Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School

Catch Up: The World is Turning

Hearing someone breathlessly announce a brand new educational idea and then find that it’s something we (Glenaeon in particular and Steiner schools in general) have been doing or advocating forever, is a regular occurrence these days. Positive Education, Mindfulness, Sustainability, Organic School Gardens, Whole Child Education, collaborative teaching teams, creativity and imagination in education, the list goes on. Here are three such moments that have happened to me just in the past week: 

ATAR is not enough:
I was at a forum organised by the Australian National University, Australia’s elite university, on their new admission requirements. From 2020 admission to all ANU undergraduate degrees will require a score on cocurricular activities as well as an academic score. The new requirement will mean that to get into ANU a student will have to demonstrate service, creativity and/or community participation, an acknowledgement that for success in life, a commitment to service and “joining” is essential. At last there is recognition that the whole person counts, even for entry to university. 

I had contacted their admissions office about Glenaeon’s Senior School program and they were highly impressed: a Glenaeon student would automatically pass this cocurricular requirement for entry simply on the basis of their completion of the Glenaeon Record of Accomplishment over our Years 11 and 12. We have always ensured our senior students completed projects in service, creativity and outdoor education as a balance and complement to our academic program. At last the world is catching up.

NAPLAN
The results of NAPLAN 2018 were released this week and it’s a dreary result indeed. From a SMH article this week:

There have been no gains in numeracy, spelling or grammar and punctuation tests for any year group in NSW since the standardised tests were first introduced in 2008, and writing results have gone backwards for all year groups since 2011, with students achieving the lowest results ever recorded this year….

The NAPLAN writing test was heavily criticised this year in an international report that found it is "extremely limited and highly reductive", and received the support of NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes. Mr Stokes also raised concerns about the validity of the latest NAPLAN results and reiterated his calls for the tests to be replaced by a new simplified assessment.

Sound familiar? Yes this is precisely what Glenaeon has been saying about these high stakes standardized tests ever since they were introduced in 2008. Now the Minister for Education in NSW is agreeing. At last the world is catching up.

Play
Yet more articles on the importance play in early childhood landed in my inbox this week. Yet another professional association has labelled the move to early academics as unhelpful for children, and reinforcing the importance of movement in learning. From The Independent in the UK:

School leaders will debate a motion calling for “physically active learning” to be made an integral part of teaching at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) (principals) conference.

In the US it’s the American Academy of Pediatrics, and their latest publication is titled: The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. They urge pediatricians to be advocates for childhood play

At a time when early childhood programs are pressured to add more didactic components and less playful learning, pediatricians can play an important role in emphasizing the role of a balanced curriculum that includes the importance of playful learning for the promotion of healthy child development.

Glenaeon has always promoted play as children’s work, integrating the child’s mind and body into a healthy whole, and processing our first form of learning. We’ve been waiting for the world to turn and catch up. It’s slowly happening.