Life-Long Learning

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
― Henry Ford

This is the season of new beginnings, soon the cold, frosty mornings will melt away to the renewal of spring.  The New Senior Syllabus is almost upon us, the Year 10s are currently in the midst of deciding their future path, visiting the Warwick and USQ careers day.  This can be a confusing and challenging time, but we are here to help.  The most important mantra at this time is to choose subjects you enjoy, you are achieving well in and that are prerequisites for University courses and careers.  As humans we never stop learning and as a consequence, there is always a way.

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
― Socrates

We have to continue to expand and adapt our minds to cope with the multitude of new experiences and situations, regardless of our age.  To best meet this challenge we need a new way of thinking.  Robert Marzano, respected educational researcher, has proposed what he calls A New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2000).  Marzano’s New Taxonomy is made up of three systems; Self-System, Metacognitive System and Cognitive System and the Knowledge Domain.

Let me give you an example:

Samantha, a Year Four student, is thinking about a birthday party she is going to attend this weekend when her teacher begins a maths lesson. Sam’s Self-System decides to stop thinking about the party and engage in the lesson. Her Metacognitive System tells her to pay attention and ask questions so she can do the assignment. Her Cognitive System provides her with the thinking strategies she needs to make sense of the teacher’s instructions. The mathematical knowledge about concepts and procedures makes it possible for her to complete the problems successfully. Each component of the New Taxonomy contributes to Sam’s success at learning the maths concept and skills of the lesson.

Knowledge can be accessed easily in the palm of your hand via any internet connected device, so it is the thinking domains that we, as a learning community, need to focus on.  We should not simply be filling the vessel with information but focusing on engaging and inspiring the student, giving them the ability to understand and use that information.  Your children may notice teachers changing their expectations and tasks with this in mind, increasing the cognitive difficulty, but not necessarily the amount of content.  This is especially prevalent in STEM lessons, where content is not as important as learning how to be creative, think for yourself, research and analyse sources of information.  In an external exam environment, where students will have to recall a whole year’s worth of knowledge, understanding how we think and how we learn becomes much more important.

This is the pedagogical basis of the QCAA new senior syllabus.  Here at SCOTS PGC we aim to focus on skills, on the ability to adapt, create and innovate, to enable our students to acquire the ability to solve problems and think for themselves.

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
― Albert Einstein

Finally a note about reporting in the new system.  From next year we will be changing reporting to align with the structure of the new syllabus, this will include when we send out reports and what information is included in them.  A letter will be sent out later this term outlining the changes and asking for feedback from the community.  The most significant changes is in how assessments are laid out and marked.  Each assessment will no longer have a grade attached to it, instead it will have a mark.  Different assessments will have different total marks but the criteria sheets and expectations will be similar across all subjects.  Grades will only be awarded at the end of each semester and, in the case of Year 11 and 12, these will be predicted grades only.  This is because the new system is set out for grades to be awarded on multiple assessments combined together and, for Year 12, this is including the external assessment.  Also grades will be A to E, with no + or – variations, as stipulated by the QCAA.  As with any change, this will be confusing and challenging but we will endeavour to ensure all students and parents know what is happening and why we are making the changes.  If you have any questions or queries about the new system please do not hesitate to get in touch.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 
― Albert Einstein

Marzano, R. J. (2000). Designing a new taxonomy of educational objectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Mark Richards – Director of Learning and Innovation