One thing that makes our curriculum special is the amount of choice learners have. Whilst it remains important to ensure every boy has access to a broad, liberal education – which means exposing them to a wide range of subjects even if they aren’t keen! – we must also connect learners with meaningful, guided choices, especially as they move closer to graduation.
The idea of giving learners choice does not always fit neatly with very traditional, industrial models of learning, but the practice is essential if we are to live out our values of inclusivity and differentiation. After all, every student is different, so our variable pathways should honour this. Beyond this, the responsibility-laden act of choosing breeds what educators call ‘learner agency,’ giving boys a sense of ownership over their journey. We want to help build agents of change, not compliant sheep!
There are a number of opportunities for boys to exercise this kind of agency in the coming months. Boys in Year 10, for instance, will soon be asked to select their subjects for their senior SACE pathway. There is a Subject Selection Information Evening being held at the School early in Term 3 to discuss our variable pathways, and a robust process will follow involving students, parents, teachers, Heads of House and Heads of Faculty before selections are finalised.
I believe the most important thing to remember when choosing subjects is to pick units of study that you are genuinely interested in and will enjoy some success in. Seeking to maximise ATAR results or prepare for a particular university course are certainly important motivations, but – if I have learnt anything in my time as an educator – they should not drive your selections; dragging yourself through subjects you feel you should do, but find boring and overly challenging makes for a grim experience. There are times when learning needs to be a drudge, but we should not miss the opportunity to seek out inspiration, beauty and joy in our classrooms, no matter how high the stakes feel.
Deputy Headmaster (acting)