From the Principal: 31 August 2020

From the Principal: 31 August 2020

Our Science and English Weeks have been a great success with our Grammarians engaging in real knowledge and skill development in these disciplines. It has been terrific to see our students engaging with authentic questioning, in virtual experiments, real time discussions and displaying their passions for a myriad of micro topics. Learning is discovering, making links, and understanding; it happens when there is true engagement in knowledge and skills by the learner. It is essential to remember that learning builds upon learning and you will have heard many a true expert in any field remark ‘the more you know, the more you don’t know’. This is an old adage, but a truism. It is that humble scholarly voice that grounds us as learners and reminds us that there is always growth to be had and more to know. As the Monash University motto states  ‘Ancora Imparo’ or ‘I am still learning’, or as subscribed by The University of Melbourne ‘Postera Crescam Laude’ or ‘Later I shall grow by praise’.

In a recent article in The Age (21/08/20), written by journalist Adam Carey, the Vice Chancellor, Duncan Maskell commented on how politicians and social media are eroding public trust in scientific expertise. Maskell stated ‘‘Every single person on the planet who has a social media account feels they have the right to not just comment on stuff but have their comment taken seriously,” he said. ‘‘And so, the number of people you see commenting on complicated issues with simplistic sound bites is really quite frightening.’’ We want our learners to be critical, creative, and caring thinkers, but to also realise the humility that comes with this tenant that ‘they are still learning’ and theirs is a search of deep and profound knowledge. In my regular meetings with our Director of Sub Schools and teachers, I am pleased with how our Grammarians respect and care for their learning and how they are getting on with their job of being curious and engaged scholars.

Although I am firmly grounded in the present, at this time of year, I have my thinking squarely focused on the next academic year. Many decisions are being made at this time of year that will impact 2021. These include decisions about subject selections, staffing, budgets, scholarships, leadership and many more. With the new normal of COVID-19, we are planning for a 2021 with social distancing and smaller class sizes so that we can spread out. In 2021 we will also be using the terrain of our campuses differently and we are currently exploring the implementation of outdoor classrooms. As an educator, I have long been a fan of taking classes outside for all disciplines, whether this be for observation, practise of skills or class and small group discussions. Think of art and the ‘En plein air’ movement of painting outdoors, or English literature circles under a shady tree or the study of geometry in the real world – there are many ways in which our beautiful outdoor spaces can be utilised as learning environments. We are also taking our experiences from remote learning so that we can better personalise the learning for every Grammarian.

Over the last week it has been my absolute privilege to read the applications, and interview potential candidates for the 2021 School Captain and Vice-Captains. This is a humbling experience as all applications highlighted the extent of the contribution these students have already made to our school and their courage to put their hand up for these significant roles in their final academic year. This year we had an overwhelming number of students who applied for these positions and the shortlisting process has been difficult. I empathise with those who missed out on the chance to interview, however, I would like to express my personal gratitude to all of the applicants for putting themselves forward for these important roles cognisant of the time and energy required to lead the school well. I encourage our Grammarians to believe in themselves and to continue to put their hands up for leadership. In truth, every Year 12 student holds the position of leader, and it is a wonderous thing to observe our younger Grammarians soaking them up – this is how a great culture transcends through time. I look forward to working with our 2021 cohort and from my recent reading and listening of their aspirations and dreams for our school, I am confident that next year will be one of ambition and connection.

At MGGS, we are highly inclusive and value difference and diversity. Last week we respected the National Wear It Purple Day on Wednesday 26 August to show our support for LGBTQIA+ Youth and held our Annual Diversity Assembly celebrating the unique differences we all have. Staff and students wore a touch of purple to show support and solidarity for one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

Our recent Centre for Educational Enterprise (CEE) Director’s Series Webinar with Dr Jared Cooney Horvath’s presentation titled ‘My Brain, My Life’ was well attended. Dr Jared Cooney Horvath (PhD, MEd) is an expert in the field of educational neuroscience, with a focus on translating neuroscientific principles to enhance teaching and learning practices within the classroom. Jared has conducted research and lectured at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School and The University of Melbourne.  Jared is also closely connected to MGGS as his mother in law was a Grammarian who sent her three daughters to MGGS from Prep to Year 12 and Jared’s wife is one of these daughters. Jared engaged us all with his energetic presentation and reminded us of the importance of being metacognitive or ‘thinking about our thinking’ and the implications of this for the learner. If you missed the event the recording of this webinar is available and I encourage you to watch it.

Our next Centre for Educational Enterprise (CEE) Director’s Series webinar is titled ‘Reality and Risk’ and presented by Queensland University of Technology, PhD scholar, Maree Crabbe, Director of the Violence Prevention Project.  The presentation is centred on having an important discussion with your teenage daughter about pornography and to question the omnipresent messages about relationships, sexuality, respect, equality, mutuality, communication, and consent. For young people growing up in this era of ever new and accessible technology, this is something we all need to be aware of and open the conversation. In this presentation, Maree Crabbe will explore what do parents need to understand about pornography and how parents can support their children’s healthy social and sexual development. This webinar is designed for parents and older students only. Please join me on Tuesday 8 September to listen to Maree Crabbe explore these important issues.

Early next term, our Parents Association will be calling for nominations for two roles — President and Treasurer. The leadership displayed through volunteering is part of what we do exceptionally well at MGGS. If you are interested in getting involved either in one of these executive roles or as a class representative I would encourage you to step forward. It is a wonderful way to get involved in your daughter’s School and extend friendships and connections. Details on how to apply, position descriptions and nomination forms will be made available via eVI.

The last few weeks in Melbourne have been exceptionally cold and windy with an Antarctic blast from the south. Our COVID numbers are coming down in Melbourne and we are beginning to see a light of hope in the distance. There is still a level of uncertainty in when and how Stage 4 will be lifted. Spring is very close and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to school as soon as we have the ‘green light’. Please be assured that we will have careful and safe ‘Return to Campus Plans’ in place when this does happen. I hope that you and your family continue to be well and stay healthy.

Author

Dr Toni E. Meath, Principal