much because they often really enjoy studying, it is their love of learning that enables them to stay motivated throughout the year. I truly believe that it is possible to condition yourself to enjoy studying. If one is consistently diligent from the beginning, starting from Year 7, it is obviously likely that they will find it easier to learn later on, as they would have consequently developed really strong study habits. And it makes sense that when things are easier, we tend to enjoy doing them more, especially when we are tired and exhausted towards the end of term. A consistent work ethic can, therefore, not surprisingly contribute towards developing a love of learning and is, hence, potentially one of the main reasons as to why some people manage to stay so motivated throughout the year. But in saying that, although consistent diligence is an easier, more straightforward path towards developing a love of learning and thus attaining academic success, it’s also never too late. Putting in the effort towards the end of senior school is still clearly far, far better than not putting in any effort at all.

Personally, I know that if I am struggling to understand a particular topic or concept, I’m usually also in a more negative frame of mind, which makes me far less likely to overcome my difficulties and complete the task. Therefore, I find it really helpful to view the difficult concept as an opportunity to further develop my understanding and learn skills or knowledge that I could utilise in the future.

Every lesson, I walk into the classroom excited to see what I can learn, especially when we start a new topic. Every study line is a chance for me to see how much I can learn or how much I can complete in the time frame.

I believe that accepting that we might not always understand everything, but believing that we can eventually, is likely to result in a better academic performance than if we doubt ourselves and let our fears of failure taint a subject in a negative light. So, for all of you who have zoned out, I guess the take-home message is to be positive, accept challenges and don’t wait until year 12 to develop good study habits, or you’ll find it a lot more difficult and probably also a lot less enjoyable as well.

I endeavour to finish Year 12 having learnt as much as I possibly can. So I encourage you to also try and learn as much as you can, even if you have to force yourself initially because eventually, you might just find that you love learning. So challenge yourselves, as stated by Morgan Freeman, it may be the ‘only path which leads to growth.’

Kaitlyn Howlett

Good Morning everyone,

It was in year 7, when I was sitting down the front there, that I first witnessed a School Captain’s speech. When I saw this, I realised that the captains get 10 minutes of the entire schools undivided attention and I decided that was what I wanted to do.

However, as it grew closer to today, I found myself having less and less of an idea of what I wanted to talk about. You see, I’m a straight white male. I have not faced much hardship, no grand tale of overcoming outnumbering odds – although on Year 9 camp I did have to help Tommy clean his burnt couscous off his trangia.

As well as this, overwhelmingly, I am a last minute, on the run kind of guy – which I never recommend in retrospect but that has never changed my “she’ll be right” attitude before anything. In many instances, this has served me well. I have learnt to think on my feet and adapt to situations. However, this doesn’t always work and in the many weeks leading to today, the greatest extent of my preparation has consisted of hypothetical “I have a dream” moments, profoundly orated in the shower. Never the less, I finally mustered the self-discipline to sit myself down and have a crack at it. And that’s exactly what I want to talk to you all about today: Having a crack at it and getting involved.

It has been a constant aspiration of mine to maintain involvement within as many activities as I possibly can and to do as much as I possibly can. Thus, I concluded that I would be well placed to speak to you about this today.

You see, it takes a great deal of courage to take an initial step to begin something, or to just say yes to something. For myself, I can remember in Year 8 joining the debating team. Now back in Year 8, I was still my boisterous self; however, in many situations I was lacking the confidence to put myself out there and debating was one of these. In Years 6 and 7, I had ummed and ahhd about it, but never thought it was for me. But then in Year 8, I had a crack at it. I had never done this before, I had no real clue what I was getting myself into. But I went into it and gave it my best shot and here I am today, still alive and with a team that has made it to finals on many occasions.

And you know what? I am extremely grateful to my past self for taking that initial step, for having a crack at it. I’ve discovered a passion and something I want to continue with for the remainder of my life.

It’s the same story for me in a multitude of other areas, from grandiose school productions through to hosting my sister’s fundraiser quiz night. I honestly get extremely nervous. But I push myself out there and have a crack at it. There are so many things I simply enjoy doing now because of those initial risks I took.

It’s clear that putting yourself out there can have huge personal benefits. But let’s look a global example of this. Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old Swedish student – like many of us here, she didn’t believe that her country was doing enough to combat the greatest existential threat to face our planet – climate change. Now, Greta didn’t really think she could do much about this, in fact many people thought she was naïve when she decided to leave school and sit outside the Swedish parliament. At least for the first month. Then her fellow students, parents and even teachers began to join her in what at that point, seemed a radical crusade. A mere six months later, Greta is the face of a global movement, with over 1,000 actions occurring in over 100 countries. She’s spoken at the United Nations and written articles for various international publications. So why all of this success? Was it just because she put herself out there and had a crack at it?

Well I lied earlier when I told you that all you needed to do was have a crack at it, because there is a second, vitally important element and it’s something that every one of us will undoubtedly be required to do at some point in our lives and most of you have already needed to. Greta had the support of those around her and was given a chance to succeed.

You see, without that initial catalyst, that spark of a following, the school strike movement would not be as it is today. It’s more than just not putting someone down, it’s more than just not laughing at them when they get it wrong the first time. It’s actually getting around someone and giving them one, two or three chances that makes all the difference.

This isn’t something that is just applied to grand political statements or movements. You see, I lied, through omission, earlier when I stated, “I went into debating and gave it my best shot”, because while this is true, it wasn’t the sole reason I did well. I also had the support of my team and a Mr Eaton who seemed unshakably confident in my ability to perform. If this support was not there, the result would have likely been a shaky performance and possibly a regret.

Now you may be thinking, nah, I’ve never needed to do this, I don’t even do debating. But think about it. I am certain that somewhere in your social network, there is someone who’s having a crack at producing music, someone who’s having a crack at photography, someone who is having a crack at starting a YouTube channel – subscribe to Gazuka. Someone who’s having a crack at learning an instrument, learning a new sport… The list goes on and on.

These people are putting themselves out there and having a crack at it and the one thing that these people need, more than anything, is a chance.

So, I’ve got a challenge for you and honestly, I don’t think I’ve been this nervous before. Now I know its still early, but I’m going to sing a song, that the cultured among you will surely know and it’s up to you; will you sit there and awkwardly cringe to your friend or are you going to give it a chance and join in when you’re supposed to?

Sing: HEYYYYYY HEY BABY

AUDIENCE: OOOH AHH

I WANNA KNOWWWWWW WILL YOU BE MY GIRL?

X2

(If success) Well, wasn’t that enjoyable – you see the impact of giving someone a chance to succeed by supporting them.

(If failure) Well, that was awkward – but fantastic. We know what happens when you don’t give someone a chance to succeed. We all sit here awkwardly wanting to leave as soon as we can.

So whether it be saving the planet from the single greatest ecological catastrophe of our planets history and the possible eventual destruction of life as we know it, or Jarrod and Harry asking “oi you playing footy this Wednesday?”, put yourself out there and say “yes”. Get in there and give it a crack and if you’re there and see this person, support them, lift them up.

To quote Harry Hopton; It is those people that put themselves out there and have a crack at it, that eventually change the world.

But I’d like to extend that. Because it is the people who put themselves out there and have a crack at it that change the world. But it’s you and me, everyone, that needs to give them a chance to do just that.

Alex Matters