Academic News

By Mr Jason Shaw, Academic Dean | Posted: Thursday March 9, 2017

The following speech was given at assembly this week by Mr Jason Shaw, our Academic Dean

Tena Koutou katoa,

We’ve just heard from three students who have the right approach to their learning. However, today I’d like to suggest that a lot of the time we actually get it wrong in how we go about in our approach to learning.

Too often we treat achievement and learning as something that is ‘done to us’, and this way of thinking can make our learning less effective.

Too often we only think of gaining the 80 credits that we need to pass NCEA; we only think of how we can pass the test at the end of the unit; we only show interest in the class work that will directly count towards the end goal but not about our actual learning; we allow others to persuade us to do what they want to do; or we sometimes persuade ourselves through our own attitudes to ignore the challenge of going beyond our comfort zones with the effort we might give; or perhaps we only want those who teach us to spoon feed us the answers rather than actively think for ourselves.

Such thinking or attitude makes learning something that is ‘done to us’, and makes learning overbearing, which in turn can cause unnecessary stress, make us struggle with time management and inhibit us from planning some effective goals for our futures. This way of thinking stops us from taking action and ‘owning’ our achievement and learning for ourselves.

What we need to do is to turn those arrows around to the direction in which we want to progress. Instead of hoping to gain 80 credits at the end of the year, we look to see what skills and knowledge we can gain each day in our lessons; instead of counting the days down until the due date of a test arrives, we look at what we have learned at the end of each day, and what skills we still need to develop come the next lesson; instead of waiting to be spoon fed, we explore the topic beyond the classroom, finding info and practising skills for ourselves; We choose to be an individual rather than stick with the group mentality of ‘she’ll be right’, and we are able to recognise when we start slipping in our own standards of work ethics and we do something about it ourselves.

We suddenly become aware that achievement is just as much about attitude as it is to do with ability. We find that we set goals that are challenging but achievable if we push ourselves, rather than goals that don’t really matter whether we get there or not. We will find ourselves still busy with time constraints, but managing ourselves because we are getting something out of our learning each day other than just a grade.

‘Owning’ your learning requires resilience – an ability to set challenging goals that leave most of the responsibility of succeeding in your own hands.

Today we have heard from Freya, Matthew and Emma – three students who have taken the responsibility of ‘owning’ their learning and making their education work for them. This owning of your learning begins as early as Year 7. As the Academic Dean, I’m really hoping and looking forward to seeing you all achieve great results at the end of the year, but I’m even more interested in seeing the resilience that you give in the journey along the way.

Today I challenge you, over the next month leading up to the Easter break, to own your learning.

Aim to learn something new or develop a skill before the end of each school day. Set short term goals as well as the longer term goals that mean that you have to work to achieve them, and when you see me around the grounds, stop and tell me what your goals are and how you have made progress towards them that week. Become accountable

The challenge that I set for you is not a new one. It is interesting to find the words of poet, playwright and novelist, Walter Scott, from two hundred years ago are identical to the challenge presented to you today: “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” Dare to accept the challenge in both your conduct and your effort. I look forward to seeing you do so throughout this entire year.