Teaching What MattersOver the long weekend, I attended a conference led by a group of educators from the Harvard Faculty of Education and, in particular, enjoyed the keynote address given by “Project Zero” guru, David Perkins. In his lecture, Perkins reminded the audience about the “Expanding Universe of Education” and the challenge for schools and teachers to equip young people to be able to make a worthwhile contribution in a world that is increasingly knowledge rich, connected and fast paced. He challenged us to think about the learning that really matters.
At Lowther Hall this is a question which we consider regularly. We are fortunate in Australia, to now have a national curriculum that, whilst overcrowded, is mostly concerned with relevant questions and which focusses on the acquisition of skills and dispositions. The units of work that are taught from our very youngest year levels all the way to Year 12, are framed around big ideas that we consider important for the girls to wrestle with and consider, and which we hope they will find transferable to the world beyond school.
As well as the subject based curriculum, we are also conscious that we impart to the girls, a curriculum of values, attitudes and qualities which in many ways are the most important. Some of these are articulated in the Australian Curriculum as “personal and social capabilities” – including self-management, self-awareness, social management and social awareness. These are addressed through the Personal and Social Development classes as well as through pastoral time and assemblies. Encouraging each student to develop the Qualities of the Lowther Hall Girl, also assist her in the acquisition of intra and interpersonal skills.
Running through all the learning of the girls’ learning experiences, should also be the development of their capacity to think critically and creatively. Creative thinking is something that parents can support at home through the provision of experiences that allow an imaginative response – such as a trip to the beach to build sandcastles, the creation of an original recipe or the posing of a household problem that requires a solution. Similarly, critical thinking can be supported by asking “why do you think that?” or “why do you think that happened?”
I am confident that this term, our students have once again engaged in a great deal of “learning that matters” and I encourage you to continue to assist the girls to reflect on their learning as they move into the Easterbreak.