By Dr Ray Swann, Head of the Crowther Centre (ELC-VCE)

In 2017, Brighton Grammar signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education, a global leader in teaching and education research. The purpose of this MoU was to ensure that, through the Crowther, the BGS community would continue to have access to the latest and best thinking in education, as well as the opportunity to partner with the university to enable high-quality research and staff training for the benefit of the boys.

Part of the School’s wellbeing strategy is to ‘normalise’ help-seeking behaviours. We want to equip the boys with tools to assist them in managing life’s challenges as they arise. As part of this quest, it was a great pleasure for BGS to host Professor Dianne Vella-Broderick, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Positive Psychology, to complete her sabbatical through the MoU. During 2018, Dianne worked with a group of 15 Year 10 boys to develop Bio-Dash.

Bio-Dash is a program that uses biofeedback to improve performance. Biofeedback enables us to gain a greater awareness of many of our physiological functions, with the goal of being able to manipulate these functions at will. Bio-Dash assists the boys to develop mindfulness and stress-management strategies using a game-based console. Via biofeedback (specifically, brain activity, respiration, heart rate and skin conductance), they can see their progress and improvement. One boy commented: “I figured out what calms me down best so I can use these skills in everyday life.”

The aim of the program is to develop mind fitness (in the same way we develop other fitness). Another boy said: “I believe this program will be great for helping to manage my own stress and it will also be a fun experience to pass on the stress-relieving techniques to younger people. I am also looking forward to being involved in this study so that I feel I am part of something major.”

The program will be further developed in 2019 with Year 9 students. Dianne believes that this work will position BGS as a “lighthouse school for addressing mental health issues through biofeedback”.


Reprinted from the Meliora Sequmar, Autumn 2019.