Learning is sometimes better after the fact

From the Director of Differentiated Studies In most classes assessment for the term is now complete and all concerned (students, parents and teachers) are probably breathing a collective sigh of relief as those many stressful hours of preparation and study are now over... at least for a few weeks. Holidays await with the promise of opportunities to relax, to recharge and to forget, but is that what we really want to have happen? Learning does not end with the completion of a test or an assignment — in fact this is just the beginning. Where to from here? One element of assessment is, of course, judgement of performance but, perhaps more importantly, it helps teachers to guide students, to shape planning of future units and to inform learning. At this critical point in the year, both teacher and student have an invaluable opportunity to review the outcomes of the term. There is time to reflect on…

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The Value of the Ethics Programme

From the Head of O'Connor House and Year 8 Co-ordinator In 2004, the Howard government initiated a programme designed to ensure that all children in Australian Schools would be educated in a common set of agreed values — hence Values Education in Australian Schools was born. This $29.7 million commitment was always going to arouse contention by the mere fact that it seemed predicated on an assumption that schools were devoid of values before this programme. To some, this was nothing more than an expensive poster campaign, a mere list of character traits peddled to apparently values-free students in a values-free education system; to others it was yet another government imposed hoop for schools and educators to jump through. Now in 2011 it would seem that this values push has dropped off the political radar; the posters have come down from classroom walls and the discussion has faded. Where then does this leave values education and…

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Remembering our heritage – Foundation Day, 15 March

From the Deputy Principal Emerita When Queensland was formally separated from New South Wales on 6 June, 1859, three major pieces of legislation concerning education were passed almost immediately by the new Colonial government in 1860. What was remarkable was the intention of establishing not only a system of primary education but also a number of state-subsidised post-elementary schools – the Grammar schools. The Acts – An Act to Discontinue Grants from the Revenue in Aid of Religion (August), the Act to Provide for Primary Education in Queensland (September) together with The Grammar Schools Act (September) reflected the high priority placed on education by such leading lights in the new legislature as Robert Herbert (later Sir), Sir Charles Nicholson, and Charles Lilley (later Sir). The 1860 The Grammar Schools Act asserted: … it is expedient for the encouragement of learning that public Grammar Schools should be established in the Colony of Queensland for conferring on all…

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Women and the arts

This week International Women's Day was celebrated across many countries in the world marking 100 years of thought and action to address the inequities in the lives of so many women. As a result of a decision taken at the first international women's conference in 1910 in Copenhagen, more than one million women and men across several countries in Europe attended rallies in 1911 to focus attention on three key demands: the right of women to work; an end to discrimination in the workplace; the right to vote and to hold public office.

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An arts-rich education

From the Dean of Co-Curriculum In her recent article ‘What do the Arts bring to Education’, Dr Jane Gooding-Brown, Visual Arts Coordinator at the Sydney Conservatorium High School, cites international research demonstrating that arts programmes teach a specific set of thinking skills that are rarely addressed elsewhere in the curriculum. These skills include visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism, and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes, all of which are vital to a wide range of career paths, but are largely ignored in standardised testing such as the Australian NAPLAN tests. In a similar vein, a recent article published in The Age by Richard Gill, notable Australian Music Educator, Director of Victorian Opera, and composer of the music for our own school song Nil Sine Labore, warns us to “wake up, Australia, or we’ll have a nation of unimaginative robots”. Gill believes that schools across the country are cutting back on arts education to devote more time…

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Moving beyond individual performance

From the Director of Health Studies For nearly thirty years I have been a fan of the Boston Celtics basketball team.  They are the American National Basketball Association’s most successful team.  In the history of the NBA, no other team has won more Championships.  According to basketball writer, Bethlehem Shoals (2010), the Celtics teams that won sixteen titles between 1957 and 1986 did so with an “almost dismissive attitude toward individual glory”.  These teams had great individual players, any one of whom on any given night was capable of (and often delivered) an outstanding individual performance.  In the main though, the strength of these teams came from a wonderful intermingling of player and team identity.  It seems that the Celtics then lost sight of this, as their most recent (and seventeenth) title came in 2008, twenty-two years after their last. This 2008 Championship was on my mind over the Christmas break because I was reading Top of…

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Helping our girls to achieve their full personal potential

From the Head of Griffith House and Year 9 Coordinator At School Assembly last week, Dr Bell spoke to the girls about the importance of eating healthy food, engaging in regular exercise and gaining adequate sleep. She encouraged the girls to practise the habit of consuming nutritious food with the consumption of less healthy “treats” occurring only occasionally. The subject of eating a balanced diet to maintain strong physical health is very topical at the moment with various media reports exploring the disturbing possibility that the current generation of teenagers will not live as long as their parents.  In The Weekend Australian, February 12-13 2011, an article by Alexander Gambotto-Burke entitled “Mum’s the word on obese kids” featured the work of Flinders University senior lecturer and dietitian, Anthea Magarey.  Magarey heads the Parenting, Eating and Activities for Child Health programme, known as PEACH, designed to engage parents of younger children in making healthy lifestyle changes to…

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Starting Well at Girls Grammar

It has been a torrid start to 2011 with floods, cyclones and humid weather but hopefully the start of secondary school has been a little breezier for our Year Eights. The sight of new Grammar girls with crisp white shirts, shining shoes and eager faces is always heart- warming and after three weeks that bright exterior may even be matched with a more confident interior. We should not underestimate however, the challenges that our Year Eights face as they embark upon the next phase of their educational journey.

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Leadership: commitment to the School and the community

From the Assistant Dean God be in my head, And in my understanding; God be in mine eyes, And in my looking; God be in my mouth And in my speaking; God be in my heart, And in my thinking. God be at mine end, And at my departing. Amen. This hymn was chosen to be sung at the Prefects’ Induction forty years ago in 1971 and at many other induction ceremonies that followed. This choice of music, often sung by a choir, highlights many significant qualities demanded of those in leadership roles: wisdom, integrity, empathy and open-mindedness. The 1971 Prefects also took a pledge to the School: I resolve to undertake the responsible duties of a Prefect, to uphold in every way the honour of the School, by my own actions to set a good example, and, to maintain the order and discipline of the School. This pledge was slightly shorter, but with similar intent, to…

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Our Country

The date of January 26 was chosen for Australia Day as a commemoration of the landing of the First Fleet in Port Jackson in 1788. However, in modern Australia, we take this time to reflect on some of the qualities that make our country such a special, wonderful place. And seldom has there been a greater demonstration than in these last few weeks, of the worst, and the very best, of Australia.

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