This blog post contains parts of an article originally featured in The Age ‘Skills for The Modern Age’ Feature on Saturday 11 September 2021.
Though 21st century learning might conjure up images of futuristic classrooms and cutting-edge technology, Victorian educators say true innovation is about so much more than fancy tech. Independent schools across the state are focused instead on equipping their students with the ‘soft’ skills they need to be successful in a world characterised strongly by rapid change, communication, and collaboration.
Helping young women become independent learners is the primary focus at Melbourne Girls Grammar. “Knowing a lot simply isn’t enough when it comes to preparing students for the future”, says MGGS principal Dr Toni Meath. “Students should leave school with a strong academic background, but also the ability to recognise and adapt to what they don’t know – especially when they’re likely to change careers or return to study several times in their lives.”
“One of the things we know for certain about the future is that it will be characterised by one thing: change,” says Dr Meath. “This means that we need to educate our students to be adaptable.”
In the School’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan, MGGS highlighted the need to create lifelong learners. Specifically, the Strategic Plan acknowledges that ‘The Learner’ should be at the centre of everything we do. Our world is changing rapidly, and the future requires schools to prepare students with a set of skills and knowledge for the unknown. Our aim is to create an educational ecosystem that is learner-centred and encourages independence and interdependence rather than dependence.
We believe our holistic approach and supporting every aspect of each girl’s education, gives her the skills she needs now and for the future”
— Dr Toni Meath, MGGS Principal
Melbourne Girls Grammar has a robust STEM program and digital resources (MGGS was one of the first Australian schools to give student’s one-to-one access to computers), but those features are part of a larger emphasis on innovation, critical thinking, and creativity. “The real value of our digital program is less about the tools (or technology) and more about the knowledge and skills we develop that are critical for making independent, informed and considered choices,” says Mr Ashley Pratt, MGGS Executive Director, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Innovation.
The MGGS Student Enterprise Program for example, helps create co-curricular experiences for our Grammarians to explore their interests outside the classroom through volunteering, industry experiences, exchanges, and leadership opportunities. These have included everything from awarding students with innovation grants to externships. Most recently, Senior Years students have been engaged in mock interviews with industry experts to assist with applications for work, residential programs, and projects while a student interested in politics and public policy has externed with Old Grammarian Katie Allen, Member for Higgins, while parliament was sitting in Canberra.
One of the things we know for certain about the future is that it will be characterised by one thing: change” — Dr Toni Meath, MGGS Principal
“We believe our holistic approach and supporting every aspect of each girl’s education, gives her the skills she needs now and for the future”, says Dr Toni Meath, Principal at Melbourne Girls Grammar. “Finding their passion, having a sense of purpose, and being able to control their own learning are all significant steps in the discover of who they are, and where they are headed. The ability to think critically and creatively, to be curious and collaborate with others and to be able to commit to a task or idea empowers our girls to be the leaders in that future.”