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.

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