From the Head of Middle School, Jeremy Martin
On an overcast Wednesday morning it was the Year 8 boys’ chance to bring glory and honour to their House in the House swimming. Yet again, there were many fine performances and great House spirit on show – well done to all participants and thanks to all staff involved in making the event run so smoothly, particularly Tim Marshall. The results, the closest in many a year, will be announced in assembly next week.
Only a few hours after witnessing the Year 8 boys giving their all in the pool, I was in a music classroom (stepping in for Mr Furtado) leading the last part of a Year 8 Choral class. They did a great job and as I left two things really struck me. Firstly, despite working in a management position, I am still passionate about and motivated by being in the classroom – my regular Year 7 Choral classes are without doubt amongst the most rewarding experiences I have each week. And secondly, the broad and varied educational experience these boys receive is a great privilege and helps shape them into well-rounded young men.
Our boys represent Brighton Grammar School in many ways. Whether it is in the classroom, catching the train or bus home or participating in activities in the wider community, at all times they are representatives of our School. Their behaviour, the manners they display, the way they present themselves (correct school uniform, caps, smart haircuts and polished shoes) and the respect they show to themselves, to their classmates and to others clearly demonstrates the culture of our School. While they are generally very thoughtful and responsible, we are never complacent about the way our boys behave and represent themselves and our School. We set high expectations and the staff acknowledge, promote and reward positive behaviour. Equally important, staff encourage boys to behave in a manner that is safe, promotes and respects the learning of others and accept increasing responsibility for their actions. This is achieved through our behaviour system – a system that provides boys with the structure and boundaries they crave and respond to.
Don’t forget to check the School wide section
News relating to the whole of the School will now appear in the School wide section of the eNews – click on the button below to take a look.
This week, School wide e-News includes Ross Featherston’s comment on International Women’s Day, news on Old Boy Charlie Pickering’s new project, an insight into the origins of the name Annandale, provisional 2017 term dates, information on a champagne masterclass, and this week’s music news.
Teaching and learning
Learning is hard, and from a neurological point of view this makes sense. Learning new information or skills requires practice and concerted mental effort, this fact never changes but the rewards are there when we persevere through the discomfort of the learning experience.
Recall the last time you learnt a new skill. For me it was learning the ukulele. At first it was awkward. Often it is a struggle. And rarely could the product of my efforts be described as music. But every now and then, a string of notes would come together and resemble the song they once came from.
From a neurological perspective, this also makes sense. Imagine a dense jungle that stands between your beach house and a beautiful beach. The first few times you fight your way through, it is a struggle. Pushing through branches as they flick back in your face, brambles scratching your legs, grass up to your knees. You’re so cut up that the beach is hardly worth it. After a few more goes, some semblance of a path begins to form – the branches and brambles retreat. And as you keep trying, day after day, walking through the bush, gradually a path starts to become noticeable. And after long enough, the path is established and will stay there without much upkeep. The beach is now yours to enjoy.
How learning occurs in your brain can be thought of in the same way. As we learn new skills, new pathways in the brain are being formed, but it’s not easy, at least at first. When I first picked up my ukulele, the fret board rattled, I fumbled over each note – and my brain hurt after 10 minutes of extreme concentration. This mental effort is the energy required to make new pathways in the brain.
Now, I don’t need to look at the instrument, my fingers know where to go and the ukulele makes (roughly) the sound I want it to. But, not to blow my own ukulele, I only got there by pushing through that discomfort and putting in the effort. Now, the fruits of my labour are a rendition of Somewhere over the Rainbow that is loosely recognisable to some listeners, nonetheless a significant upskilling on my pre-ukulele state.
Our boys embark on this learning journey every day, and it is hard work as learning always is. It’s hard work turning up to every class and deciding to switch on, to process new information and learn new skills, and if it is easy – our brains aren’t actually changing and we are not learning.
This is a skill for life. Adults who regularly learn new things enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing and improved physical health of their brain. So, I like to remind the boys and myself that learning is hard and it is hard by its nature. And if it is hard, then you are doing it right.
Head of Middle School Science
BGS keeps its own time, so celebrating Palm Sunday twelve days in advance is not something out of the ordinary.
The format this year was somewhat different: the students gathered in House groups and walked to the chapel with palm fronds, to meet outside St Andrew’s and to hear the story of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem.
Many know the story: Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. Thee group co-opted a donkey and Jesus rode into town accompanied by great shouting and excitement.
It was really a big bash, because after all the people were expecting a ‘king’ with an army who would turn the city into uproar and rid them of the cursed oppressors once and for all. Instead they got a prophet on a donkey and some dishevelled and rather disorganised followers: not likely to make a great deal of difference and no real threat to the power of Rome. Is it any wonder that the mob turned against him so easily?
What was going on? What impact does it have on our journey? The boys have begun the journey of discovering what difference God can really make to their lives and their world.
Next week we gather with the disciples for Jesus’s last meal. In the last week of Term 1 we participate in an experience of primitive justice. Watch this space for the opportunity to join in the events.
With my prayers for all.
Fr Tony Poole
Winter sport preparation
With just two rounds of APS Summer Sport remaining, much is being done behind the scenes to prepare for the upcoming winter season.
In next week’s eNews, you will find a detailed list of training days/times and season dates for Terms 2 and 3. It should be noted that due to internal trials taking place on Saturday 16 April and the ANZAC long weekend on Saturday 23 April, the APS winter competition doesn’t begin until Saturday 30 April. This of course gives Year 7 parents, in particular, extra time to organise winter sports training and playing uniforms.
I am pleased to report that as per 2015, every Year 7 boy has received their first preference for the upcoming winter season. Year 8 is a little more complex as we are over-subscribed in AFL football, and I am working with those boys originally hoping to change into the sport in order to find a suitable solution. If your son is considering a change from football to another sport at Year 8, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Why don’t we advertise season-long fixtures?
One question I have received a lot throughout this term is regarding why we don’t produce season-long fixtures for individual sports. While appreciating that this would help enormously with Saturday morning routines (especially for those with a number of kids to transport), it simply isn’t a reality due to the number of fixtures that have the capacity to change weekly. Experience shows that when season-long fixtures are produced, our natural tendency is to not check the eNews or BGS App as consistently as we might. When domino effects cause a raft of minor changes to times and venues, this can see members from the same team ending up in different locations as different times. To use specific examples, of the 44 Middle School fixtures over the past fortnight, 19 have been amended or changed in the week of the fixture. We send them out on a Thursday afternoon to provide parents peace of mind that they are correct.
Your support is wonderful!
I am of course terribly biased when it comes to BGS, but I feel the parental support offered throughout Term 1 has continued the extraordinary standard set in years gone by. In visiting a range of venues in recent weeks, the numbers of parents and the vocal support witnessed is no doubt valued by the boys and helps them to perform at a higher standard during competition. Well done and thank you to the off-field crew of 2016.
Head of Sport & Activities
Hockey Super Clinic
Gold medallist Travis Brooks to coach at our Hockey Super Clinic
We are excited to announce that Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Winner and BGS Old Boy, Travis Brooks will be part of our coaching team at the Wicks Club Hockey Super Clinic in April. Travis will join Vic Hockey coaches as well as our BGS coaches in delivering a program that is aimed at improving stick skills, developing ball movement and teaching in game skills for players of all skill levels.
This is an exciting time to be involved in Hockey at BGS; we have three state players in our 1st XI, our Senior Coach, Mr Patrick Sanders plays in the State League and our new assistant coach, Josh Bretherton represents Victoria and is trialling with our National U/21 team. All these coaches started playing hockey while at BGS so we encourage the boys to take this opportunity to learn from people who have been in the same boat.
All BGS boys playing hockey or interested in hockey are welcome to attend. Please see the flyer for more information. You can reserve your place here. If you have any queries, please contact Director of Sport Luke Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org or, Wicks Club President, Jenny Collie email@example.com
Click here to view this week’s parenting tip: Insights: Developing your child’s Social Media Scripts.
Middle School notices
The Middle School library at BGS has a rule about using laptops before school, during recess and lunchtime: students are not allowed to use them.
There are three reasons for this rule. The first is that the Middle School library is designed as a quiet reading space where boys and staff select fiction books, magazines, biographies, popular non-fiction, graphic novels and short stories to borrow or read in the comfortable surroundings. Secondly, teachers set homework to be completed at home, and this must be planned to fit into a boy’s busy extra-curricular schedule and family life. Thirdly, recess and lunchtime are ideally times for eating and socialising and to provide refreshment from indoor academic studies through physical activity out in the fresh air and sunshine.
The ‘no laptops in the MS library’ rule also hopes to encourage boys to select from the wide choice of quality adolescent literature on the shelves. The importance and value of reading for teenagers has been well documented, and the academic as well as psychological and emotional benefits have been explored by numerous educational specialists.
However, we need to reiterate to the boys how vital it is that we preserve a crucial place for unwired, unplugged and unconnected learning. Recent US research revealed that large numbers of high school graduates were not academically ready for college who, having graduated from high school, didn’t have the knowledge and skills to tackle readings, tests, and papers at the next level. That was the fate of 43% of students at two-year public colleges and 29% of students at four-year public colleges (Strong American Schools, 2008; U.S. Department of Education, 2003).
This inability to read extended texts, says the research, results from three factors: Firstly, it cites an unwillingness to probe, to concentrate and give careful thought to long texts, while the more popular practice of digital reading requires fast skimming of screens, hastily produced and consumed blogs, chats, and comments, with little opportunity for pause or reflection. Secondly, the report referred to an incapacity for uninterrupted thinking, (how long ago did we last check our texts, Instagram feeds and emails?). Finally, it described our current inability to be receptive to deep thinking because, after all, aren’t we all “content creators”, constantly contributing to YouTube and Facebook?
The Middle School library aims to be a welcoming space with a friendly, social atmosphere. There is nothing more pleasing than seeing the boys collaboratively choosing a book to read, setting up chess games or quietly chatting while they write in their books during the breaks in the school day after they have had something to eat and drink.
If we are to encourage effective time management skills, good interpersonal relationships and respect for balanced and varied activities in our busy lives, this ‘rule’ has good reason to continue.
Timothy and John fundraiser
It has been all systems go for the charity committee this week. There were a large number of applicants for Charity Committee positions and a high calibre of applications. The candidates were shortlisted and whittled down to four students to represent the Middle School. The positions will be officially announced shortly.
The first charity event of the year in the Middle School will be an Own Clothes Day which will culminate in a Touch Football game between staff and students on Friday 11 March. This will be an event to raise money for the two Kenyan sponsor boys, Timothy and John.
Kenya is a country in which many school-age children suffer from extreme poverty, lack of access to education and terrorism. Many children are forced into child labour and have few opportunities.
For the past few years the BGS Middle School has sponsored Timothy and John. We have given these boys an education. Without the School’s support, this education would have been unavailable to the boys. The Middle School pays for both Timothy and John’s education and we have a substantial amount of money to raise this year to ensure this continues.
The boys have been busy this week selling raffle tickets for the student team, and it is really encouraging to see boys offering their time and energy in support of the cause.
A reminder of how boys and parents can support this event:
- By promoting the event by talking about it at home and at school.
- Contributing a gold coin donation for the Own Clothes Day.
- Representing the Middle School students by purchasing raffle tickets (most tickets = a chance to represent the MS Touch student team).
- Boys – by assisting to run the barbeque, or coming down to support your fellow Middle School staff and students.
- Parents – if you have a spare half hour on Friday come down to the Crowther Oval (1pm-1.30pm). There will be a barbeque, music and a chance to watch the Middle School student’s vs staff touch football game.
Ute Full of Food, Friday 18 March
We also have the first Ute Full of Food fundraiser to follow on Friday 18 March. We encourage all boys and parents to contribute as many non-perishable food items next week to your House tutor.
BGS has been involved for a number of year in supporting St Mark’s Anglican Church in Fitzroy, and are the biggest contributor to the Ute Full of Food. St. Mark’s Community Centre provides a drop-in and welfare centre in partnership with Anglicare Victoria. Each day up to 100 people will visit the Centre for various reasons: to receive a food parcel or other assistance, to relax in the lounge, to play pool, to play in or support one of our sporting teams, or to receive advice or referral.
Please give generously any non-perishable food items to make a difference to the lives of many people.
Upcoming charity dates
Friday 11 March: Own Clothes Day and Middle School touch football game (staff vs. students).
Friday 18 March: Ute Full of Food.
Middle School dates for the diary
Friday 11 March
Own Clothes Day
Touch football game (staff vs. students)
Monday 14 March
Labor Day public holiday
Friday 18 March
Year 8 – Extension Studies – F1 Grand Prix
Ute Full of Food
Tuesday 22 March
Cricket Presentation Night – Middle School – Nexus: 6 – 9pm
Wednesday 23 March
Tennis Presentation Night – Rosstrevor Hall: 7 – 9pm
Thursday 24 March
Last day of Term 1
Monday 11 April
First day of Term 2
Black swimming goggles