MECS Blog

Valuing Different Experiences

Valuing Different Experiences

Thursday, 25 May 2017  | Narelle - MECS Principal
As an educator, I often wonder what an ideal lesson should look like for students. Would it be one where students operate out of a strength area in order to experience success and build confidence? Or, should students be challenged to develop areas of weakness, which can also help to build resilience?Would an ideal lesson be one where students work together in teams developing their interpersonal skills? Or, should students be encouraged to work individually, developing their independence?

Is it better for students to practice current skills, working towards mastery? Or, is it better for them to seek opportunities for new knowledge and skills, adding to their repertoire?

It seems clear that there is no single ideal lesson. Rather, it is the range of experiences, which collectively contribute to a healthy and well-rounded education.

In our published teaching and learning framework, Transformational Education, a number of our facets speak to this desire. Our definition of Rich Learning states that learning in the Christian school is broad, deep, expansive, varied, reflective, playful and engaging, catering for the varied needs and interests of each student. In addition, Adventurous Methodologies enables teachers and students to make discerning use of a wide range of methods with which to explore and appreciate God’s world and Word.

Different learning experiences should stimulate a rich range of learning responses; from the ‘aha’ experience of discovery, curiosity and discernment; to the ‘ah’ experience of awe, wonder, delight, admiration and praise; and the ‘haha’ experience of playfulness, laughter, celebration, fun and delight; to the ‘ha’ experience of action, enterprise, service and industry.

When I think about my own life and faith, I believe that this also can also be enriched through a range of experiences. Over the years, numerous people have used the book of Psalms as a window into different life experiences. It is possible to find Psalms that link to many circumstances. People often turn to a Psalm to find comfort in their own situation; if you feel depressed, read Psalm 37; if your health fails, try Psalm 121.

Although this can be helpful, I wonder if, just as students benefit from a broad range of well-designed lessons, my own faith may be enriched by making sure that I reflect on a broad range of Psalms. For example, if I spend my time focused only on Psalm 23 (‘The Lord is my shepherd..’) and ignore Psalm 22 (‘…my God, why have you forsaken me?..’), or vice versa, my understanding of God and the world may become limited.

In the middle of a busy term, I am thankful for the rich tapestry of ‘lessons’ that our students have experienced this term. Whilst many formative lessons have taken place through camps, excursions, performances and sporting events, I am thankful that they have also taken place in quiet moments in classroom settings. Sometimes welcomed and sometimes uncomfortable; sometimes with other students and sometimes in isolation; sometimes as an ‘aha’ moment and sometimes through patient practice.

We do not want the learning experiences of our students, and therefore their understanding of God and the world, to be limited by a narrow and predictable curriculum. Our teachers work hard to make sure this is not the case and in doing so bring a richness and adventurous spirit to what happens at MECS day in and day out.
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