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MDSS 2021 Sporting Calendar

To view the upcoming sporting calendar for Mackay sports in 2021 click here

There is a world of difference between ‘telling’ and ‘teaching’.

Today a group of delightful students (all our students are delightful) asked if they could interview me on camera. One of the questions they asked pertained to my role and it was something akin to ‘What is the hardest thing about your job?” I’m unsure what they were expecting, but I believe my response surprised them, because I have never been away from the classroom in the thirty-five years I have been in education (in one capacity or another). I have a cartoon on the wall of my office that I first cut out and placed on a pin-board in another office, in another school, on another continent twenty-six years ago. I believe it’s self-explanatory but it sums up what for me has constituted the single greatest conundrum of my career, namely how does one achieve perfect alignment between what is taught and what students learn? The process of teaching is so often a consistent demonstration of the law of unintended effect. I believe it’s one of the reasons so many teachers hate marking – one tends to come face to face with one’s own inadequacy. One is often left with irrefutable evidence, that what students actually learn is sometimes just a remote approximation of what you believed you were teaching them. So, if learning was not the end product of one’s teaching, then can one even say that any teaching occurred? Such are the joys, and the agonies, of this profession.

SEan                

There is a world of difference between ‘telling’ and ‘teaching’ and good teachers never stop looking for that critical combination of skills that constitute ‘a magic bullet’. One also learns – very quickly – that ‘gut-feeling’ about how a lesson proceeded is completely deceptive. I recall once telling off one of my classes, after they produced particularly bad results, that I felt they had led me down the proverbial garden path by giving me the distinct impression they understood what I was explaining. They had appeared to be so engaged, so interested, so attentive … When I mentioned this one student said “Sir, you appeared to be having such a good time, that we didn’t have the heart to tell you we didn’t know what was going on.” Passion, enthusiasm and effort, in any line of work, is to be welcomed, but sadly unless it’s complemented with significant skill, outstanding achievement will forever remain elusive. I say this because I know so many students this term have given it their all and still feel that they have not been rewarded with top marks. Acceptance of the fact that effort does not always pay a dividend is the first step towards adulthood.

Year 11 Subject Change Information

Year 11 students are reminded that subject changes may only occur at the completion of Unit One or Unit Two. Once students have commenced Unit Three, they are not permitted to change subjects because of QCAA guidelines. This means that Year 11 students have two opportunities this year to change subjects. These are in the two weeks immediately after May 25 and again after October 5. Year 12 students are NOT permitted to change subjects.

If students wish to change subjects at the end Unit One, they should take note of the following procedures:

  • All students must complete an application to change subject form. These are available from College Reception.
  • Application forms must be signed by parents and by the Subject Co-ordinators of both the discontinued and new subjects.
  • Students should not pick subjects based on lines. Instead they should refer to the subject guides and select a subject they wish to study. Line changes regularly occur when subject change forms are submitted due to current class sizes.
  • You will not be contacted if the subject change was approved. You will only be contacted if the change cannot be approved.
  • Forms are available now, but changes will not occur until after May 25. Students should check Student Café regularly after this date as approved changes will appear on your timetable.
  • Students who need additional career guidance are encouraged to make an appointment with the college counsellor Ms Danika Hurley.

Students and parents are encouraged to contact the College reception if they have any questions regarding the change of subject process.

There is a world of difference between ‘telling’ and ‘teaching’.

Today a group of delightful students (all our students are delightful) asked if they could interview me on camera. One of the questions they asked pertained to my role and it was something akin to ‘What is the hardest thing about your job?” I’m unsure what they were expecting, but I believe my response surprised them, because I have never been away from the classroom in the thirty-five years I have been in education (in one capacity or another). I have a cartoon on the wall of my office that I first cut out and placed on a pin-board in another office, in another school, on another continent twenty-six years ago. I believe it’s self-explanatory but it sums up what for me has constituted the single greatest conundrum of my career, namely how does one achieve perfect alignment between what is taught and what students learn? The process of teaching is so often a consistent demonstration of the law of unintended effect. I believe it’s one of the reasons so many teachers hate marking – one tends to come face to face with one’s own inadequacy. One is often left with irrefutable evidence, that what students actually learn is sometimes just a remote approximation of what you believed you were teaching them. So, if learning was not the end product of one’s teaching, then can one even say that any teaching occurred? Such are the joys, and the agonies, of this profession.

SEan

There is a world of difference between ‘telling’ and ‘teaching’ and good teachers never stop looking for that critical combination of skills that constitute ‘a magic bullet’. One also learns – very quickly – that ‘gut-feeling’ about how a lesson proceeded is completely deceptive. I recall once telling off one of my classes, after they produced particularly bad results, that I felt they had led me down the proverbial garden path by giving me the distinct impression they understood what I was explaining. They had appeared to be so engaged, so interested, so attentive … When I mentioned this one student said “Sir, you appeared to be having such a good time, that we didn’t have the heart to tell you we didn’t know what was going on.” Passion, enthusiasm and effort, in any line of work, is to be welcomed, but sadly unless it’s complemented with significant skill, outstanding achievement will forever remain elusive. I say this because I know so many students this term have given it their all and still feel that they have not been rewarded with top marks. Acceptance of the fact that effort does not always pay a dividend is the first step towards adulthood.

 

Curriculum Information 2020 - Exam Block/ Reporting Periods/ Year 11 Change of Subject

Although many parents might be lamenting the current online learning scenario and earnestly wishing for a speedy return to normality, this situation offers unparalleled opportunities for quality learning. The enforced absence of most students from school has thrown the necessity of reading comprehension into very sharp relief. Students are being tasked with written instructions that are issued without the usual, teacher-led, ‘voice-over’ to clarify or enlarge upon portions of text that are italicized or underscored for emphasis.

M. Scott Peck writing from more than twenty years ago, lamented that the greatest problem of our age was simplistic thinking. He rightly identified thinking, as a difficult, complex process, with a course of direction, a lapse of time, and a series of steps or stages that lead to some result. He observed that to think well is a laborious, often painstaking process until one becomes accustomed to being ‘thoughtful’. The fact is that the same principles apply when it comes to being able to read with a refined and nuanced understanding. Many intelligent students are hobbled and handicapped by the fact that society has prioritised acquiring technological dexterity over developing reading comprehension. In the last two weeks, I have been amazed at the swiftness with which many staff have acquired technological skills, which only tends to reinforce the notion that they are a mere tool, whose use facilitates access to material that requires far more complex cognitive processes.

This period also provides students with an opportunity to spend extended periods writing.

 I spend a significant portion of my teaching time stressing the connection between the capacity to think and one’s ability to write. If we spend the first four or so years of our schooling learning to write, then the remaining eight are about, or should be about, writing to learn. Ultimately, the success of any schooling system, be it public or private, is the extent to which we succeed in developing the capacity for independent thought, and I do mean independent thought. Scott Peck says we are suffering from a psychiatric illness commonly known as passive dependent personality disorder. Such dependency is, at root, a disorder related to thinking – specifically, a resistance to thinking for ourselves. Everybody recognises that in the context of an argument, one’s own views are sharpened, defined and refined. Assignments and the lengthy process that ought to be engaged in when creating them, is an opportunity for our own internal argument to develop – an argument with oneself. The actual writing of the assignment should never be the ‘end point’ or culmination of the process, it is the process. Writing is an integral, inseparable part of thinking. Very often we have no idea what we truly think until we commit our thoughts to paper. Paper gives us an opportunity to assess the depth, plausibility and validity of our thought. What sounds plausible in your mind, is often laughable in ink.

Maybe one day our students will look back at this period of adversity and difficulty in their lives and echo Winston Churchill’s immortal words: “This was our finest hour”.

Changes to Exam Block and Reporting Periods The Year 11 exam block which was originally scheduled for Week 5 of Term 2 (18 – 22 May) has been cancelled. The reporting period for both Year 11 and 12 will now occur at the end of the Semester. Progressive updating of results for individual subjects will continue to be available throughout the course of the term through Student Café and Parent Lounge.

Year 11 Change of Subject There are very few opportunities for Students in Year 11 to make subject changes and the first of only two opportunities is fast approaching. Year 11 students will transition into Unit Two at the beginning of Week 6, the same week they are due to be back at school. Because there is a high probability that Covid-19 restrictions will prevent the scheduled face-to-face parent/teacher/student conferencing from taking place, teachers will be making recommendations to parents when the available evidence indicates that a change of subject might be advisable. Teachers will begin making telephone calls from 11 May onwards.

MDSS 2021 Sporting Calendar
04 Feb 2021

To view the upcoming sporting calendar for Mackay sports in 2021 click here

Read More
There is a world of difference between ‘telling...
20 Jul 2020There is a world of difference between ‘telling’ and ‘teaching’.

Today a group of delightful students (all our students are delightful) asked if they could interview me on camera. One of the questions they asked pertained to my role and it was something akin to ‘What is the hardest thing about your job?” I’m ... 

Read More
There is a world of difference between ‘telling...
20 Jul 2020There is a world of difference between ‘telling’ and ‘teaching’.

Today a group of delightful students (all our students are delightful) asked if they could interview me on camera. One of the questions they asked pertained to my role and it was something akin to ‘What is the hardest thing about your job?” I’m ... 

Read More
Year 11 Subject Change Information
30 Apr 2020

Year 11 students are reminded that subject changes may only occur at the completion of Unit One or Unit Two. Once students have commenced Unit Three, they are not permitted to change subjects because of QCAA guidelines. This means that Year 11 studen ... 

Read More
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