Home' Focus : 2014 College Yearbook Contents 60
HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL
Personalised Learning: Finding your
passions and pursuing them . . .
The Scotch Oakburn College Middle School is a unique
learning environment that offers young adolescents a wide
range of learning opportunities at each year level. 2014 has
been another very productive year, with students engaging in a
diverse group of activities.
The Middle School learning community focuses on the
individual, which means that a student’s learning needs,
readiness and passions are targeted through careful planning,
use of a wide variety of pedagogies and the opportunity
provided for students to pursue their personal interests within
and beyond the school day.
Our approach sees the
learner as an active participant
in their learning and thereby
they have more voice and
choice in their own learning.
The learner is empowered to
discover, follow and cultivate
their own passions and take
an ever-increasing role in the
privilege and responsibility of
learning. As teachers we are
there to guide students as they explore their world and gain
independence as self-motivated learners, but we have to let go
of the control of knowledge. In the Middle School, we focus less
on time frames and more on deep understanding, no matter
how long it takes. We speak less of ‘subjects’ and more of
interests and discoveries. Personalised learning is the shift from
the teacher asking, “How can I teach you this?” to the learner
saying, “I GOT THIS!”.
It is quite common for a young adolescent to tell me that
they think they are ‘dumb’ or that someone else is so ‘smart’.
My standard response is to ask what dumb and smart mean?
Our young people must grow up believing that their personal
learning is the shift
from the teacher
asking, “How can I
teach you this?” to
the learner saying,
‘I GOT THIS!’. ”
strengths are unique and that they should not be comparing
themselves to their peers or to some imaginary ‘norm’. Another
common challenge is when a student says they don’t read, or
they don’t like reading. It is easy to get them started if they find
something to read that interests them; the reading material
offered to students needs to be flexible and diverse. All young
people can become engaged in their learning, they just need to
find their passion and pursue it.
Throughout 2014, Middle School students at Scotch
Oakburn have been pursuing their personal passions and
discovering new interests. Many Round Square opportunities
(locally, nationally and globally), music performances,
leadership programs, class visits to the Migrant Resource
Centre, Debating, Public Speaking, Tournament of the Minds,
Readers’ Cup, Maths Club and Wellbeing Days – these give
only a snapshot of the breadth and depth of our students’
experiences this year.
The interest in studying French, Japanese and Mandarin
has never been greater. Students are making links between
the advantages of learning other languages and their regular
exposure to the Round Square IDEALS. Learning through a
greater understanding of global perspectives is an important
part of our vision for Scotch Oakburn’s learners.
This year saw the introduction of the very popular overnight
excursions to Chinatown in Melbourne as part of the Year 8
Mandarin learning program. The Japanese Club has continued
to flourish this year, with students enhancing their curiosity and
understanding of Japanese culture in an informal setting. The
interest in studying French in the Middle School has increased
and next year we have solid numbers in both Year 7 and Year 8.
The Year 7 cohort continued their longitudinal environment
and sustainability study at the Taylor’s St Johnstone property.
Service elements in this experience and throughout our
Education Outdoors programs underpin our commitment
to experiential learning and again have strong links to the
Round Square IDEALS. The new-look IY8 ‘Green’ concept that
was introduced last year was a great success and this has
challenged this year’s cohort to be creative and innovative
From small things, big things grow
An exercise in persuasive writing has led to a group of
students from the Junior School meeting one of the most
powerful men in the world, the President of China.
It began in May with Literacy Teacher Mrs Gwen Eley
working with students in Year 5 to write letters inviting
President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan to Tasmania.
The letters from the students in Mrs Katie Marson’s class
were then also written in Chinese in Mandarin classes with Mr
Sam Bateman. Amazingly, the letters made it to the Presidential
couple and this prompted a visit to the school from the Chinese
Ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu, and the Consul General
to Melbourne, Yumin Song, to hand deliver a copy of President
A week later, on November 18, the class supported by staff
travelled to Hobart to meet the President and Madame Peng at
The Head of Junior School, Lachie Wright, described it as a
spectacular example of authentic learning inspiring students in
''We try to relate our learning to relevant and topical issues
and events. So Mrs Eley picked up on publicity about the
Chinese President and trade relations and said, ‘Why don’t we
write to him and persuade him to visit Tasmania and tell him
about some special places here?’ They proceeded to write
letters which were then also written in Mandarin and mailed off
to the Chinese Embassy.''
Eventually we had contact that the President was coming to
Tasmania and he would like to meet the children who wrote the
The President wrote to the students saying: “Children are
the future and hope of a country or a nation. They are also the
hope of state-to-state relations. Your letter have given us great
confidence in future China-Australia relations. We hope that
you will all become successors to the cause of China-Australia
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