From the Head of Middle School

The wonderful Year 8 program (Human Rights Convention, Rural and Hattah) provides a terrific opportunity for students to grow both as individuals and as a collective. Halfway through Year 8, students are beginning to show signs of a new maturation and desire to move forward both academically and socially. We know increasingly that the process of education is not simply about giving students chunks of information to be remembered later in a summative assessment situation – it is also about enabling students to ‘learn how to learn’. This involves giving students opportunities to hear what others have learnt and experienced and then discuss, argue and reflect to gain a greater understanding of its truth for them and why this knowledge is so important. One of the powers of ‘interdisciplinary learning’ is that life’s lessons are not just told to us – they are taught by examples in the ‘everyday’ –­ often most powerfully by everyday people. Listening to others illustrate examples of the basic building blocks of life – food, water, clean air, forests, connection, history, community and sustainability – gives us an appreciation of something much bigger than simply our lives in Melbourne. Last week I had the pleasure of spending a day in Hamilton with a bunch of Year 8 students learning about rural life. I watched as students learnt about many of the things they take for granted in Melbourne, along with the technical insights about diverse topics such as farming, wool production, animal husbandry, history, the power of art, sustainability and they learnt how to live together and support each other. It is believed our removal and disconnect from the earth that sustains us can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing – especially for young people. It is important for students to be outside; feeling the wind, sunshine and rain while getting to know special parts of Victoria. We are privileged to have a wonderful outdoor and interdisciplinary program co-ordinated and run by outstanding staff.

Along with the Year 8 program, there are a lot of other things going on in Middle School. It is often said ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ and as we move into the second half of the year, students and parents have a whole lot of reference points and data to measure how they are travelling. We have had our midyear report and currently the Parent/Student/Teacher meetings which all provide information to support students in terms of their growth throughout Semester 1. The great challenge is to empower young people to see that they can be in control of their growth and the goal setting process as much as anyone else. Getting kids to own their ‘personal growth’ journey is an important, perhaps as we continue to empower students with tools of measurement, data collection and analysis and a belief that careful reflection and feedback driven change is the key growth we may see more and more students achieving the goals they set themselves. The key to moving beyond setbacks is resilience – take stock, correct the problem, learn from it and keep moving forward.

Term 3 travels quickly and it has been great being involved in a wide range of other activities. The Year 9 Safe Party forum was very useful in supporting students and families navigating some tricky parts of growing up, and it is with great anticipation the Year 7s are looking forward to ‘The Enviro’ camp program. At this time of the year students are also reflecting on their winter season of sport which concluded last week. Sport is such a wonderful area of school life that also helps to build a young person’s ability to learn lessons that are often immediate and profound. I would like to thank all students, coaches and parents for their support of the program – it is a highlight of the year for many students. As usual it is a very busy term and I know many kids are looking forward to the oncoming spring and warmer weather.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School