Friday 15 June 2018

Decision Daze

Having a voice in the direction of your learning promotes resilience and academic wellbeing.

Term 2 traditionally marks the beginning of the ‘subject selection’ season for students from Years 7 to 10 when each young man at Riverview begins or continues to form his learning journey by choosing the subjects with which he will engage in the following year. As students move through the stages from Year 5 to 12, they are given more choice and more opportunity to select the courses they would like to undertake. This gradual exposure to choice brings ever increasing responsibility because each decision has consequences which become more pronounced and significant as they approach the end of their schooling.

The goal, of course, is to prepare our young men to become confident and discerning adults who can make important decisions about their own directions in life beyond Year 12. This is particularly important in today’s tertiary learning environments. Most universities now have increased flexibility in their undergraduate programmes so Year 13 students can choose electives from a wide variety of subjects which were previously held in distinct schools.

I’ve been proud and fortunate to spend the past few weeks catching up with recent Riverview graduates at their university, college and TAFE awards ceremonies. While our young men continue to win accolades for their academic and workplace performance beyond Year 12, it’s interesting to note the range of subjects and experiences they have explored since leaving school. At one such function at St Andrew’s College – University of Sydney, I caught up with several Riverview Old Boys who talked about their languages, arts and music electives within their Law or Engineering degree programs. It occurred to me that the notion of choice in learning paths and mastery of a breadth of subjects was something these boys valued very highly and certainly something which is providing these young men with an inter-disciplinary approach to solving problems which is positioning them to face the future.

This had me thinking more about how we prepare the next generation to make choices which assist them to face what lies ahead. Through the curriculum we encourage each young man to have a voice and to use their skills and knowledge from a variety of disciplines. This is the inherent purpose of our ‘Magis’ integrated approach to learning in Years 7 & 8. Through our development of learning spaces like the new Therry Building, we can provide opportunities for independent learning and adaptive approaches to learning which promote collaboration and communication, hence preparing our students for the challenges of their future.

Importantly, over time, we guide our students into making more and more decisions about their studies so that they can develop ownership of their learning and ensure that they invest in their classes at school. Last week our Year 10s were introduced to their subject selections for senior school. Tonight Year 8s will join staff and parents in an exploration of their choices for Years 9 and 10 and early next term, Year 7s, 9s and 11s will be offered the opportunity to refine their patterns of study.

In these days of decision making, which can often seem like a daze, I encourage students and parents to remember what Saint Ignatius taught us when making decisions ‘be sensitive to the movements of thoughts, imaginings, emotions, inclinations, desires and feelings, reflect on them and understand where they come from and where they lead us.’

Dr Paul Hine