Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

Principal's Lines: Learning in an Expanded World

5 May 2017

Wesley Year 7 students building 3d shapes

Framing the Future of Wesley 2017-2030, sets the direction for next generational development of the College. The response to the plan has been gratifying, and the document is both aspirational and realistic in its objectives.

This year’s theme, something we have established to give a particular coherence and focus to each school year, is Learning in an Expanded World, and is derived explicitly from the Framing the Future document. The world is expanding on our doorsteps, almost on a daily basis. It is being brought much closer to us through technology and digital media. Expansion through contraction would not have made sense a decade or so ago. The internet has enormously expanded our access to information and networks of other people who now no longer need to be living close by. There are endless streams flowing into and though our lives: friends on Facebook, renters on Airbnb and Uber, opinions on Twitter, commerce through Amazon and Alibaba, music through Apple, Pandora and Spotify, knowledge through Google, the ideas of others through instant text messaging and email and so on. It seems endlessly expanding, this brave new world, and is both beguiling and bewildering.

And all this is bringing new challenges for schools and educators generally. How students learn, and indeed from whom they learn, is being radically transformed. Not just at Wesley, but everywhere now across this expanding world, decisions have to be taken about being selective: what no longer works, and what, in this “shock of the new”, will enhance learning? As usual, the answer is not definitive and lies somewhere in the middle. There are risks and challenges with which we must critically engage.

The world of work is also dramatically changing. My generation was certainly encouraged to find a work or career destination and more or less stay put for the duration. It was conservatism emerging from a different historical time. This is no longer the case. For many, the future work force will be flexible, adaptable, and likely to change directions several times in a working life. As the Framing the Future document establishes, we must be right on the ball in preparing our students to meet many new practices, and to ensure that as far as possible they leave school with certain attributes (outlined in the document) that we think will be essential. Our educational programs will involve a more extensive engagement with industry and universities, with new technologies in both the science and the arts, and with other schools around the country and across the globe. Schools will expand in tune with the evolving world of which they are a part.

Wesley Elsternwick students drumming

Elsternwick students find a rhythm in their music class

But for me schools, and Wesley especially, must focus on what we think is central to education in any era, and with renewed passion: the provision of a set of humane values that promote humility, integrity and mutual respect within a sustaining and nurturing community. And, perhaps more than ever, as digital isolation threatens to drive us further from human interaction, an enduring sense of the joy of living in the company of others. We have prided ourselves throughout our history on this aspect of our school. It is embedded in our culture, and may have never been more important.

An up-to-the-minute metaphor for this conviction is already with us in the new Learning in Residence at Glen Waverley: the world is coming to us as we reach out to it in a powerful and transforming way. And how appropriate that this is the first new project for “the next 150 years.”

With best wishes

Helen Drennen      


Comments:
Jeanette Pham
Dear Dr. Drennen,

I am a retired scientist living in Sydney, retaining only an honorary consultant role in antibiotic testing (http://cdstest.net/cds-laboratory-and-contact/).

Before writing this letter to you, I read with interest the history of Wesley College and I am truly impressed by the past and present activities of the College. The Global Language Convention in 2010 was a great success with delegates from 17 Universities and 140 Schools.
The Public Questions Society truly caught my attention with its progressive, innovative activities.
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years and Diploma programmes of Wesley College are the deciding factors that Wesley College should be the Institution to start this Global Special Project in Australia.
I always believe that the amazing power of social media through the internet, along with fame and money making, should be used to facilitate people to open their heart, to make this a better world. I also believe that a good, benevolent action, no matter how small, makes people feel good, positive and connected.
Having nurtured a dream for a fairer world over half a century, recently, with the photos provided by UNICEF, the song "Don't be afraid" I wrote specifically for the Project and the help of a couple of friends, I completed a video in three languages, English, French and Vietnamese. The video, carrying the message intended to make this world a fairer and better place for all, can be viewed on YouTube. Please find the links at the end of this letter.
I would like to propose a very simple yet immensely interesting Experiment/Project with the Video Viewers as Subjects.
For the Project, we need Students, Members of Public Questions Society and a supervising Teacher who are interested the topic "The Reaction of a person exposed to the Possibility to Perform a Simple Benevolent Act not requiring too much effort".
The Students send the link if the videos to their fellow students, friends and family, collect the data and monitor the results.
I have prepared the steps of the experiment, how to record the results and the subjects feedback.
The persons in charge of the Project only need to do the following steps:
1. Send the link to the subjects.
The subject, after viewing the video will tick the boxes and forward them to the sender. The boxes show simple options.
Like: Yes/No.
Donate: Yes/No.
Forward to friends and family: Yes/No.
Feeling: Good/ Neutral/ Not Good
Like to see Final/ Global Results: Yes/No.
The subject who ticks Yes in the Donate box, can donate directly to UNICEF Australia, even one or two dollars, using UNICEF link shown in the video.
2. Collect and tabulate the data periodically for ten weeks.

I hope you will find this Social Project unusual, practical and stimulating. If so, please let me know and we will discuss on how and when to start the Project.

If my vision is correct, the Project will expand to other Schools in various countries. One can imagine how this Global Project will gently and safely tip the world equilibrium to its fairer and kinder side. I would be so happy to see Wesley College leading the world in this Project.

Thank you in anticipation.


Kind regards,
Jeanette N Pham, Ph.D

Links to the videos:
Australia: https://youtu.be/l4UyJTkHrvg
USA: https://youtu.be/ASGRV5mSedY
Canada: https://youtu.be/bO-_lNzZA_M
UK: https://youtu.be/vbj_8pJZ0hM
Franca: https://youtu.be/AsoICCjgmtU
NZ: https://youtu.be/5e-I5HwEfoU
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