“If there is one key conclusion that goes against the grain of all the doubts [we] have, it is that our collective capacity, ability and resourcefulness for change is much higher than is typically recognised.” Simms & Newell, The Possibility of Rapid Transition, University of Sussex
Last week was a very interesting combination of experiences, and whilst the contexts varied there was one overriding theme that connected all: our world is transforming and there are significant challenges, but human imagination and persistence mean we can innovate our way to a sustainable future.
Melbourne Girls Grammar was nominated for the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Innovative Companies in Australia and New Zealand, with the Awards Dinner held on Monday 30 July in Sydney. Whilst we were not successful on the night, it was fascinating to learn about some of the best innovations by Australians. The winning company has developed a machine that is 176 times more accurate than any other in detecting siesmic movement in mines and tunnels. Two of the best innovations rely on blockchain to improve tracking and security of sustainable food chains. Human ingenuity was abundant, and promoted a wonderful sense of the capacity our nation has to innovate a great future.
The following two days I attended the second Australian Digital Government Summit. With our interest in leveraging technology to improve curriculum design and delivery this was an opportunity to learn more about the digital future our state and federal governments envision and are operationalising. Keynotes from the UK, NZ and USA anchored our local efforts within the global context of a fast transforming economies.
NZ’s Chief Executive and Government Chief Digital Officer, provided a fascinating reflection on NZ’s Digital Strategy. NZ has the ambition that their digital expertise will be the biggest contributor to GDP by 2025. They are partnered with academia and businesses globally. In particular, they developed a benchmark for a “smart society” with Fletcher School (Tufts University) – what they call a Digital Evolution Index. A founding member of the D7 (UK, NZ, Estonia, Israel, South Korea, Canada, Uruguay) they openly share development of guidelines and standards on all aspects of their digitalising economies, with improved iterations being used and further adapted. NZ firmly believes that the world by 2030 will be transformationally different to today. They envision their citizens being equipped to thrive in that digitally enhanced context and are working strategically to design the access, the education and the governance to ensure their success in that aspiration. NZ is ranked in the top three “smart societies” and is number 1 for “digital transparency”. They are a beacon for attention to what is possible and urgent.
Interestingly, in successive presentations by Australian Chief Digital Officers, the point was made clear that Australia is working in digital silos at state and within federal departments, and lacks the urgency to develop the culture required to move forward with a cohesive digital strategy. Yet, there are signs of significant shifts within our government agencies. One stand-out is happening under the auspices of Transport for NSW. They have set up the first Transport Digital Accelerator in the world. It is located within the Start-Up Hub in Sydney. They bring together Human-Centred Designers, dedicated subject experts, and 20 Start-Up talents for 6 days in every month, to work on an identified problem. They short list to maximum of 12 solutions and give seed money to those start-ups. Transport NSW provides mentoring to the start-ups and assists them with cyber security and testing. The outcomes are impressive with consumer-focused solutions that they believe are making real gains in citizen trust and commercial efficiencies.
On Thursday afternoon, Holly Ransom was speaker for the CEE | Director’s Lecture Series #3. I first met and heard Holly speak at the NYC Global Forum for Girls. She is an expert in the analysis of generational change and forecasting potential futures. Holly focused on the need for educational change in order to prepare Australian youth for the world they will live in. She emphasized that the new work portfolio will require adaptability, mobility, resilience in the face of uncertainty, and the ability to work in diverse teams. She also reflected that Australia’s governments are not understanding their urgent role to participate in leading the change Australia requires to its infrastructure and governance regimes. Holly championed the changes MGGS has implemented in its Senior Years Program as the direction education needs to head if youth are to develop the enterprise, independence and resilience needed.
We received brilliant news of the success of two YOGs (young Old Grammarians). Ingrid Zhang (2017) has received The Colin McCormick Memorial Scholarship from the University of Melbourne, with the support of the Italian Australian Institute (La Trobe University). The scholarship of $2,000 can be used to continue her studies at Melbourne University or in further studies in Italy. Christie Costello (2012) was awarded a First with Distinction in her recent examination for Part II of the History of Art Tripos at Newham College, Cambridge, an outstanding academic achievement. We congratulate both young women on their continuing excellence as scholars.
The four shows for Legally Blonde are sold out and we cannot wait for opening night this Thursday. The girls have rehearsed relentlessly and the staff have been incredibly active and encouraging. It will be a fantastic showcase of the talent and hard work of our girls, and I wish them all the best on the night.
Finally, congratulations to the Art Faculty for bringing us a fabulous Art week. A significant initiative was the exhibition The Field Revisited: An Educational Turn in the student gallery. Old Grammarian Normana Wight was our special guest. Normana is featured in the current exhibition at the NGV, The Field Revisited, a restaging of a 1968 exhibition. The original exhibition featured only three woman, two being Old Grammarians – Normana Wight and Janet Dawson. We sincerely thank Normana for joining us and sharing memories of her distinguished career.
Over the next semester I encourage you, with your daughter, to take an interest in the new Digital Citizenship update in the Messenger. Our Digital Advisor, Ms Idil Eker, will be communicating trending topics on Digital Citizenship and emerging issues identified within MGGS or by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The updates can be used by parents to facilitate conversations at home, to assist parents to enter confidently into the digital culture of youth. When home and school are aligned in these conversations we know there is greater opportunity to engage students in critical thinking and personal reflection.