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.
Why ‘the system’ doesn’t work for boys: ScotsIdeas with character and relationships expert Dr Rob Loe
The popular ScotsIdeas program of ‘compelling conversations in education’ is back for 2020 with more engaging, relevant and thoughtful voices to help you bring out the best in boys. On 24 February, a sold-out audience of parents and staff enjoyed a compelling conversation about the science and character of relationships in schools.
Dr Rob Loe, former teacher, senior leader and leading academic in the measurement and management of human relationships as CEO of the Relationships Foundation, spoke lucidly about why relationships matter and why we don’t understand them as well as we should. In an age obsessed with social networks, he called for schools and families to invest in ‘relational networks’. ‘Relationships are not about how well you like people, but how well you know them,’ and the foundation for flourishing individuals, communities and nations.
How can we build deeper relational networks in schools? Drawing on ground-breaking research with tens of thousands of school students, teachers and parents around the world, he showed the protective impact of good relationships, and how great schools invest seriously in creating belonging. Four key strategies for improving relationships in schools included:
See below for a full recording of Dr Loe's talk.
Over the past two weeks, the College has been privileged to host eminent Christian scholar, Professor John Stackhouse Jr, Samuel J Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Faculty Development at Crandall University, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Professor Stackhouse began his visit by speaking to all staff with nuance and grace, about the importance of 'vocation', or 'calling' to 'make shalom' and 'make disciples' in our work as a learning community. He explored this notion of vocation in more depth in seminars with each of the Senior School faculties, helping staff make the connections between what we teach (i.e. the subject), how we teach (i.e. the discipline and the pedagogy) and why we teach (i.e. our worldview and values). He also worked with Prep staff on the nature of the A Fine Scots Boy! The Positive Behavioural Plan and its connections to our Brave Hearts Bold Minds philosophy.
In sharing his own story with students at Senior School Assembly and House Chapels, Professor Stackhouse called for a greater epistemic humility - being aware of what we don't know or might have wrong - and an attention not just to our achievements but to our character. Such themes will be followed up in a special ScotsIdeas forum on 'Being a (Good) Man', this Thursday 27 July at 6:00pm. Professor Stackhouse's visit concludes with keynote addresses on Christian leadership at this weekend's Scots Leadership Program retreat, which involves a cohort of 20 staff, who have successfully won a place in this custom-designed 18 month training program.
It is a privilege to be in a learning community which draws on exceptional thinkers like Professor Stackhouse, reflecting our commitment to being recognised globally as a leading, caring school for boys. We look forward, in Weeks 4 and 5, to welcoming our annual Clark Distinguished Professorial Fellow, Professor David Smith from Calvin College, to speak on 'The World We Think We Live In: Schooling and Christian Imagination'. For more details and to register for the Clark Lecture, please click here: http://www.clarklectures.org/.
"Countries must learn how to capitalise on their citizens' cognitive resources if they are to prosper, both economically and socially. Early interventions will be key."
Quoting a recent publication in Nature, eminent thinker Professor Ian Hickie AM opened our recent ScotsIdeas forum, Beyond Mental Health, with this provocation. As he explored the unique developmental differences between individual young people, and the value and importance of 'kin' - networks of relationships within communities who are invested in that individual's care and flourishing - it was the nature of such interventions that characterised much of his subsequent discussion. As those in attendance will testify, the evening offered an important and timely exchange of ideas about the ways we can best care for the social and emotional wellbeing of our young men.
The video of Professor Hickie's presentation is now available online - please click here to view it in full. It was a true privilege to have such world class thinkers contributing to our knowledge and practice as a College community, particularly as we look to create the first of our five Patribus Centres, focusing on the character and care of fine young men.
Be sure to visit scotsresearch.org/scotsideas to watch videos of past forums on topics ranging from sustainability to speechmaking, sports science to the art of motivating boys. We look forward to seeing you at future ScotsIdeas events in 2017.
Dr Caitlin Munday
Research Fellow (Professional Learning)
In very large schools like Scots with boys from ages three through to 18, there can be the perception that most of the deep reflection on educational practice takes place in the Senior School, when things 'get serious'. When you look at the Early Learning Centre, however, that assumption could not be further from the truth. Under the leadership of Mrs Gaye Entwistle, the ELC has built a rigorous, reflection-rich professional culture, seeking to provide the best experiential education for our youngest boys in a critical stage of their development. That culture was on display this week as each full-time teacher presented the fruits of their action research on developing a philosophy for the ELC that integrates the best of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood formation. This project was conducted as part of a joint study with the Early Childhood Education team at Macquarie University. Mrs Entwistle explained the process of collaboration between academics, teachers, boys and families, the questions teachers explored, and the fruit of this research in enriching practice:
A focus group of families and boys were given opportunity to meet with the lecturers to discuss the heart of the Centre. What was the evident practice that made the Centre unique? How was the impact of the reflective Reggio Emilia practice part of the Centre's philosophy?
Each teacher then chose an action research question and became part of a practitioner inquiry to research the question in their class. The research was diverse and was refined over a year as small groups and teachers refined their thinking and saw evidence of change in their practice. Data was collected, practice changed and re-evaluation in teams and classes meant at the final presentation of the work, teachers had not only found some answers but continued with a further question or line of inquiry. Many felt it had finished with a new beginning. Shared ideas and experiences have provoked new directions with year levels and teams reexamining documentation, classroom designs, furniture, small group combinations and programs.
Parent participation has given us a great collection of ideas and information to rebuild our website and to offer different ways of communicating our learning while reinforcing the much loved portfolios and celebration materials we currently share.
Questions explored included:
What starts aggressive play in the playground?
How does the outside environment impact learning?
How do we normalise IT in the Lions program?
Do parents value/understand our practice or do they think we should be more formal?
How can I prioritise reading skills and strategies during guided reading time?
What strategies impact phonetic development in the EALD boys?
How do we build a class community?
Sarah Jane Marmion
Can problem solving maths strategies be productive in low skill sets?
How can I utilise the best class arrangement with boy's voices to build community?
What impact is fidgeting having on learning?
How can I encourage a student voice in curating the class displays?
The research confirmed our list of essential philosophy components in the Centre.
These key points will now become the basis for our document outlining the philosophy for the Centre. We are not a Reggio Emilia 'all of us thinking a bit differently about it' school. We are The Scots College and we do Early Childhood Education this way. We seek to reflect world's best practice, influences and research, in an Australian context.
The beautiful Scots Church was filled to near capacity last Thursday evening as parents, students, staff and friends of the College were treated to an intellectual 'tour de force' by eminent MIT nuclear physicist Professor Ian Hutchinson. His 2016 Clark Lectures on 'Faith and Fusion: science and the sources of truth' addressed the putative clash between science and Christian faith. Surveying history, philosophy and contemporary science, he pointed to the religiously-inspired origins of science and the practice of modern scientists like him as strong reasons to view this clash as a myth. He answered a number of tough questions on nuclear fusion research, Genesis and the origins of the universe, and the relationship between science, relativism and truth.
To watch the full recording of his lecture and question time, simply copy and paste the following URL into your browser: www.vimeo.com/179854618/c71892c6b1.
The Clark Lecture brought to a conclusion a highly successful two-week visit during which time a wide range of boys, staff, universities, churches and the media engaged with the thought and faith of this superb scholar. For more information about Professor Hutchinson's other talks please visit www.clarklectures.org.
Initiatives like the annual Clark Lectures and Ethos Conference are run by the Scots Research Centre to inspire the best of thinking about faith, learning and leadership.
We look forward to seeing you at the 2017 Clark Lectures and at upcoming ScotsIdeas events.
On Thursday 3 March, The Scots College Research Centre and Faculty of Applied Science hosted a number of fascinating academics at the ScotsIdeas Sustainable Futures Forum, exploring conservation, climate change, corporate citizenship and the cities of the future.
Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, shared her insights into the necessity of rigorous research and collaborative solutions to help prevent the extinction of cheetahs. Dr Marker, who received her doctorate from Oxford and is an Andrew D White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, has worked with cheetahs since 1974 and lived in Namibia for the past 25 years. She worked with the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo to discover the cheetah's lack of genetic variation and has been recognised by Namibian authorities for her extensive work with local farmers to restore cheetah habitats and develop cheetah-friendly economic opportunities. In 2000 she was named one of Time magazine's Heroes for the Planet.
Dr Marker was joined by Professor Steven Sherwood, ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Professor Sherwood, who researches clouds and their relation to changing climates, described the consequences of continued global warming without radical action, such as Sydney having tropical summers and much of the tropics becoming uninhabitable. He also shared some signs of good news, such as the expansion of renewable energy technologies and the growth of business-led interventions.
These themes were developed by Professor Christopher Wright, who holds a chair in Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School and leads the Balanced Enterprise Research Network. Professor Wright, whose latest book (with Daniel Nyberg) is entitledClimate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction, spoke on the problematic logic of unrestrained economic growth without regard for the environment. He suggested the need for major regulatory intervention, renewable reinvention and social mobilisation to break 'the sanctity of consumption' and disrupt 'business as usual'.
Responding to these challenges by designing better cities was the focus of Ms Sandy Burgoyne, Director of the Future Cities Collaborative at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney. Ms Burgoyne highlighted the need for idea-sharing between local leaders around the world, and the possibilities for greener and more human communities by focusing on holistic strategies rather than piecemeal tactics.
As Dean of Applied Science at The Scots College, Mr Chris Metcalfe, said, "When our boys are empowered to design real solutions to these real and pressing problems, they come up with surprisingly creative ideas. Our task as educators is helping them understand the issues and embrace their responsibility to bring about real change."
Click here to watch a video of these talks and find out more about ScotsIdeas.
Mission Australia, one of the nation's oldest and most respected Christian charities, has recently released its annual National Youth Survey. The Survey involved almost 19,000 Australian youth between the ages of 15 and 19. In its 14th year, it continues to be a major resource for policy formulation.
Here are some highlights, courtesy of Mission Australia's research and evaluation team: