Friday 17 August 2018

Kinaesthetic Learning

Throughout the course of Science Week, I was fortunate to witness some of the very best in kinaesthetic learning: that which encourages cognition and understanding through tactile learning experiences. There is an old Chinese proverb which purports – I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. It is this mantra which resonates so strongly with the learning styles of boys and it was that which came to the fore across the school during the week. Just two suffice as examples:

a) A visit to a Year 11 Biology class saw the boys armed with scalpels, tweezers, tongs and various other implements as they engaged in a practical lesson on anatomy. Rats and baby piglets were the object of their attention, as the boys peeled back the dermal and sub-cutaneous layers of tissue, spread rib cages and opened up lungs and internal organs. The colours and the textures of the anatomy, along with their rather distinctive smell, did not deter the boys in the slightest from their task. They worked collaboratively and intensively to pare back and then progressively identify the liver, the digestive tract, kidneys that regulate internal fluids, and a host of other seemingly ‘squelchy’ organs that ranged in colour and shape from various asymmetries of deep purple and maroon, to bright red and different striations of copper. Arresting stuff, but one that saw the boys consumed by the task as they learned, in very practical terms, about anatomical structure and physiology.

 b) Our younger folk at Regis continued to pursue their STEM adventure, as they broached new topics in transportation and bridge building. By designing, building and testing sustainably powered vehicles and exploring the concepts of scale, measurement, stress loading and architecture in suspension bridges, the boys undertook sensory learning through experimentation, construction and solutions to real world problems. It is not uncommon to see the boys standing over a failed design and reworking new solutions to such problems. This is where the intense learning occurs, and on a daily basis.

There were many activities to celebrate the importance of Science Week in the College, all of which were tailored towards the practical to optimise learning outcomes and enjoyment.

A series of Masses were conducted during the week to commemorate diverse liturgical and community events.

  • On Wednesday, the traditional feast of The Assumption was celebrated in Ramsay Hall with the entire school community. Drawing on the role of Mary as the Mother of the Church and the central role that all women play in family and community life, it was indeed timely amid the busyness of the school week to reflect upon Marian theology and convene in prayer as a school community.
  • The Dalton Chapel hosted two very significant Masses during the week: the first to  thank our volunteers who work tirelessly to support the boys with special needs and commit as scribes, invigilators and Special Provisions supervisors during the Trials and HSC Examinations. This was a mass of thanksgiving and gratitude for those give selflessly to our young men whose own vulnerabilities require special support.
  • The second mass in the Dalton Chapel was a precursor to the Year 12 Mothers’ Luncheon and it attested to the fact that the year is progressing speedily and the time remaining for the boys in the graduating class is rapidly diminishing. As is normally the case, there was more than a little emotion as mums who saw their boys off to the institution of school some thirteen years ago see them coming to a close with the pending closeting of uniforms, the cessation of weekend sport and the many school events and functions that form part of the calendar. It is an emotional time all round, for in a very real way, from the moment the boys walk in through the gate we are preparing them to leave: to emerge formed in the values of their education, to be independent thinkers and ready to take their place in the world and make a meaningful contribution to it. To those mothers who have given so very much to their boys over the years, I extend a sincere statement of gratitude on behalf of the teachers and support staff for being the first and foremost educators of their sons.

The Feast of the Assumption | The Learning Enrichment Team | The Year 12 Mothers’ Mass

Over the past week 11 students – eight boys and three girls from Beijing – have participated in the Chinese Language Exchange, a program which has existed with the Beijing Institute of Technology for over 20 years. The students have been billeted with Riverview families and students from both schools have benefitted immensely on a number of levels. Not only has their proficiency in Mandarin and English improved, respectively, but their cultural lens on the world has widened dramatically. This was one of the earliest interschool exchanges undertaken with mainland China, one launched at a time when relations between the two countries were less cordial than what they are in the current context. But there is precedent here too as it was to the Far East, to China and Japan, that the earliest companions of Ignatius travelled. In a way, it is a relationship that is the better part of five centuries old, so its modern expression builds on a very distinguished and rich history.

Students from the Chinese Language Exchange Program

The sense of anticipation about the ‘Joeys weekend’ is palpable. Despite the hardship that is being felt on the land at the present time, boarding families have already arrived in numbers to participate in an event that transcends place and time. Fields are primed and the program is printed for what will be another day of spectacular action, bonding between two great school communities, reunions that will relive the nostalgia of the past together with those who will see the theatre and the pageantry of the occasion for the first time. It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that on the day we will step back to recognise a higher order purpose – the drought, and its crushing impact on rural families. As we enter into the coming days, let us do our utmost to raise consciousness and funds for those who are in desperate need across the barren and parched landscapes of New South Wales.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine