From the Head of Crowther Centre – Dr Ray Swann

Report Time

As the term comes to a close, it is a good time to review progress – not just academic, but progress for all goals. Sometimes, the ideal moment to do that is when your son’s report comes out, but it is also ok to pick another time later in the break to talk it all over.

Whether your son is older or younger, the aspect that is most important is simply that you seek to hear from him – how did he feel he went, and what was the ‘story’ of the term (the good, the challenging and the interesting). We’ve talked a lot about how to set up these kinds of conversations, and over time we’ve learnt that the main elements are:

  1. Agree on a time together to open up the discussion.
    (that way he can think about some of the things that he wants to raise ahead of time, and so can you)
  2. Flag with your son what you’d like to discuss.
  3. When it comes time for the chat, listen.
    (as Stephen Covey teaches us – seek first to understand, rather than to be understood)
  4. Re-inforce the positives in your son’s behaviours.
    (you can use his character strengths do to this)
  5. Focus more on the process than the outcome.
  6. Finish the conversation with some next steps and an agreement to review goals again.
    (you could use a structure like: what worked well (this term), and it would be even better if (what I can improve in))
  7. And finally, to use James Kerr’s words – how do you ‘reward and recognise’ the achievements and the positives?

About Skills

Some of you may have seen the recent Washington Post article on what the technology company Google has learned about its employees. According to the author, in 2013 Google wanted to test the idea that they needed to hire the best grads from the most elite science universities. To do so, they reviewed all of their HR data (including recruitment and progress) since their beginning in 1998. Titled ‘Project Oxygen’, the results demonstrated that the most important characteristics of success for their employees were:

  1. Being a good coach;
  2. Communicating and listening well;
  3. Possessing insights into others;
  4. Having empathy and being supportive;
  5. Being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and
  6. Being able to make connections across complex ideas.

Interestingly, there was a massive disconnect between what they were recruiting for, and what defined success for their employees. In other words, being a great programmer did not even make the list!

This message is consistent with the opinion of writers like Tony Wagner (Harvard Graduate School of Education), who argue that schools should make an increased effort to address the areas of building creativity, empathy and design. In thinking about this and the structures and outcomes that we have, how do we create programs that foster creativity and the right kinds of skills? How do we balance out the need to ensure that the boys are progressing academically, but not at the expense of creativity and innovation? Whilst we have embedded quite a number of creativity projects at Brighton Grammar from K–12, next term we are trialling a new voluntary program – Dr Swann’s Motorbike. This program will see a group of Secondary School boys from Years 7–12 restore then auction off a vintage styled motorcycle. More to come!



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