From the Deputy Principal, Head of Secondary School
Above my desk is the original painting by Matthew Johnstone which illustrates the Radford Learner Profile; and I can’t help link some of the major events of recent weeks to these traits.
Our Year 7s recently returned from camp buzzing with tales of derring-do. Whilst some students found the going tough at times, I was so impressed all 196 students stayed the week and met their personal challenges. We talk about finding opportunities to authentically develop resilience in young people and this week was just that. I am sure many of our Year 7s surprised themselves after being encouraged into their ‘stretch zone’ in a safe environment. [And thank you to all our staff who supported this program over the week!]
Our Year 8s engaged in their second year of the Elevate Study Skills program last week. Working with external mentors, our 8s were encouraged to be confident communicators, not only within these sessions, but in their classes. Only when students provide our staff with feedback about their learning can we appropriately build on their understanding of the work. As we move through the coming years, we increasingly look to our Year 8s to take responsibility for their own learning. And I know our staff look for every opportunity to develop the confidence and skills of these students to do just that.
Our Year 9s have begun to embrace service learning, largely through ACT Parkcare Ranger Assist, Junior School Sport, the expanding Buddies Program in the Junior School (now in Years 1, 3 and 4), as well as through the team-based Special Student Support (SSS) Program. In each of these settings, our 9s are required to be self-regulating in order to offer the people with whom they are working the care and attention they require. Developing this life skill is a significant step toward meeting the challenges we know lay over the horizon in the coming years.
Sixteen of our Year 10s hosted students from Konko Gakuen School in Japan into their classrooms and homes for a week. Our commitment to a global outlook, whether it be through the Round Square or International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs, ensures our young people are open-minded about others’ cultures and backgrounds. In a few short months, these 10s will be jetting off to Japan for the second part of this exchange. I’m sure this will be a life-changing experience for all concerned in this fascinating country. (Read the article by Michele Sharp, Head of Languages)
Our Year 11s met with Paul Dillon again last week to consider the impact of alcohol and other drugs on both individuals and the broader community. Paul is a master of enabling students to be thinkers and consider the wider impacts of their choices. Rather than lecturing at people, Paul provides the facts and encourages our senior students to, for example, not worry about “getting into trouble” but to look after one another in an emergency situation. Paul was glowing in his praise of all the students he met last week at Radford. And it was fabulous to hear our 11s reciting to Paul the messages they had learnt from him last year.
A number of our Year 12s shaved their head or drastically cut their long hair to support the Leukaemia Foundation’s good work around the nation. We engaged in some robust discussions with these students prior to the day to ensure they were undertaking this action for all the right reasons; and those people with whom I spoke could link their fundraising campaign to their principles having clearly thought through their motivations. In speaking with a number of parents who attended in support of their children it appears, for some, this ritual has become very much a family affair as they reflect on relatives living with cancer.
I need not look any further than the speech our College Vice Captain, William Goodchild, wrote and delivered at our Secondary School Assembly, a few days after the dreadful events in Christchurch, to be reassured our work at Radford is helping develop young people who will make a positive impact on others. I have extracted some parts of William’s speech below:
"… there’s no point in preaching to Radford students about compassion. We wear the word next to our hearts and drive by it on our way into school each day. That doesn’t mean we’re experts on the matter but I think, overall, we practise it fairly well. However, in the face of the Christchurch tragedy, it seems as though as a society we’re struggling with the notion of compassion ….. What happened in Christchurch was not merely a lapse in love, or a momentary take-over of hate, it was a culmination of deep-rooted cultural flaws that we, as a society, have been turning a blind eye to. Why is it that our culture is flawed?
We young people can carry the torch of solidarity, because we already do; the Climate March, Relay for Life and Harmony Day are all examples. Let these things be our revolution in thinking. German philosopher Walter Benjamin said “Behind every rise of fascism, there is a failed revolution” let’s not let our revolution fail. … So, this Thursday as we celebrate diversity on Harmony Day, let’s all step back and look at the bigger picture, and maybe we can be the first Band-Aid on our broken culture. Healing takes time, let’s start now."
I, for one, am ever optimistic about our shared future as I know there are many young people within our student body with a highly developed social conscience.