Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

Learning for living, Character for life, Hope for the Future

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‘Defining and Developing Spirituality in Christian Schools’ – Mark Treadwell

Circle - Phil's Provocations
At ACEL last week I listened to Mark Treadwell speak about conceptual learning. Today I received in my email inbox, eCSM, from Circle which included a link to Mark’s article that I’ve linked here. It is worth reading carefully and pondering on. What does developing a comprehensive program for embedding Christian values in learning and teaching mean for the development of our students’ character and their relationships with each other and our God.


Mark Treadwell writes:

‘…Schools that embed Christian values into their culture and promotion subsequently attract a clientele that desires such values. This provides the school with a warranty to espouse those values with clarity and purpose. The elements that contribute to the formation of a student’s character and principles should be developed in a planned and strategic manner and done so explicitly and with no apology. This requires a good understanding of how virtues can be developed, encouraged and outworked in a student’s life to a point where they become dispositions that are applied with passion…

Read on…


John Hattie interviews Pasi Sahlberg

Thank you to my colleague, Mark Vodell, Principal of Gilson College, for sending me a link to another video worth viewing and reflecting on. The blurb from the source introduces the participants and the context.

‘In Conversation with Pasi Sahlberg and John Hattie: two of the world’s leading education experts on how Australia can learn from others and improve its educational outcomes.

Pasi Sahlberg is Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in the Ministry of Education in Finland. He has worked as a teacher, teacher-educator, policy advisor and director, and for the World Bank and European Commission.

Professor John Hattie is director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education. His influential 2008 book Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement is believed to be the world’s largest evidence-based study into the factors which improve student learning.’


While I believe we certainly can learn from the experiences of other countries, I also agree with perspectives taken from a number of presentations at this year’s Australian Council of Educational Leadership (ACEL) Conference held in Brisbane this week: We also have much we can learn from each other in Australia – across sectors, systems and schools. We all have knowledge and understanding of, and experience in the Australian education context and culture,

What is your opinion?

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TED: Susan Cain: ‘The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in between (ambivert), Susan’ Cain’s TED talk is important viewing, and should be shared widely.


As well, Susan recently wrote a very interesting opinion piece in TIME Ideas – ‘Why gadgets are great for introverts’.

In all planning for learning and teaching in our classrooms we must consciously consider the introvert as well as the extrovert and ambivert students!

After viewing the TED video or reading Susan’s article you might like to use one of these Thinking prompts to help in your reflections:


  1. Make a claim about the topic
  2. Identify support for your claim
  3. Ask a question related to your claim



  1. What feelings do you have after experiencing this?
  2. How were you made to feel this way?
  3. What would you like to do with these feelings? 

If Susan’s TED talk, her article and your reflections have whetted your appetite for exploring further I recommend that you read Susan’s book ‘Quiet – The Power of Introverts’. There is an eBook version too. Here!

A tweet today also lead me to Royan Lee’s blog, where he posts about his analysis of data he collected about his students, their personality types, and the effect of their use of social media and digital devices on their learning. Royan’s  ‘…mom ‘n pop research…’ (Action research) is linked here: Social Media and Introverts: by Royan Lee

Take Susan’s Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?

Related Articles:

Embracing Introversion: Ways to Stimulate Reserved Students in the Classroom 

Introversion and the Invisible Adolescent by Mark Phillips

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‘Lead Like Jesus’ – Ken Blanchard

A tweet today pointed me to this YouTube video (April 2012),

Lead Like Jesus‘ – presented by Dr Ken Blanchard.

While Dr Blanchard, the global and spiritual leader of the Ken Blanchard Company, speaks from the point of view of leading within business the points he makes are equally applicable to we Christians who lead in Christian or secular educational settings.

Ken speaks of how Jesus took 12 unlikely men and transformed them from novices into master leaders. He also speaks of his own journey as a follower of Jesus and how he puts the principles found in the life of Jesus of servant leadership, into practice in his life and business.

Where did Jesus learn about leadership?

Who was the first servant leader?

Why did the Father make Jesus a carpenter?

What principles from the Saviour’s life will always hold us in good stead in our role as leaders?

The Video is 1 hour 19 minutes long but if you have the time it is well worth viewing and reflecting on.

A related 55 min. video is the one linked here: ‘Developing your leadership point of view‘, where Ken outlines more of the principles of Jesus’ servant leadership. Also well worth the time to view and reflect on.

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‘The importance of leadership in high-performing schools’ – Curriculum Leadership Journal


The monthly edition of Education Services Australia’s electronic Curriculum Leadership Journal landed in my inbox today. The lead article is this thought provoking one: ‘The importance of leadership in high-performing schools’. The article was first published in  ISQ Briefings Volume 16 Number 6, July 2012.

We know from John Hattie‘s syntheses of meta-analyses related to student achievement, published in ‘Visible Learning’ 2008, that students bring to their learning 50% of that which has an impact on their achievement. Teacher have the next biggest impact on student achievement – 30% impact.

This article investigates some research about the impact of school leadership on student outcomes, suggesting that evidence indicates ‘…that school leadership has an impact on student outcomes second only to the influence of teachers in the classroom…’

As leaders in our schools, how do we stack up?

‘There is a growing body of evidence that school leadership has an impact on student outcomes second only to the influence of teachers in the classroom (Hattie, 2003; Leithwood et al, 2006; Tooley, 2009; Day et al, 2009; New Leaders for New Schools, 2009; Day et al, 2010; Barber et al, 2010).

A recent RAND Corporation report found that nearly 60% of a school’s impact on student achievement is attributable to leadership and teacher effectiveness, with principals accounting for 25% of a school’s total impact on achievement. Furthermore the report found that, while effective teachers have a profound effect on student outcomes, this effect soon fades when the student moves on to another teacher, unless the new teacher is equally effective (New Leaders for New Schools, 2009). In order for students to have high-quality learning every year, whole schools must be high functioning, and this means they must be led by effective principals (ibid)…’ Read on…


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How useful and effective is homework?

Mathematics homework

What is the value of homework? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently my two daughters whose children are at different ends of the education continuum (one has a boy in his first year of school, and the second a boy in Year 10 and a girl in Year 9), raised with me the issue of the relevance and value of their children’s homework.

Then within the space of two days the subject of effective and relevant homework was also brought up during a school leadership meeting.  

And we all know that this topic also pops up in the media from time to time.

I’ve had the following article bookmarked for a couple of years and while I wish to share it with those involved in the conversations mentioned above, I thought I would also repost it here for the benefit of readers who may also deal with the issue of the effectiveness and relevance of homework from time to time.

The article is

Five Hallmarks of Good Homework

Cathy Vatterott, in this article published online on ASCD’s Educational Leadership website, reinforces my views ad the answer I gave my daughters as I recommended that they approach my grandchildren’s teachers with their concerns.

Cathy writes

 ‘Homework shouldn’t be about rote learning. The best kind deepens student understanding and builds essential skills…’

Cathy Vatterott goes on to write:

‘…For tonight’s homework,

  • Write the 10 spelling words 3 times each.
  • Write definitions of the 15 science vocabulary words.
  • Do the math problems on page 27, problems 1–20 on dividing fractions.

 Check any homework hotline, and you’re likely to find similar homework assignments, which look an awful lot like those we remember from school. But do these tasks really reinforce learning? Do they focus on rote learning—or on deeper understandings?

The Fundamental Five

The best homework tasks exhibit five characteristics.

  • First, the task has a clear academic purpose, such as practice, checking for understanding, or applying knowledge or skills.
  • Second, the task efficiently demonstrates student learning.
  • Third, the task promotes owner ship by offering choices and being personally relevant.
  • Fourth, the task instills a sense of competence—the student can success fully complete it without help.
  • Last, the task is aesthetically pleasing—it appears enjoyable and interesting (Vatterott, 2009)…’ Read more…

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP ASCD Online August 2011 | Volume 68

Best of Educational Leadership 2010–2011 Pages 10-15

My advice to my daughters was to approach their children’s teachers to discuss the relevance and value of homework given, and my advice to teachers would be please make sure homework is related directly to what you are teaching right now as well as to the learning intentions that you have outlined to your students.

For reflection:

  • Do you believe homework is necessary and valuable to student learning and achievement?
  • What homework do you give?
  • What do you do to make sure the homework set supports your present teaching and learning goals for your students?

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Circle – Phil’s Provocations: Creative Spaces in Schools – Nov. 2011

Circle - Phil's Provocations

By Dr Philip SA Cummins

In light of a conversation with several colleagues recently about engaging students in integrated learning this article is indeed thought provoking. Is the issue of engagement and motivation about our students as learners, or about we as learning facilitators? Or some of both?

‘Creativity is not something that just happens in art and music rooms; students want to be challenged to think creatively, show enterprise and innovate in all aspects of their learning. Our solutions, themselves, need to be grounded in a clear understanding of the conditions under which creativity flourishes. And we need to enable the adults involved in the process as much latitude and support as we give to the children with whom they are working…’

Dr Cummins goes on to write under the headings:

Students’ beliefs about creativity in school, Teachers’ beliefs about creativity in school, Leading and cultivating a creative staff, Defining a creative curriculum, A school culture that nurtures difference, The fear response to creativity amongst teachers, Thus, what is the creative space in our schools?

Read more…