Experiential Education in Action – Why is it so important?
This week I had the pleasure of visiting the Year 9s on their Southern Tasmania Experience in various settings: walking on Kunanyi with scientists from UTAS, viewing the exhibits in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, exploring the habitats in Hobart’s Royal Botanical Gardens and visiting the signal station on Mount Nelson were just some of the experiences on the itinerary. Then on Monday, I spent time observing a group of our senior students taking part in the annual UN Youth Conference in a virtual setting.
Scotch Oakburn students are fortunate enough to be afforded many such opportunities on a regular basis as they journey through their Senior School years. These learning experiences are sometimes viewed as extras, as events which are not core to the learning that takes place at school. However, it is these experiential learning events that do provide our students with significant growth and development opportunities. They are often far more significant than the more traditional learning that takes place in the classroom, the so called “core business of schooling”. It is during these learning experiences that our students really are able to develop the all-important learner attributes.
Experiential learning exposes young people to the authentic ever-changing world in which students must be able to be creative and analytical thinkers. They must not just cope, but rather thrive in the many new environments they will find themselves in. As globalisation brings economic and cultural disruption, young people must become more agile and entrepreneurial. It is up to schools to ensure that their learning programs produce courageous graduates.
Linda Lewis and Carol Williams (1994) described experiential education as immersing learners in an experience and then encouraging reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.
Experiential Education often incorporates the following components:
Equal parts previous skill, theory and investigation – students rely to some extent on previous skills and theoretical knowledge in order to investigate a situation with an open mind. This scaffolding is critical to ensure students have the right ‘tools’ to navigate an experiential learning activity.
A safe environment – safe spaces must be created for students to go on a journey of self-discovery. Students need the freedom to explore without the fear of things going wrong. Time to reflect – experiential learning activities do not always go smoothly, reflection is a vital part of the learning process so that students have the opportunity to think about what worked and what didn’t.
Meaningful and relevant activities – students are the learners but also their own teachers in experiential learning. Activities therefore need to have meaning and be relevant so that motivation results. Students should be fully immersed in the experience; emotional investment in the activity is key to this happening.
Big picture perspective – experiential learning activities should have a big picture perspective so that real world connections can be made. Students begin to understand the complex relationships between the different learning components at school and across the different aspects of life outside of school.
Championing experiential learning is another way that Scotch Oakburn College continuously adapts to the way that our students learn and provides what they need to be successful in their future. Experiential education, in or out of the classroom, prepares our students to be creative problem solvers and helps them to better internalise new knowledge and skills through real world experience, while developing their character through the Learner Attributes.
Between 12 and 15 March, a group of eight Scotch Oakburn College students participated in the annual UN Youth State Conference, this time being held entirely over Zoom. The days were filled largely with skilful debating of various different Motions presented to the UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) and the UN General Assembly (UNGA). All the motions related to the Conference’s overarching theme of ‘Health’.
Given the year gone by, it was a timely theme that evoked strong and passionate debate! Notable debates included how to improve youth mental health in this time of crisis, whether the entire world should adopt a form of universal healthcare, how to ensure the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the drafting of an agreement outlining what aspects of physical and mental health should be aimed to be improved.
We also participated in many workshops at the start of each session, expressing our opinions about health issues and meeting with new people from across the state. The highlight of the conference was the Interactive Problem-Solving Activity when we were delegated roles in the United States Government, the World Health Organisation, and Doctors Without Borders, to deal with the public health and political responses to a growing outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in Montana.
All these experiences highlighted how important global co-operation, strong healthcare systems and responsible conflict management are to ensuring global peace and security. It was an incredibly worthwhile experience as our passions for Debating, Public Speaking and International Affairs were nurtured in a fun and supportive environment. It was a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Dean Power Year 12 Student
Two winners at Lions Club finals
This week, both Will Scott and Dean Power impressively won their Lions Youth of the Year Club finals! Will and Dean’s written applications, interviews, prepared speeches and impromptu questions wowed the judges with their energy and capacity to work hard and achieve success in a wide range of fields including public speaking. We wish the boys the very best for the upcoming regional finals.
Katie Lester Person-in-Charge of Public Speaking
Rain stops State Final Cricket bid
Scotch Oakburn Firsts Cricket team were thwarted on the weekend from making the State Final due to rain. Needing only 130 runs to defeat ladder leaders Guilford Young College and progress to the final, rain stopped play for 3 hours on Saturday at Scotch Oakburn Park. The team showed a lot of character to get themselves into a position to play in the final. Many of our Firsts team have been playing cricket for 6 years in the program and to finish due to rain was disappointing. The team, under coach Clinton Reid, can however be very proud of their achievements over many years and no doubt will remember their time playing and travelling to locations, intrastate, interstate and international. The team played in great spirit and always gave a 100% of themselves which will put them in a good space going forward being in cricket and life once they leave us.
Our Seconds team however will play in the final against Hutchins this Friday at Scotch Oakburn Park under the guidance of coach Richard Edwards. We wish the team all the best.
Rob Jeffery Director of Cricket
We had three teams play in Semi-Finals on Wednesday 17 March all vying to qualify for their respective Grand Finals.
Our Senior Firsts Boys, coached by Rick Wyllie were successful. This will be the boys fifth consecutive Grand Final placing since 2016 (appointed premiers last year without a final due to COVID). In a tough game against Launceston Church Grammar School (LCGS) they were able to secure an 11 point lead in the third quarter, and after a very close last quarter, won the game 45-41.
Our Senior Seconds Boys – Gold team, coached by Dylan Warren, also had a very physical game against LCGS. Throughout the game, the scores were never more than 2 – 4 points difference with the lead changing hands constantly. Unfortunately, the last minute of the game saw LCGS take the lead and we were defeated 34 – 31.
Our Senior Firsts Girls team, coached by Malcolm Gardner, played their Semi-Final against St Brendan Shaw College (SBSC) at home. The girls went into the match having defeated SBSC previously, however SBSC were certainly keen to ensure that they gave themselves every chance to make the grand final and ensured their key players that were missing in their previous game made the trip up this time. SBSC dominated from the outset of the game both in offence and defence and despite our girls giving everything, SBSC were just too strong and we were defeated 81 – 39.
Scotch Oakburn College now have two teams representing the school in the Grand Finals and we wish them all the very best. The following teams will both be playing next Wednesday,24 March. The Girls Senior Second Bluey at 4.15pm at Scotch Oakburn and the Senior Firsst Boys at 4.00pm at St Patrick’s College.
Both teams would welcome as much support as possible at their games. I wish them every success.
Natalie Good Director of Basketball
Maya Martin (Year 9) competed in the National Mountain Bike Championships in Maydena last weekend. Maya had great success, with a Silver and Bronze in the Under 17 age group.
Ali Foot Head of Sport
There were many competitors from the College at the recent Tasmanian State Long Course Swimming Championships. From the Senior School, we were advised of some great achievements from Xavier Nesbit (Year 9), Ella Fischer (Year 9), Jasmine Irani (Year 10), Emily Mitchell (Year 10), Charlotte Pilsbury-Milne (Year 10), Wylie Howell (Year 11) and Amy Muldoon (Year 11). Their medal results are available here –Senior School Achievements -State Long Course Swimming Championships. Xavier and Emily have also qualified for the 2021 Age National Championships. Congratulations to all swimmers.