From our Learning & Teaching Directors
Thank you to all our families who attended the Parent/Student/Teacher Interviews on 2 and 3 August. Attendance levels were high, and most students have now completed and signed off their pathway and subject selection for 2019. We thank parents and carers for their involvement in this important process.
We are delighted that so many current Year 9 students are taking up the option to study a VCE or VET subject starting in Year 10 as part of their 3-year senior pathway. This acceleration option, which offers over 50 subjects, has proved very popular. Did you know that six subjects can count towards ATAR scores? Traditionally only five are done during Year 12, therefore if is a big bonus for students to accelerate in a subject at Year 10.
Our dedicated VCAL program also allows Year 10 students to work towards their VCAL certificate early, also giving them a headstart on their 3-year senior pathway to Year 12.
New in 2019
As mentioned in the previous newsletter, there are some exciting new directions in our programs for 2019, especially at the Coolock Campus. The changes are not about dramatic restructures of classrooms; rather, they are about helping students to make connections between subjects.
We have repeated below the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list to assist you with clarity about these programs. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any other questions.
Mrs Gina Giblin & Mr Matthew Angove, Directors of Learning & Teaching
An interdisciplinary approach assists teachers to have a more cohesive approach to the curriculum. For example, in a traditional timetable, students might study cells and microbes in Term 1 Science, the muscular system in Health during Term 3, and societal approaches to health care and wellbeing in Humanities in Term 4. With an interdisciplinary approach, these topics are linked through planning by a core group of teachers, leading to far greater clarity for students. This leads to better learning outcomes and challenges students to make connections and develop a transferable skill set. Classes can emphasise broad and deep connections of ideas, rather than learning in isolation for tests dedicated only to smaller pieces of a greater whole.
‘The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts…to inculcate just sentiments.’ (C.S. Lewis)
Why is it called Veritas?
‘The essence of God is to exist’; in Latin ‘Haec Sublimis Veritas’ literally means ‘the sublime truth’.
The subject Veritas asks students to get to the heart of the big questions in life; to be constantly seeking the deepest truths, which is critical in modern society. It is not enough in a digital economy for students to merely ‘know’; it is critical that students know how to seek knowledge, know how they learn and to be able to make informed decisions on what is right and just.
Why is it called Virtues?
The notion of a virtue being a personal aspect through which people can contribute to the world has deep roots in Catholic tradition. Also, modern psychological and sociological research into the positive aspects of what makes us human has concentrated on virtues.
The difference between a virtue and a value is that virtues transcend cultural differences, whereas values can have quite different meanings depending on your culture and environment.
The subject Virtues concentrates on personal development and service. The name Virtues resonates with students’ developing understanding of humanity, themselves, their faith and how they can make a difference, locally and globally.
What learning areas do these subjects incorporate?
Health, Humanities, Religious Education, Science, Digital Technology and general capabilities.
What does Veritas look like?
Veritas teaches students how to think, instead of what to think: as C.S. Lewis would say, ‘propagation’ rather than ‘propaganda’. As Ritter affirms, knowing how to think will ultimately help students be more flexible and adaptable in a world where people will rarely keep the same job during the whole of their working life.
Veritas will see students exploring across traditional subject domain areas and their sub-domain areas (e.g. Science – Biology; Humanities – History etc.) Rather than domains operating in isolation, this overarching subject will approach essential questions about the big questions in life. For example, the concepts of ‘justice’ and ‘evidence’ can and should be explored from each of these traditional domain areas at the same time. In this way students are given more opportunities to see how their learning in the classroom is related more broadly, leading to increased capacity to apply their learning beyond the classroom.
What are the subjects Virtues and Extended Investigation about?
In Year 10, all students study the interdisciplinary subjects Virtues and Extended Investigation. Virtues explores the concepts of self, humanity, and society. Extended Investigation explores research, evidence, analysis and critical thinking. Both these subjects allow and encourage students to make links to their pathways planning and draw links with Year 10 Camp and work experience.
Will students still access specialist spaces? For example, will students still use science laboratories?
Yes. Within the timetable for Veritas, students will have periods dedicated to working in science labs, STEAM spaces and the gym. Within the Years 7 – 9 timetable, students will also select Technology and Arts subjects where they will learn in appropriate specialised areas, from teachers specifically trained in those areas.
Will my child have staff skilled in the appropriate areas?
Yes. Students will learn with staff specifically trained in these areas.
Is this project-based learning?
No. While students will be given opportunities to apply their skills to larger projects, there being many benefits to this as an educational approach, it is not the overall purpose and rationale of the program. Rather, the emphasis is around deeper learning and developing the students’ skills in a holistic sense so that they can apply them beyond test questions and domain-specific class tasks. Students will still experience a range of learning and teaching approaches. The change is about emphasising connections, stronger learning partnerships in classrooms and a more cohesive curriculum.
Will they be in large open-plan, combined classes?
No. Our learning spaces are not large barn-like spaces. We have flexible learning spaces that cater for team teaching of one to two classes, or individual classes. Students will be part of small hubs, creating an environment where teachers can cater for the different learning needs of the students in their group, so it isn’t ‘one (or two) size(s) fits all’.
What is happening to the Martyn Program?
In 2018 there were two options for students at the Coolock Campus; a traditional program, or the Martyn Program, which was based around interdisciplinary subjects and student projects.
From 2019, we are bringing together the best aspects of both programs. There will not be a separate program called ‘Martyn’ as all students will have opportunities for interdisciplinary, student-driven enquiry and project approaches to learning.