What Did You Learn Today?
In her book Beautiful Failures (2016) author Lucy Clark writes how she “spent a long time asking my kids the fascinating question ‘How was school today?’ and getting the usual array of equally fascinating replies: All right, Boring, Good, Hmpfh”. Her encouragement, as both a parent and a researcher, is for parents to instead ask this: “What did you learn today that you want to know more about?”. This question, Clark states, is a great way for parents to ascertain what level of engagement your child is experiencing with their learning. And student engagement is one of the biggest issues for students, parents and teachers alike; as we strive to provide opportunities, guidance and meaningful learning environments that are preparing our children for, and affirming their place as, positive global citizens.
Having just gone through the process of subject selection with your child for another year, perhaps for the last time if your child is preparing for Year 12, do we as parents breathe a sigh of relief? Or, are some of us holding our breath that the subjects chosen and the studies ahead will be meaningful and engaging for our child? A Gallup poll released in 2015 which investigated the issue of student engagement defined engagement as “The involvement in and enthusiasm for school, reflecting how well students are known and how often they get to do what they do best”. (2015 Gallup Poll Report: Australia and New Zealand). At Senior School we hope to address student engagement by meeting those needs – ‘enthusiasm’, being ‘known’, and ‘opportunities to do what they do best’. The role of the House system and extra-curricular activities are deliberate and important opportunities for students to passionately involve themselves in meaningful community activities. Staff value relationship with their students, they seek to provide relevant feedback and are developing the use of restorative practices when things aren’t working. Finally, subject selection and the elective program is one of the most important ways students can feel good about, and connected to, the areas of study in which they feel enjoyment. Careers advice and planning is an excellent way for students to check their future direction in line with this.
How can we help, and as parents, feel involved? Encourage your child to participate in opportunities that are going to connect them with the community - athletics carnivals, social events, social justice initiatives and volunteer community service opportunities. Encourage your child to come to Student Learning Conferences, to communicate with their teachers and to see feedback as affirmation. Finally, as author Lucy Clark challenges us, ask your child about what they are interested in learning and what they hope to learn more about.
As a Senior Campus community, we seek to elaborate on the scope of our mission to provide the learning that matters. We want to acknowledge the importance of the development of your child’s faith, values and character. So that your child feels understood, challenged and affirmed, and graduates prepared for a hope-filled future. To do this we too must ask: “What did you learn today that you want to know more about?” and "How can we help you achieve this?"
Dianne Martin, Deputy Head of Senior School