Live to learn because we learn to live

At Danebank we always emphasise that you need to take responsibility for your own learning.

Don’t expect the teachers to spoon-feed you. Isolate the areas where you need more information or where you need to know more and seek them out. Engage with different and challenging ideas and work out what you think. Be an active not a passive learner and be prepared to be a life-long learner.

As highly qualified and experienced educators, your teachers know that if you are always seeking to learn more, to know more, to have a deep understanding of something – these are the approaches to learning and to life that will give you a more exciting and diverse understanding of the nature of life.

Here at Danebank we live to learn because we learn to live. So while I was away, that is what I was doing ... I was learning more.

I spent some time in the United Kingdom. Those I met with in England communicated in a manner that was at times less straight forward than we are in  Australia. They were very polite – even their road signs are polite.

This meant I often had to question and keep on questioning to get a deep understanding of life in the schools, in just the same way that, if you are striving to live to learn, you will be doing in each of your classes.

Problems look different
Sometimes when they talked about the problems and issues in their schools they looked very different to the nature of those issues in our schools and sometimes it was hard to understand when something that is seen as good and positive in Australia is not viewed the same way in England, Scotland, Italy or France.

I visited schools in England and Scotland. One in central London, one in the Lakes district and one in central Edinburgh, spending time seeing those schools in action.

Lessons from 7.30am to 5pm
The school in the Lakes District was on the shore of Lake Windermere and was heavily into outdoor education. They spend half a day every fortnight on outdoor education: everything from sailing and canoeing to rock climbing, trekking and open water swimming.

There was a downside to that, though, as their lessons started each day at 7.30am and went until 5pm – note, that was in the classroom lessons not co-curricular activities. The co-curricular were built into the school day and Saturday morning. However it was a really exciting school.

At the three schools I saw many different ways of approaching education. I saw students whose approach to school was very much like yours and students whose engagement with education looked totally different. Every day I learned more.

I did a lot of reading and research while I was away. I gave myself time to read a piece of research, think about it, read it again, summarize it and then think about the questions or interesting conclusions that the article or book raised in my mind: just the way that I assume our senior girls are doing as they engage with theory in texts and other resources.

I also attended two conferences: one on the future of education and one on innovation and creativity in education.

At these conferences I heard many learned women and men talking about their areas of expertise. Often I found their ideas very different and very challenging and every day I learned more and more, just as you do.

If I had to sum up what I learned from each school and from each person who presented at the conferences and from my readings and, most particularly, what I learned when I applied all of those things to every aspect of Danebank, it was that they are and we are TGNTBB: too good not to be better.

When we look at what is happening in our classrooms at Danebank, in our sport and creative and performing arts, at our outdoor education program – it is all good. The very fact that it is good means that we don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to fix things so we must say we are in the perfect position to make it better.

When I look at each one of you and read your report the same is true for you – on the whole things are good. Don’t be complacent. Don’t sit back and wait for others to make your learning and your life better – it is up to you – you are TGNTBB

Learning to live
So as you go through the term ahead I urge you to be active learners. To always be looking to ask more and more questions. To see what is presented in class as the starting point for you to know more.

I urge that you endeavour to understand deeply, to make sure that you are living to learn in all aspects of your life – if you are living to learn more, not only about your maths or English or music, but about friendships and anger management and your relationship with Jesus and God and the nature of politics and how best to support members of your friendship group, your family and others in society – if you are living to learn in all areas, you will be learning to live.

Mrs Maryanne Davis, Principal