To coin a well-used phrase, you could have heard a pin drop in the room when Australian of the Year Grace Tame shared her personal experience of child sexual abuse with Wesley staff last month. In an address that was disturbing and inspiring, Grace recounted the trauma she suffered at the hands of one of her teachers, her struggle to achieve legal reform in Tasmania, and her mission to have Australia adopt national definitions of consent and sexual abuse. She is a truly courageous person – read her story in Features.
Grace is at the leading edge of a true awakening in our country, and at Wesley, the work continues. Pastor Kaylea Fearn’s story in Features offers us a peek into the Early Childhood Learning Centre at Elsternwick and their inventive approach to starting the conversation about positive, respectful relationships with the youngest members of our community. Need to teach the concepts of personal space and consent to a three-year-old? How about using bubbles and hula hoops? (Of course… brilliant!)
Learning about positive relationships… surely an essential – crucial – life skill?
Given that, why shouldn’t it be formally recognised as a part of any student’s list of accomplishments at school? The ATAR ranking system, with its distorted focus on academic achievement as the sole measure of educational success, is coming under increasing scrutiny. Is it right that an appraisal of one’s entire 13-year educational journey should come down to a few final frantic months of study in Year 12? Is it worth the unhealthy stress it causes, year after year, to Year 12 students and all the invested others surrounding them? Amidst growing concern about the efficacy of this narrow gauge of educational achievement, in her feature piece, Kim Bence poses a pressing question: Do we need new metrics of success?
We know that true success in life is rarely built on academic achievement alone. The ‘True Education’ we provide at Wesley is a living example of holistic learning, aimed at developing the whole person. It’s long been practised here, and its effects are far-reaching, in greater and lesser ways, across our community. Voices heard randomly in this issue of Lion provide simple examples. Mohan Du (OW2004), Founder and Chief Executive of Capital Alliance, succinctly states that ‘Clunes taught me that learning is far more complex than just a correct or incorrect answer.’ And one only has to read the list of insights current Year 6 student Milli Welberry gained on camp at Mallana this year to be reminded of the richness and the power of holistic learning experiences in our lives. (Read about Milli and the welcome return of Outdoor Education to Wesley in College Snapshots).
In her article, Kim introduces the special nation-wide research program the College is currently partnering in which aims to develop ‘a trusted and equitable currency for recognizing the full range of learning experiences, growth and achievements of our young people.’ The fruits of this partnership could well be transformative… for the health and well-being of our young people, and, by extension, for the benefit of us all.
Paul Munn, Lion Editor and features writer