Our critical friend, Dr Phil Cummins, shares some of the findings from a major International Boys' Schools Coalition research project on the nature of character education in schools for boys, of which Scots was a key participant.
During Term 1, The College community participated in a Character Education survey in partnership with the International Boys Schools Coalition (IBSC). The purpose of this survey was to provide the first layer of data in an attempt to orient the College community towards a greater understanding of its practice and pursuit of the Character and Care of our boys.
This week, as a continuation of this process, principal researchers Miss Rachel Yijun and Mr Hugh Ouston, from CIRCLE - The Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity and Leadership in Education, conducted focus group interviews as a means of gaining a richer understanding from parents, staff, and boys in most aspects of College learning community, from Transition to Year 12.
Research suggests the quality of a students' relationships, the structure behind their social processes, and the philosophy that undergirds their collective agency affects how and why we learn in all spheres of life (Elias et. al, 1997). In a broad sense, character education refers to the engagement with core values and virtues and the development of personal traits or character strengths that promote well-being, purpose, and success. Character education includes what happens throughout the College, formally and informally within the: curriculum, co-curricular, character and care, leadership development, physical activity, ceremonies and events, and relationships more generally.
The Research Centre wishes to thank all members of College community who wilfully volunteered their time to contribute to this endeavour. It is highly appreciated and seen as a valued investment in the future lives of our students, contributing to their longitudinal development for the common good.
Mr Toby Castle
Research Officer, Experiential Education and Leadership Development
The Scots Research Office had the privilege of hosting the 2nd Australasian International Boys' Schools Coalition Conference for Teachers New to Boys' Schools, Tuesday 11th - Thursday 13th April. Over thirty teachers from around Australia and New Zealand attended, spanning a range of teaching areas and levels of experience, but sharing a common commitment to excellence in educating boys. Keynote addresses were given by the likes of Dr John Best, former Wallabies physician, Professor John Fischetti, Dean of Education at the University of Newcastle, Dr Phil Cummins and our own Dr Tom Cerni. From the nature of transformational learning in the 21st century, to character development and formation, these addresses proffered the challenge not only know our boys but to also know the world that they are in.
Reflecting upon his experience of the Conference, Science teacher Nick Little commented “All of the keynote speakers were excellent but two stood out to me in particular. Dr Best talked about caring for boys in three areas: mind, body and spirit. In this way we should aim to teach boys holistically. Similarly, Dr Cummins spoke about the need to quantify and measure character development in children and adolescents. I had only imagined this as an abstract concept, but now am convicted of its value and importance for implementing holistic care programs in schools like ours, both now and in the future”.
Attendees also found plenty of time to discuss shared practice in stage-specific groups and participate in elective workshops on a range of issues, from classroom management to differentiation. You can access the keynote addresses and read more about the conference here.
Congratulations are due to Year 3 teacher Mr Stuart Pearson for having his International Boys' Schools Coalition Action Research Project selected as one of the eight best presentations at the 2016 Annual Conference in Vancouver. Mr Pearson's research project, picking up on the conference theme of 'Boys as Global Citizens', was entitled 'The Power of the Stories We Tell: Creating a Multimodal Text to Foster Boys' Engagement with Children's Rights'.
This action research project saw ten Year 5 and 6 boys voluntarily undertake a process of researching, designing and writing a multimodal text. In this initial iteration of the action research cycle, the boys benefited greatly from the writing process, showing greater engagement, interest and understanding of children's rights. By the end of the project, it became clear that it is not enough to merely 'teach' children's rights. Instead, by having boys develop their own projects inspired by a genuine audience, greater understanding, engagement and empathy is engendered.
Mr Pearson was praised for his rigorous data collection, honest reflections on the mixed results of his intervention and understanding of the way action research leads to continuous cycles of improvement. Mr Pearson's work will soon be published on the IBSC's website.
"I am thrilled to have been part of the IBSC Action Research program," said Mr Pearson. "It has been a wonderful experience, injecting enthusiasm and new ideas into my classroom."
Recognition is also due to the College's part-time Research Officer, Dr Caitlin Munday, who played a key role in mentoring Mr Pearson and the other staff participating in the Action Research Program.
Registration for the International Boys' Schools Coalition's annual conference will be live soon. The 22nd Annual Conference will be held in Cape Town 7-10 July 2015. Its theme will be Lessons from Mandiba, celebrating the leadership legacy of Nelson Mandela. For more information, please click here.