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News

A series of posts from the Barker Institute sharing updates on the Institute as a research centre, publication house and learning hub.

  • On Tuesday 4th June, around 300 people from the Barker community gathered in the senior school commons to solve maths challenges and puzzles, over dinner. This celebration of mathematics event highlighted the research into confidence in mathematics at Barker that started in 2022. There was a great buzz, with the space packed to capacity!

    A wide age range of students was in attendance from the Junior School and Secondary School. Some of our most enthusiastic participants were aged 4 or 5; solving tangram after tangram! Activities were supplied by "Inquisitive Minds", and Barker staff provided the muscle - marking problems and serving meals.

    maths event parnet and child

    At 6:45, everyone moved to Leslie Hall and Freddo Frogs were awarded to those who had solved maths puzzles with dinner, i.e. everyone.

    The audience tried out some "Mathemagic" led by Graham Hanlon (Head of Mathematics), in his maths wizard's robe. Parents and students then heard from Maths teacher Amy Young about what she has learned through her research around Girls in Mathematics. They were taken on a deep dive into confidence and how it is linked to performance in maths. The focus was to give advice on how to build confidence in yourself, in your child, in your peers, or in your students. Edwin Tomlins, Junior School Mathematics Specialist Teacher, and Graham Hanlon then shared more about how we are doing this at Barker.

    maths event amy young 2024

    The maths faculty looks forward to similar events in the future.

    maths event graham hanlon 2024

    Confidence is Key! A Celebration of Mathematics at Barker

    Celebrating maths with mini challenges and puzzles over dinner!

    • 14 June 2024
  • URSTRONG

    Attached is an article published in The Barker T4 2023. This will provide a summary of the information for 2024.

    Over recent years, the Junior School has developed a partnership with URSTRONG. The common language of friendships and the wealth of teaching and learning resources, provide Junior School teachers with a scope and sequences of target material to support the children as they build connections, explore skills and engage in learning to prepare them to make and maintain healthy relationships.

    UR Strong Article -The Barker #141

    Martin Conway

    With experience in primary education over 25 years in the independent school sector, Martin has a deep passion for student care, working with students, educators, and families to support school and learning culture. Since 2017, Martin has served as the Director of Students in the Junior School sharing his commitment to cultivating a school where safety is number one, kindness is number two, mining the richness that is shared in our common values and a values education to inform teaching and learning motivated by love and service. For Martin, serving in education is a calling, a privilege, and a gift to share with all.

    Learning for Friendship

    Learning about the common language of friendship - a commitment to creating a culture of kindness.

    • Martin Conway
    • 27 May 2024
  • This week in the Junior School, we commenced a pilot program with interested staff.

    The Confident Parent Course was developed by Dr Jenny Brown based on a family systems approach, where focusing on managing yourself can affect change in the family and support your child’s mental health and wellbeing.

    The course invites you to consider the positive outcomes for children when the parent is the project.

    • In shifting the focus back to yourself without blame, through reflection and parenting by principles, this creates developmental space for children, which can improve their mental health and wellbeing.
    • This course is based upon family systems approach, where when one part of the family system shifts, this can impact the whole environment.
    • This course will not give you tactics or tips for how to parent, rather some great principles you can use to reflect on your parenting, including what’s in your control, where is your energy directed, and redirecting your worry.
    • There are no quick fixes here. The last part of this series is about playing the long-term game in your parenting.
    • Often when we start adjusting ourselves, changing our reactions, setting our parenting “I” position, children can push back against this.
    • Sticking it out will help play the long game of building resilience in your children, building your confidence in your role as a parent, and contribute to a calmer, less worried family life.

    The course is relevant for all age groups, and will run over 4 weeks:

    1. Where is my energy directed?
    2. Is worry driving my connection?
    3. How do I hold clear limits?
    4. Am I thinking big picture?

    We are so blessed by our parent community at Barker. We are hopeful that this course will be part of a toolkit of resources available to you as you seek to grow your wonderful young men and women. Keep an eye out for the Barker Institute events in Term 3.

    How to talk to your kids about Gendered Violence

    Your children and young people may be seeing news headlines about the shocking numbers of men harming women and they may have questions or want to talk about violence against women and children.

    You may be wondering how you can help your child develop the attitudes and skills they need to have healthy and respectful relationships throughout their lives.

    There are many things parents and carers can do to help the children and young people in their lives develop healthy ideas about gender and relationships. Please read a great article and 7 ways to model it here.

    Lisa Chalmers

    Lisa Chalmers is the Director of Health & Wellbeing at Barker College. Lisa holds a Master of Public Health and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Nursing). Lisa has previously worked at the United World College of SEA in Singapore as Matron/Assistant House Parent (Boarding) and has fulfilled both nursing and public health roles in Dublin, Fiji and Melbourne. Lisa has lived in Sydney since 2008 working at NCIRS in vaccine research, UNSW (Lowy) in brain tumour research and co-ordinating a rare disease project across Australia. Lisa has been working at Barker since 2017 and loves her diverse role in caring for both the acute health care needs of our students but also educating and empowering them to carry lifelong good health care and wellbeing behaviours into their lives beyond the Mint Gates.

    Parent Hope Project – the Confident Parent Course begins….!

    Supporting parents to be the best resource for their children

    • Lisa Chalmers
    • 24 May 2024
  • The Marayarr students have established a YouTube channel to share their classroom learning.

    This first video gives the audience an introduction to the favourite things the Marayyar students like to do, such as basketball, football and maths. Life in the community is displayed with the students showing their cooking skills - perhaps cooking those fish that they netted in the turquoise waters of East Arnhem Land. (also in the video).

    Connection is everything. The students introduce themselves, with their Yolŋu and English names and explain how their connections to each other are so important, including their link to their totem animals.

    Follow the channel to stay updated with insights from these students on their learning journey.

    News from Dhupuma Barker

    Recent news, 2024, from the School on County in North East Arnhem land. Launch of a student YouTube channel.

    • 24 May 2024
  • The session focused on the use of Copilot. Copilot is the preferred AI at Barker in 2024 tool due to the ability to protect personal and company data when using a large language model. Different ways to use and prompt Copilot were discussed, with a focus on encouraging staff to try it themselves. Live demonstrations were also run including looking at school-specific Bing search, re-writing content for different reading levels to allow greater differentiation, creating questions to gage student comprehension or spark debate in the classroom, updating statistics from older texts, and reformatting documents for editing - all completed using Copilot.

    The second aspect of the session was looking at the use of AI within Microsoft Stream and Teams. The screen capture tool in Stream was demonstrated, highlighting the ability to include annotations, read from a transcript during the recording, create written summaries of the content, and embed a Microsoft Form into specific parts of the video. Also investigated was the use of Learning Accelerators and the reading coach in the Assignments Module in Microsoft Teams. This included how AI could be used within Teams assignments to automatically generate comprehension questions and create marking rubrics. More information about Microsoft Stream and Teams can be found in the links below.

    Introducing Copilot in Microsoft Stream - Microsoft Community Hub

    Learning Accelerators: Tools for Students | Microsoft Education

    Overall, the session was designed to encourage staff to try different aspects of AI and find ways that it could work for them to improve their workflow. There was a combination of options for beginners to interact with AI for the first time, through to more complex and specific scenarios for its use. There has been a lot of positive feedback from the session, and we are excited to hear about how teachers start to use these tools to improve their teaching and learning outcomes, and increase their efficiency for administrative tasks.

    Gabi Corderoy

    Gabi Corderoy is part of the Digital Learning Team and a PDHPE teacher. She is the current sports coordinator for both cricket and fencing, and prior to her digital learning role, she was the assistant coordinator of PDHPE. Having worked in various roles within the School, she has developed a keen interest in enhancing teachers’ capabilities and efficiency in managing administrative tasks and preparing content. Gabi is committed to providing students with a positive and consistent learning experience throughout their schooling, which motivates her to promote the seamless integration of technologies across the school.

    AI in education - professional learning collaboration

    In the ever-evolving landscape of education, teachers are continually seeking innovative ways to enhance their teaching methodologies, meet regulatory requirements, and improve efficiency.

    • Gabi Corderoy
    • 15 May 2024
  • The session’s talking points included:

    1. Understanding habit development
    2. Location, location, location
    3. Scheduling for success
    4. The why and how of using a diary
    5. Types of study
    6. Maximising memory
    7. Momentum: Show up and start

    Resources for Barker families are included as links below.

    1. Selected Slides from the presentation
    2. Participant workbook (2024)
    3. Barker College Year 7 Formal Assessment Manual
    4. Soft Copy Homework Planner (for download)
    5. Barker Institute Journal Article – Understanding our Successful Learners
    6. Barker Institute Journal Article –2017 HSC Results: How to pass on their success to their successors
    7. Information and links regarding FamilyZone at Barker which allows parents to support their children’s device use through boundaries and automated restrictions.
    8. Link to the homepage of The Study Skills Handbook that students have access too. Discuss access with your child or contact the school for login details.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Event: Year 7 Study Habits 2024

    Notes from an interactive workshop to help Year 7 students and their parents develop good study habits

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 30 April 2024

  • From the Director, Barker Institute


    A Year in Review: The Barker Institute in 2023

    Dr Matthew Hill


    The Barker Journey: Reporting on the fifth year of our decade long longitudinal study


    The Barker Journey – Year 7, 2023 Nurturing Learning Relationships

    Dr Timothy Scott and Dr Matthew Hill


    Research and Reflections on Practice


    Characteristics of Effective Character Education

    Peter Gibson


    Confidence and support for all Mathematics students in a co-educational context

    Amy Young


    Three comments on a whole school approach to refugee education

    Dr Timothy Scott


    Buildings Before Blueprints: A metaphorical exploration of digital ecosystems in modern education

    Dr Andrew Mifsud


    Balancing Innovation and Responsibility: Challenges in developing a framework for ethical AI integration in education

    Gabi Corderoy and Stephen Liseo


    Nurturing Cultural Responsiveness: A snapshot of professional learning initiatives improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students

    Lucy Pitkin and Dr Timothy Scott


    Mirroring the White Fragility of the Reader in ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’

    Marcus Felsman


    The Impact of School Sports Programs on Student Wellbeing

    Adam Watson


    We need to talk: Why Agriculture needs to say more about the global issues it can help alleviate

    Scott Graham


    The embodied pedagogy: Preliminary personal reflection of incorporating the Alexander Technique in string teaching

    Sheau-Fang Low


    The Power of Paws: Dog-Assisted Wellbeing Interventions on Student Motivation and Engagement in the School Setting

    Yvonne Howard


    Research and Reflections on Practice: Gifted and Talented


    An overview of Giftedness: transforming potential through responsive teaching

    Susanna Matters


    Who, what, why, how? Four questions all teachers should ask about gifted education

    Amanda Eastman


    Students are unlikely to advocate for themselves: Reshaping Stage 4 for English to differentiate for gifted students

    Greg Longney and Charlotte Wells


    Research and Reflections on Practice: Supplementary Volume

    Towards a pedagogy for radical hope: Developing a whole school approach to refugee education

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Table of Contents - Learning in Practice - Volume 7 Number 1 (2023)

    This week we are proud to launch the 2023 edition of the Barker Institute Journal, Learning in Practice. The full journal and individual articles are now available online on the Barker Institute website .

    • Dr Timothy Scott, Dr Matthew Hill
    • 23 February 2024
  • Many of the ongoing whole school projects which the Barker Institute has continued to support in 2023 through its active, school-based educational research find a voice in this year’s journal. The seventh volume is more than just a home to considered reflections on pedagogy or a forum through which dialogue for the benefit of professional learning and development takes place. This year’s edition of Learning in Practice has welcomed staff contributions that have had an impact on educational thinking and practice both here in Australia and abroad. Scott’s paper outlining key considerations in refugee education is a much-abridged version of a larger work published by the Barker Institute earlier this year, which deliberately coincided with the same time as the School moved into a new field of Humanitarian Education. Gibson’s work on Character Education comes from Barker developing an intentional focus in this area and at a time where Barker has actively embraced being a Round Square school. Articles for this year’s Learning in Practice were received from across the School. Some, such as Young, Pitkin and Scott, Mifsud, Corderoy and Liseo, and Low reflected on key aspects of the learning and teaching that takes place at Barker and linked their reflections to academic literature more broadly. Others, such as Felsman, Watson, Graham, and Howard drew inspiration from further studies they are undertaking. Matters, Eastman, Longney and Wells presented research and reflections on practice in Gifted and Talented education. Such breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise is enriching.

    We were excited for the Barker Journey students as they started secondary school. It was a privilege to listen to these young men and women as they shared what it is like to go to school as a Year 7 student. Their narratives of what learning, teaching, and schooling in the 21st century is like, mixed in with experiencing social and academic changes in the world around them, revealed a desire for nurturing learning relationships. They showed us how they are changing into more independent learners while maintaining a community-oriented approach to learning. They revealed a willingness to embrace productive challenges, and that their perception of learning as a relational endeavour persists driven by their belief that it will aid in adapting to change, confronting challenges, and preparing for future learning.

    The Barker Institute is delighted to serve the School, and the wider community, through the educational research we conduct ourselves and facilitate in others. There is much to celebrate in this year’s journal and we hope that you will find it both useful and informative. We invite all to be in touch with us about the educational research taking place at Barker.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Journal Launch - Learning in Practice: The Barker Institute Journal (2023)

    This week we are proud to launch the 2023 edition of the Barker Institute Journal, Learning in Practice. The full journal and individual articles are now available online on the Barker Institute website .

    • Dr Timothy Scott, Dr Matthew Hill
    • 23 February 2024
  • Barker’s refugee education project is an example of this. During an event last year, guest presenter Patricia Garcia AO posed a crucial question: What role can education, particularly institutions like Barker, play on the global humanitarian stage? Barker’s answer to this question has been to establish a “school within a school” for refugees which has been called Marri Mittigar (Dharug for “Many Friends”). The idea of “what can Barker do?” will continue at another event open to the wider community later this term, featuring Noor Azizah speaking on the plight of Rohingya refugees in Aceh, Indonesia. This blog post marks the beginning of a series that follows the journey of fostering and supporting refugee education in schools.

    Barker’s approach of establishing a “school within a school”, where both setting and specialised support so crucial to meeting the unique educational needs of refugee students (such as: linguistic, social, cognitive, emotional, behavioural) are actively acknowledged, has been supported by the Barker Institute since the project began. Towards a Pedagogy for Radical Hope (available online), published in late 2023, continues to be significant example of this support. Originating as a literature review, Radical Hope’s author identified a scarcity of literature about how a whole school approach to refugee education in schools might look and then took the opportunity to explore this gap further. A tripartite model emerged: trauma-informed education, cross-cultural transition, and culturally responsive teaching.

    Whole school approach to refugee education, from Scott (2023)

    Towards a Pedagogy for Radical Hope is set to go through a bit of a revision process over the course of this year (and probably next!) as the author seeks to develop the ideas within in it. This will continue to be in conjunction with several different parties – academics, refugee education-related organisations. Seeking to avoid a one-size-fits-all mindset, Radical Hope looks to support those working in the field. It has already contributed to the development of a professional learning course for the refugee education project team, covering a range of topics essential for teachers working with children and young people from refugee backgrounds.

    The professional learning that continues to emerge from the Barker Institute’s work in refugee education is shaped by important considerations highlighted by the research literature as well as what has been said by the teachers for whom the professional learning has been developed. The very first session used Bajaj et.al. (2023) Humanizing Education for Immigrant and Refugee Youth: 20 Strategies for the classroom and beyond as the basis for discussion – a 20 minute presentation focusing on the diverse backgrounds of children and young people with refugee backgrounds followed by a 40 minute discussion. It was a good starting point for the professional learning program, agreed to through listening to teacher voice from very early on; research is an important driver in determining the topics of each professional learning session, and how it might be delivered, but it is not the only one.

    The early days of the program has underscored the importance of being intentionally agile, actively listening to what the teaching team wants to cover, and understanding what will be found most meaningful – all of which we will want to continue! Refugee education means increasing the cultural and linguistic diversity in one’s classroom, in addition to working in an environment where trauma will undoubtedly have an impact. The Barker Institute's exploratory research, such as Radical Hope, equipped participants with the language to articulate study objectives and preferred research topics. On a more operational level, recognising the challenges of fitting sessions into an already busy school environment meant scheduling sessions for Monday at 6pm, online, every fortnight. Such timing has allowed participants to attend comfortably after school hours, avoiding clashes with normal school day routines. Moreover, it accommodates other guest facilitators or presenters from here in Australia or further abroad. These sorts of discussions with teaching staff led to a clear ‘training agenda’. An Introduction to Refugee Education course emerged!

    There is much to unpack when considering how school-based educational research might foster and support the development of a refugee ‘school within a school’. For now, three considerations:

    1. School-based educational research has a role to play in shaping school strategic planning initiatives.
    2. It provides an interface between research literature and professional learning that can help bring school strategic planning initiatives to life.
    3. It is most effective in this when it works alongside other drivers that develop professional learning opportunities; listening to teacher voice on an ongoing basis is one of them.

    References

    Bajaj, M., Walsh, D., Bartlett, L., Martínez, G. (2023) Humanizing Education for Immigrant and Refugee Youth: 20 Strategies for the classroom and beyond. Teacher College Press.

    Scott, T., (2023) Towards a Pedagogy for Radical Hope: Developing a whole school approach to refugee education. Barker Institute: Sydney.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    Fostering and supporting refugee education – the first part of the story.

    Engaging in school-based educational research is not merely about observing positive impacts on teaching and learning; it's about actively contributing to transformative changes.

    • Dr Timothy Scott
    • 22 February 2024
  • Why does character matter? It matters because who we are shapes how we live, and how we live leaves a wake. It has been said that, “character is manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” Our character will determine whether we are humble or boastful in victory, whether we are gracious or petulant in defeat. It will determine how we handle sickness or stress or the responsibility that comes with a job.

    But it is shaped in the small choices we make in the everyday moments of life. Do we notice a piece of rubbish on the ground and pick it up, or do we take the attitude that that is the responsibility of someone less worthy than ourselves? Do we allow our parents to do the washing up, pretending not to hear their calls for help? Do we notice a younger student sitting alone in the playground and go over to sit with them?

    It is in these moments that our character is formed, and it is in these moments, oftentimes when no one is watching, that we can send out tiny ripples of hope which, over the course of a lifetime, can bend the trajectory of our lives – and the lives of those around us – towards justice, goodness and love. That is why I think our character matters.

    Mark Lovell

    Mark Lovell is part of the Character and Enterprise education team at Barker College and qualified English teacher. He is also currently a Ramsay Scholar at St John's College, Annapolis who loves to think about education, faith and the human condition.

    Character and Its Importance

    Someone who has helped me think about character is the journalist David Brooks. Brooks says there are two kinds of virtues by which we tend to define ourselves.

    • Mark Lovell
    • 15 February 2024
  • It was such a timely message. Conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza have seen international human rights come under pressure. News reports of people being forcibly displaced from their homes are, sadly, daily occurrences. And yet, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a document that has the inherent dignity of human life at its core. I asked Bianca, one of Barker’s Social Justice Captains who hosted the event, what was one of the key takeaways from the evening for her. She replied:

    …it is everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves and others about human rights. Sometimes we feel upholding the UDHR may only fall to politicians and corporations but, in reality, we may all play a role in this.
    Bianca, Social Justice Captain

    The power of education in enabling human rights. It was a recurring theme of the evening – and a powerful one. This was one of the things that struck Lachlan, the other Social Justice Captain who hosted the evening. For him, the positive change education can make in the world is an exciting calling, and one in which he wants to continue his involvement. The UDHR is the most translated document in the world today – it has been translated into over 500 different languages – and its 75th anniversary will be celebrated on Sunday 10 December, the date in 1948 it was signed by the UN General Assembly.

    Garcia’s words also set up for Barker’s Director of Humanitarian Programs, Julia West, to speak about refugee education. West’s presentation started with a moving, “inspired-by-real events” scenario which had everyone imagining what it would be like if they had to flee a country due to persecution. It was a scenario that was closer to home than the audience realised until she revealed that it was drawn from the story of one of the refugees that call Barker their school.

    What followed from West was Barker’s response to Garcia’s call for action: establishing a school within a school that contributes to realising Phillip Heath’s vision of a Barker that has global engagement driven by justice and hope. It will be called Marri Mittigar, or “Many Friends” in the Dharug language. For Bianca, Marri Mittigar reminded her “about the importance of our local community in affecting change, even if it is just small, grassroots initiates, all efforts to become involved and help out are important”. Bianca’s comment also reflects that Barker’s Humanitarian Program has grown over a period of time. Marri Mittigar, while a significant development in the school’s humanitarian work, is only one part of a greater whole. The model of the school is inspired by Barker’s already well-established three Indigenous Education campuses. The school has already taken on a couple of refugee students, one in primary school and one having just completed secondary school. There is also an after-school homework club, now supporting 20 students from a variety of refugee backgrounds.

    The evening came to an end with a Q&A Panel. I was fortunate enough to sit on this panel alongside Garcia, West and Phillip Heath. There was only time for a couple of questions to the panelists, but the answers were deep and further challenging. It brought the event to a close, leaving the night with, as Lachlan remarked “a lovely buzz of passion and connectivity going through the room, with lots of people staying behind at the end, wanting to learn more and asking how they can help”.

    As part of the evening, the Barker Institute had the opportunity to launch an important Supplementary Volume of the 2023 Barker Institute Journal, Learning in Practice. The monograph Towards a pedagogy of radical hope: Developing a whole school approach to refugee education has been used by the team leading Barker's humanitarian projects, and is now available to individuals, researchers, and schools seeking a literature-informed framework around educating refugee students. Details of this work, and other Barker Institute publications are available at barker.institute/publications.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    International Human Rights Under Pressure - What can Barker do?

    Patricia Garcia AO, international human rights advocate and Partnership Development Manager at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), opened the final Barker Institute event for 2023.

    • Dr Timothy Scott, with Bianca and Lachlan (Social Justice Captains)
    • 10 November 2023
  • This blog is the third in a series.

    Click here to read the first blog "Defining Character".

    Click here to read the second blog "Character Education".

    Character education is more than the provision of an a well-intentioned, resourced, researched opportunities and programs targeting values, it involves a journey of becoming, where students learn to make wise moral decisions, think critically, live in harmony with others and be successful in challenges of life. It is a long-term, intentional focus on the development of students allows them to flourish in their lives and contribute to the common good. Hence this approach spans the entire school environment influencing school culture, processes and language. It is the “planned, comprehensive and systematic approach of all educational activities that develops positive personal virtues (moral, civic, performance, intellectual). It aims to intentionally, explicitly and implicitly develop students with the capacity and capability to flourish in their life and make a worthwhile contribution to a changing world” (After: [MH1] Edmonson et al., 2009; The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue, 2020).

    Vital Consideration for the delivery of Character Education

    Character education has an intentional & explicit focus on character and virtue. It involves specific planning of curriculum focusing on the development of knowledge and understanding of the meaning and importance of specific virtues. A shared language of virtues that permeates through all aspects of school life is essential (Arthur, Fullard & O’Leary, 2022; The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022).

    Character education is only effective when delivered in the context of a school community living out its mission and vision. A school should investigate what character means to them, and how it connects with the foundational aspects of the school and its community. It should be influenced by the needs of the students and the forecasted needs of the future. This must be modelled by school leaders and teachers. They must have a clear picture of human potential, recognise good learning, identify the deep process of growing and maturing and provide students with the opportunities to become complete human beings (see: The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022; Ryan & Lickona, 1992 ; Berkowitz & Bier, 2005; Berkowitz, 2011; Arthur, Fullard & O’Leary, 2022; Benninga, Berkowitz, Kuehn, & Smith, 2003; Lamb at al., 2021; Pietsch, 2018).

    Character education must involve meaningful holistic opportunities for growth (Lamb at al., 2021). Such activities allow for the explorations of interests and passions as well as develop citizenship, friendship and growth as team players. There should be time for student reflection to fully benefit from the experience and clear connections and ‘through lines’ with the academic curriculum (Hilby, 2000; The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues, 2022).

    Character education is most effective when families and wider community are connected and involved. This is among the greatest influences on a student’s character development (Berkowitz & Bier, 2005). Furthermore, student involvement within the wider community and service-learning programs provides opportunities to discover intrinsic motivation to develop moral values (Lickona, Schaps & Lewis, 2003).

    Pedagogical Strategies for Character Education

    Research points to the following pedagogical strategies as being effective in character education through academic, pastoral and co-curricular programs.

    1. Peer interactive strategies where students learn in small groups (Arthur, Fullard & O’Leary, 2022; Berkowitz & Bier, 2005; Berkowitz, 2011; Lamb at al., 2021)
    2. Teaching social and emotional competence (Berkowitz & Bier, 2005; Berkowitz, 2011; Lamb at al., 2021)
    3. Student empowerment developing personal capacity and involving students in program design and output (Berkowitz, 2011; Berkowitz & Bier, 2005; The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022).
    4. Teaching about character that is intentional, explicit and comprehensive is of throughout core curriculum, and seizing on the teachable moments within curriculum delivery (Berkowitz, 2011; Berkowitz & Bier, 2005; The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022; Lamb at al., 2021).
    5. Growth mindset and strength-based approach to learning where positive and trusting relationships are cultivated with nurturing relationships between staff and students (UK Department of Education, 2017; Berkowitz, 2011).
    6. High expectations and rigour in learning. Appropriate challenge, risk-taking opportunities and hard, meaningful work (Arthur, Fullard & O’Leary, 2022; Berkowitz, 2011; The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022; Lamb at al., 2021).
    7. Student reflection on personal experience of why and how one acted in a various particular circumstances (Lamb at al., 2021; The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022).

    Key Readings

    There are four key articles that outline how character education can be most effective. Detailed learning can be undertaken by reading these articles.

    1. The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (2022). The Jubilee Centre Framework for Character Education in Schools. The University of Birmingham, Birmingham.
    2. What works in values education (2011). International Journal of Educational Research Berkowitz, M.W
    3. What works in Character Education: A research-driven guide for educators (2005). Character Education Partnership. Berkowitz, M. W., & Bier, M.C.
    4. How is Virtue Cultivated? Seven Strategies for Postgraduate Character Development (2021). Journal of Character Education. Lamb, M., Brant, J., & Brook, E.

    An extended essay on this topic can be downloaded here.

    Reference List

    Arthur, J., Fullard, M., and O’Leary, C. (2022) Teaching Character Education: What Works Research Report, Birmingham: University of Birmingham, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.

    Benninga, J.S., Berkowitz, M.W., Kuehn, P. & Smith, K. (2003). The relationship of character education implementation and academic achievement in elementary schools. Journal of Research in Character Education, 1 (1), 19-32.

    Berkowitz, M, W. (2011). What works in values education. International Journal of Educational Research, (50), 153-158

    Berkowitz, M. W.,& Bier, M.C. (2005) What works in Character Education: A research-driven guide for educators. Washington, DC: Character Education Partnership

    Edmonson, S. Tatman, S. R., Slate, J. R. (2009) Character Education: A Critical Analysis. Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, Volume 4, Number 1

    Hilby, S. (2000). Kurt Hahn and the Aims of Education. Thomas James Illustration Copyright

    Lamb, M., Brant, J., & Brook, E. (2021) How is Virtue Cultivated? Seven Strategies for Postgraduate Character Development. Journal of Character Education 17, (1), 2-50

    Lickona, T., Schaps, E., & Lewis, C. (2003). CEP’s eleven principles of effective character education. Washington, DC: Character Education Partnership.

    Pietsch, J. (2018). Character Reborn: A philosophy of Christian Education. Acorn Press, Sydney.

    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, (2022). The Jubilee Centre Framework for Character Education in Schools. The University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

    UK Department of Education (2017). Developing Character Skills in Schools, Department for Education, http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/developing-character-skills-in-schools

    .

    Peter Gibson

    Peter Gibson is the Dean of Character Education at Barker College. Previously, Head of Senior School (Deputy Principal) at Shellharbour Anglican College and Head of Boarding at Trinity Grammar School, he is a highly experienced educational leader. Peter has led school communities in the development of academic performance built on a Growth Mindset approach to learning. He has been successful in leading the development of the pastoral care programs and has extensive breadth of experience and expertise in co-curricular activities. In his current role, he is leading an exciting innovation in developing the concept of Character and Enterprise Education as well as the implementation of Round Square K-12.

    Effective Character Education

    Character education is more than the provision of an a well-intentioned, resourced, researched opportunities and programs targeting values, it involves a journey of becoming, where students learn to make wise moral decisions, think critically, live in harmony with others and be successful in challenges of life.

    • Peter Gibson
    • 18 August 2023
  • This blog is the second in a series.Click here to read the first blog "Defining Character".

    The founding purposes of modern schooling: training true life, holistic experiences

    Huffman (1993) notes that “early schools treated the transmission of knowledge as secondary to character development” (p.24). Edward Thring, the famous Headmaster of Uppingham School in the 1800s and a prominent influence on education in England, argued the purpose of education as formation of student character, involving both the training of their intellect and the development of a well-rounded person equipped to respond to the challenges of life. Similar sentiments are echoed by renowned 20th Century Australian headmaster, Rod West.

    Kurt Hahn, a German educator, believed that it was through the involvement in a breadth of different experiences at school that student character for formed and shaped (Hilby, 2000). Hahn’s philosophy saw the founding of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Outward Bound movement, Salem School in Germany, the famous Gordonstoun School in Scotland and, more recently, the Round Square network of schools across the world who share a common purpose of character development, student leadership and global awareness.

    Philosophical forces influencing character education through the 20th Century

    Post World War II schooling emphasized right and wrong for society and the value of hard work in building it. During the 1960’s, especially in the USA, character education was influenced by individual rights with the rise of personalism, pluralism and secularization. Belief in objective moral norms were eroded resulting in a move from direct teacher instruction to the development of moral reasoning skills and students being supported to clarify their own values.

    The 1970s saw the rise in moral relativism. Teachers were expected to take a neutral and passive approach to teaching what was morally right and wrong. However, the 1980s saw the return to direct instruction. This was supported by coherent school policies and an emphasis on citizenship.

    In the 1990s specific teaching of core ethical values featured prominently as it was considered necessary to reduce antisocial behaviour and societal violence that was on the rise. By the close of the 20th century teachers and schools were considered as being heavily responsible for the delivery of moral and character education (Edmonson et al., 2009).

    Key features of contemporary character education often include:

    1. An emphasis on the needs of the individual and the specific context and identity of a school. This relates to the expectations of parents, the personalization of learning, and the explicit or implicit purposes of a school community.

    2. Developing well-rounded citizens. There is emphasis on supporting social and emotional development so they can understand themselves, improve weakness and develop their purpose in life in order contribute to the world. This includes improving citizenship and employment prospects (UK Department of Education, 2017).

    3. Participation in service learning. This prominent strategy connects real life situations with academic learning and civic responsibility to develop moral and ethical values through observation and practice.

    4. Co-development of “character” and “wellbeing”. Both character education and wellbeing programs work on positive character traits (even virtues) playing crucial roles in growing well-rounded, resilient individuals with the capacity to success and flourish (The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues, 2022). While character education emphasises the development of positive personal strengths in a deep way, wellbeing programs primarily are directed towards student health (mental, physical, social and emotional, spiritual) in the day-to-day rigors of life.

    5. Delivery and modelling from both schools and parents. Research shows that students achieve their best outcomes when parents are engaged in their schooling, and the development of character is no different (Berkowitz & Bear, 2005). Parent involvement in the school character education program should be encouraged and fostered.

    6. Preparation for an increasingly volatile and unknown world. Today, students need to be equipped for the future in a world that is experiencing an evolving global economy, worsening global problems (not least COVID-19), climate impact, galloping inequality, deepening mistrust and increasing stress for adults and young people. Character education must meet this situation by empowering and developing the personal virtues for students to flourish individually and be wise and compassionate contributors to society (Fullan, 2021; Fullan & Quinn, 2020).

    Conclusion: Defining Character Education

    Character education refers to a planned, comprehensive, and systematic approach to teach values such as self-respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, and citizenship.
    Edmonson et al, 2009, p. 3
    Character Education includes all explicit and implicit educational activities that help young people to develop positive personal strengths called virtues.
    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue, 2020, p.7

    From these definitions from literature, and the themes argued for in this article, the following definition is proposed.

    Character education is the planned, comprehensive and systematic approach of all educational activities that develops positive personal virtues (moral, civic, performance, intellectual). It aims to intentionally, explicitly and implicitly develop students with the capacity and capability to flourish in their life and make a worthwhile contribution to a changing world.

    An extended essay on this topic can be downloaded here.

    Reference List

    Berkowitz, M., & Bier, M. (2005). Character education: A study of effective character education programs shows that full parent involvement is a must. Educational Leadership, 63(1), 64-69.

    Edmonson, S. Tatman, S. R., Slate, J. R. (2009) Character Education: A Critical Analysis. Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, Volume 4, Number 1.

    Fullan, M. (2021). The right driver for whole system success.

    Fullan, M. & Quinn, J. (2020). Education Re-imagined: The Future of Learning.

    Hilby, S. (2000). Kurt Hahn and the Aims of Education. Thomas James Illustration, UK.

    Huffman, H. (1993). Character education without turmoil. Educational Leadership, 51(3),24-26.

    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, (2022). The Jubilee Centre Framework for Character Education in Schools. The University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

    UK Department of Education (2017). Developing Character Skills in Schools, Department for Education, http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/developing-character-skills-in-schools.

    .

    Peter Gibson

    Peter Gibson is the Dean of Character Education at Barker College. Previously, Head of Senior School (Deputy Principal) at Shellharbour Anglican College and Head of Boarding at Trinity Grammar School, he is a highly experienced educational leader. Peter has led school communities in the development of academic performance built on a Growth Mindset approach to learning. He has been successful in leading the development of the pastoral care programs and has extensive breadth of experience and expertise in co-curricular activities. In his current role, he is leading an exciting innovation in developing the concept of Character and Enterprise Education as well as the implementation of Round Square K-12.

    Character Education

    The understanding of what character education is has changed over time and continues to change as schools ask questions about how they may educate their students to ‘learn to know the good, love the good and do the good’ (The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtue, 2022, p. 6).

    • Peter Gibson
    • 22 June 2023
  • The 2023 calendar commenced on Monday 20/2 with the launch of Lift@Barker, a year long program to elevate our community being run with students and staff each week. Lift@Barker is also an invitation for parents and the community to join in positive practices that are demonstrated to improve your life and mood. Term 1 events also included an event called Discover Barker with a panel discussion featuring Mr Matt Macoustra (Deputy Head Student Experience), Dr Julie Wilson-Reynolds (Deputy Head Academic Care), Mr Cam Anderson (Head of Sport), and Barker parents from across the School, to share their insights and experiences of the school. The first research-focused event for 2023 was a celebration of the rich experience of the Barker Junior School Journey.

    Study Habits Seminar for Year 7 Students and Families

    Term 2 commenced with over 600 people from Year 7 (students and their families) coming together to explore and implement good study habits to be developed throughout secondary school. Good habits are essential to academic flourishing (and all aspects of wellbeing) and events such as these offer scaffolded support for Barker students as they seek to meet their own high expectations at School.

    "Raising Respect" with researcher and educational expert Dr Marshall Ballantine-Jones

    During Wellbeing Week (Week 2) various speakers presented to Year 7-12 students, and also in that week, Dr Marshall Ballantine-Jones shared a parent-specific version of his presentation entitled "Raising Respect". Dr Ballantine-Jones will continue to work with the School in 2023.

    Three Barker Institute events engaging with and educating parent and community during Gifted Awareness Week and Reconciliation Week

    During Term 2 Weeks 5-6, three Barker Institute events were hosted in the school (using a range of the wonderful facilities on offer including the BCMA theatre, Music Recital Hall, and Kurrajong Piazza).

    Former School Captain, and two-time debating world champion, Bo Seo returned to be interviewed by Director of Academic Writing and Oratory, Andrew Hood. Bo has been touring the world promoting his book Good Arguments. Student debaters (including the Junior School firsts) keenly attended, along with parents, teachers and fans from the community. Bo praised his Barker education, which was supplemented by his degree from Harvard University and recommended the humanities for essential knowledge and skills to participate in our changing world.

    As part of Reconciliation Week, Barker hosted parents and staff from the school and various other schools who are part of the Waratah project tolisten to and ask questions of two survivors of the stolen generation. Two former members of the Kinchella Boys Home (only 50 of the 600 housed there are still alive) shared their account of being taken from their families, the abuse in the home, and the long-term effects on their families and communities.

    Following Gifted and Talented Awareness Week,a celebration of the diverse faces of gifteness was held at an evenign event for some very curious and capable parents and students. While Bo Seo was one example of an exceptionally gifted Barker student, many parents are hoping that Barker will meet the needs of their gifted children. Susanna Matters, a new addition to the Barker Staff in 2023 as Gifted and Talented Coordinator (PreK-8) presented an academic overview of gifted education, followed by a panel of eight senior Barker staff members who shared how their particular domain (Music, Maths/Science, Robotics, Aspire, Sport, Individual Learning Centre, English) supported gifted students. It was an excellent conversation and only the start of what we will continue to communicate in this space. What was clear on the night was that Barker’s goal was to develop transformational giftedness in students (that which can be used to bless others) rather than transactional giftedness (that which can be used to improve one’s own situation).

    Click here to access our full list of events.

    Don’t miss out, secure your seats today, and connect to Barker Institute via Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin for more events and research content.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Barker Institute Events, Term 2, 2023

    Parents, students, teachers, and the wider community are warmly welcomed to our events. Five Barker Institute events were held in Term 2, 2023.

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 08 June 2023
  • The overview of gifted education theory was bookended by two wonderful musical performances from Barker Students and all present were grateful for their generous sharing of their talents.

    The second half of the evening involved an extended panel demonstrating the diverse faces of giftedness at the school and the provisions put in place to cater to the needs of figted students at Barker. The panel, hosted by Director of Teaching and Learning, Greg Longney, included representatives from English, Barker’s Individual Learning Centre, Music and Strings programs, Robotics, Junior School Aspire program, Mathematics, Heads of House, Science, and the elite athletes program at the school.

    The Barker Institute wishes to recognise and thank various staff who invested in the evening’s conversation, and more importantly, inspire Barker students to pursue excellence every moment, every day.

    In Pursuit of Excellence: The Diverse Faces of Giftedness at Barker

    Giftedness is a much discussed yet often misunderstood area of education. Within the Barker Community, we seek to support and celebrate giftedness across multiple domains.

    • Matthew Hill
    • 06 June 2023

  • Recently the Sydney Morning Herald published an opinion piece: Students must learn how to get things wrong. The article did the rounds on Barker's email, sending a flutter amongst our humanities departments. I could hear a celebratory cry of "Yes!".

    Yes! It is true. We wish our students to fail.

    We wish them to argue one case only to see the potential of another. We hope they recognise that we do not live in a binary world of right and wrong but in a nuanced and diverse world. We hope our students will fail with grace and curiosity, eager to learn that there is another way. We hope our students live in a world that is not characterised by a fear of failure but characterised by the liberation of opportunity.

    According to the article, "literature and other humanities subjects are important because they teach us how not to be right". In a world of shifting knowledge and expertise, the value of the humanities is more important than ever. While the idea of a universal human experience might sound like a cliché, embedded in that cliché is a universal truth: human failure and struggle are inevitable and one we must learn.

    The humanities offer a lens through which our students can explore the intricate tapestry of human struggle. By immersing themselves in artistic masterpieces and philosophical inquiries, our students gain profound insights into the diverse and often conflicting perspectives that shape our world. These explorations challenge preconceived notions and foster critical thinking, preparing our students to confront the complexities of a rapidly changing world.

    Literature, specifically, teaches us the value of embracing uncertainty and discomfort. Novels like Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four invite readers to recognise their fragility, challenging individuals to be on their guard, to defend the "human heritage" in the face of a collective, insipid, ruthless and dehumanising force (did someone say AI?). Immersing students in narratives of challenge and discomfort, we cultivate in them hope and resilience, fostering curiosity, adaptability and fearlessness.

    As the article states: "being good at English involves relinquishing neat summaries and correct answers". The value of the humanities lies in students' ability to explore the problems and complexities of humanity. I encourage our students to let go of the need to master formulaic and memorised essays. I challenge our students to be brave, be creative, be experimental, ask challenging questions and be curious. Let go of fixed mindsets, rebel, subvert, embrace uncertainty, and prioritise being interesting over being safe. These qualities are essential for building a future generation prepared to confront the uncertainties of an ever-shifting landscape of knowledge and expertise.

    If there is hope it lies in the humanities.

    Laura Craven

    Laura Craven is the Head of English at Barker College. She is an experienced educational leader, having previously held the position of Head of English at Gosford Selective High School. Laura is a highly regarded and experienced HSC Marker, currently holding the position of Supervisor of Marking with NESA. Laura has written programs for the English Teachers Association and spoken at a number of University HSC Study Days. Currently, Laura is studying a Masters of Education - Learning and Leadership.

    If There is Hope it Lies in the Humanities

    Recently the Sydney Morning Herald published an opinion piece: Students must learn how to get things wrong.

    • Laura Craven
    • 01 June 2023
  • In a packed-out Music Recital Hall, a highly receptive audience of parents and students enjoyed Bo’s sharing of his experiences and the wisdom he has gained from debating, coaching and a professional career in journalism. In particular, the evening was a celebration of the Humanities and the power of words and rhetoric to not only sharpen our understanding of an issue but also, counter-intuitively, to build bridges between people and weaken the polarisation of modern society.

    The conclusion to Bo’s book actually puts its purpose very clearly:

    To change the world, debate has first to change the lives of debaters. In this book, I have told the story of how it changed mine. Debate gave me a voice when I had none. It taught me how to argue for my interests, respond to opponents, use words, lose with grace, and pick my battles. As far as transformations of the world go, this is minuscule but, for me, it was everything. [308]


    Across the course of the conversation, Bo explored how debate can give voice to students and open up new worlds through an engagement with the issues involved. Debate certainly took Bo from a shy Korean-Australian migrant child to the National Schools championships, to a Harvard education and then to winning the World University championships in only his second year at University. Along the way, he took us through some of the mental techniques he discovered in constructing arguments, finding clear ways to break down issues into key components. For example, at a core level, he suggested that all debates come down to questions of fact, value or action: is it true?; is it right?; and what should we then do? He also explored a mental checklist for engaging in a productive argument: is it a real issue? Is it an important issue? Can it be made specific? Are the two sides aligned? (RISA)

    A key point made was that at the core of the humanities is human discourse – there are no absolute right or wrongs but better and worse ways to promote dialogue and build consensus between people. Bo provided a very good sense, both in his conversation and in his book, on how to use argument to do exactly that – by respecting the other side through careful listening, teasing out key ideas with careful consideration, knowing when to argue and when to leave it alone, and how to deal with bullying and ad hominem arguments.

    Finally, those of us who have read Bo’s book were highly impressed by his limpid style and engaging personal narrative. On being asked about this, Bo argued that in both debating and writing, it’s crucial the writer does the hard work to make sure that the reader is absolutely clear what the idea is. This pre-work, in setting up a topic through the elimination of distracting elements, is a key part of what makes good writing and strong communication.

    Bo’s highly fluent and captivating presentation gave students a strong sense of how to use the tools of thought and debate to influence the world while building connections with others.

    Good Arguments with Bo Seo

    Last week, Barker had the privilege of hosting ex-student, Bo Seo, a National and World champion School and University debater who has recently published a book, Good Arguments, that threads together his personal narrative in debating with insightful ideas about how to argue well.

    • Andrew Hood
    • 30 May 2023
  • The content was confronting, however, the evening was an invaluable opportunity to speak to two of the few remaining survivors of a terrible time in history. The survivors were able to tell of the time they were taken from their families, their relationship with the other boys in the home, and what life has looked like since. Our Head of History, Julia Kerr, rightly highlighted the importance of hearing from the Uncles directly, as first hand sources. The Uncles from Kinchela were so impressed with the genuine care, insightful questions and respectful approach of our students. We thank them for their willingness to share how the trauma has affected them and their families in the decades after leaving the Kinchella Boys Home. We long with them for increasing opportunities for reconciliation.

    For more information - visit the website of the Kinchella Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation.

    National Reconciliation Week was recognised at Barker through a number of activities and lessons across all year groups. It begins with Sorry Day on the 26th of May, then the anniversary of the delivery of the Bringing Them Home Report on the 27th of May, concluding on the 3rd of June, the anniversary of the Mabo Decision of 1992. This year’s theme was “Be a VOICE for Generations”. In the Junior School, their Yarning Circle participated in awareness activities on Sorry Day, Friday 26th of May, they participated in colouring in competition and classroom activities throughout the week.

    Following these activities, including the visit from the Kinchella Boys Home survivors described above, during our Connect Group lessons, all secondary school students learnt about the meaning of Reconciliation and this year’s theme. On Thursday, Footprint and Yarn UP collaborated on a lunch time event which focused on encouraging students and staff to use their voice to encourage Reconciliation. Symbolically held under the beautiful Booroo-meraang Welumbulla tree, the students also graffitied (temporarily of course) the road to remind us of the power of our own voices.

    Truth Telling: Stories from the Kinchela Boys Home

    As part of Reconciliation Week 2023 at Barker two survivors from the Kinchela Boys Home visited the school to share firsthand voices of those remaining from the stolen generation.

    • 29 May 2023
  • Character as personal flourishing and citizenship

    Our moral fabric is reflected in who we are and how this impacts others (Miller, 2018).

    In ancient Greece, Aristotle described seeking ‘phronesis’, practical wisdom or good sense allowing the individual to contribute productively as a citizen. Aristotle invoked the relationship between virtue and happiness in achieving a state of full personal flourishing or as he called it, eudaimonia (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

    The Judeo-Christian perspective closely considers virtuous behaviour impacting the individual and society. From the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs to the model, example and invitation of Jesus as presented in New Testament Gospels there is an understanding of character as a personal attribute for the benefit of oneself and society (Piestsch, 2018).

    From the Eastern traditions, the teachings of Confucius encouraged virtues such as humanity, justice, honesty, etiquette, wisdom, and truthfulness as being good for the individual and society. Like in Christianity, Confucianism promotes selfless love and compassion being central to the method of humanity (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

    Character as Aspiration

    Another aspect that defines character concerns a forward-focused view of life where one looks to ‘become’ rather than ‘be’ in the present (Pietsch, 2018).

    From a Biblical perspective, the Christian aspires to develop Christ-like virtues showing high moral standards and caring for others in a manner where the needs of others are put before their own (e.g. Philippians 2:1-10, 4:8). Likewise, eastern traditions have their unique list of virtues and vices to focus on becoming a better person. Examples include the five virtues of character of the Taoist Tradition, to Hinduism’s emphasis on self-improvement, and the Buddhist Virtues of the Eightfold Path (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Each have their own purposes and means of attainment, but there is substantial overlap in the values that are aspired to.

    Character as Success

    Crisis and opportunities befall every life and often it is how one responds to these situations that determines success. We may consider it character that determines whether one responds successfully.

    In his book ‘Integrity’, Dr Henry Cloud highlights how our morals and ethics safeguard our relationships, business, government, finance, and personal lives (Cloud, 2009). He defines character as the ability to meet the demands of reality.

    Similarly, Peterson & Seligman consider character as “traits that recognise individual differences that are stable and general but also shaped by the individual’s setting and thus capable of change” (p.10). Whilst a person’s strengths and virtues highlight their differences from others, their positive traits need to be placed in context with each situation they are in (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

    A definition of Character.

    Bringing these perspectives together, character traits or virtues, are what shape us. They allow us to make the right decision, at the right time and for the right reason. Character is the accumulation of continued deposits of choices and actions brought on through the experiences we have and thus can be developed. In this way, character metabolises each experience we endure or are exposed to. It enables human beings to respond appropriately in their lives, cooperate and learn with others in a manner that is peaceful, neighbourly, and morally justifiable. Finally, it is the factor that enables us to be successful in our given vocations, tasks, and interests.

    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, based at the University of Birmingham, is a leading voice in the UK and around the world on character and virtues. The report offers particularly helpful definitions of character and virtues.

    (Character is a) set of personal traits or dispositions that produce specific moral emotions, inform motivation, and guide conduct.
    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, 2022, p. 7

    They also offer a definition of Virtues.

    (Virtues are) positive personal strengths.
    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, 2022, p. 7

    These key definitions provide a succinct understanding of what is meant by character. In a school setting such a definition may be helpful to students, staff, and parents in achieving a shared understanding of character and foundational knowledge in learning about Character Education.

    An extended essay on this topic can be downloaded here.

    This blog is the first in a series. Click here to read the second blog "Character Education".

    Reference List

    Cloud, H. (2009). Integrity: the courage to meet the demands of reality. How six essential qualities determine your success in Business. Harper, New York.

    Konstan, D. (2005). Epicurus. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epicurus/

    Miller, C. B. (2018). The Character Gap. Oxford University Press, New York.

    Peterson, C & Seligman, M. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Oxford University Press, New York.

    Pietsch, J. (2018). Character Reborn: A philosophy of Christian Education. Acorn Press, Sydney.

    The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, (2022). The Jubilee Centre Framework for Character Education in Schools. The University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

    Peter Gibson

    Peter Gibson is the Dean of Character Education at Barker College. Previously, Head of Senior School (Deputy Principal) at Shellharbour Anglican College and Head of Boarding at Trinity Grammar School, he is a highly experienced educational leader. Peter has led school communities in the development of academic performance built on a Growth Mindset approach to learning. He has been successful in leading the development of the pastoral care programs and has extensive breadth of experience and expertise in co-curricular activities. In his current role, he is leading an exciting innovation in developing the concept of Character and Enterprise Education as well as the implementation of Round Square K-12.

    Defining "Character"

    What makes a human life worthwhile? What is important to us? What is going to give our lives more meaning? The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus’ (341–270 B.C) view of life was simple in that the primary goal was to maximise happiness and pleasure and to avoid physical pain, anxiety or disturbance (Konstan, 2005). However, a deeper view of humanness has been explored throughout history with a much more positive view of human character.

    • Peter Gibson
    • 22 May 2023
  • On Tuesday evening, May 2nd, parents engaged in a thought-provoking presentation by Dr Marshall Ballantine-Jones as he shared years of research of how to reduce negative effects of sexualisation, isolation and narcissism through online and social media activities of young people today. Some main points of Marshall’s presentation will be highlighted here.

    In the case of explicit sexual material, research reveals that average age of first time exposure for today’s youth was at 11½ years old. Early and over exposure changes the way the brain sees the world. It alters attitudes, behaviours and neural pathways. In spite of all this media invading their lives, what we as parents SAY does make a difference. Saying the same key messages that you love and support your children and the reason there are rules in place will prove to be useful for engaging with your children. In addition to this, what you DO makes a big difference also. By emulating the behaviour and habits you expect of you children will help them model their behaviour on yours.

    Educating our young people about risks associated with pornography, social media, and narcissism does not harm them. Through Wellbeing Week, 2023, and on other occasions, Barker is educating students (and families) about themselves, consent and Respectful Relationships at school, home, and online.

    We thank Dr Marshall Ballantine-Jones for a compelling presentation. The audience was buoyed by his knowledge and multiple strategies to confront these urgent issues.

    More information on Marshall Ballantine-Jones’ research can be found HERE.

    Resources recommended by Marshall Ballantine-Jones include:

    Culture reframed : https://parents.culturereframed.org/about-us/

    eSafety Commissioner : https://www.esafety.gov.au
    Advice And Resources On Keeping You And Your Family Safe Online.

    Filtering apps including:

    -Family Zone

    -Covenant Eyes

    -Bark

    -mSpy

    -Canopy

    Raising Respect with Marshall Ballantine-Jones

    A summary of a thought-provoking presentation by Dr Marshall Ballantine-Jones on the topic of RAISING RESPECT.

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 11 May 2023
  • Parents and teachers are always looking for ways to increase our children’s motivation, engagement and achievement. Unfortunately, the post COVID world has seen an increasing number of students feeling anxious, distracted or disinterested in the learning process. Perhaps we sometimes feel frustrated that, like the horse in the quotation above, our young people are not eagerly taking up the riches of learning they have been offered.

    This week we were very pleased to have Dr Andrew Martin, Professor of Educational Psychology from the University of New South Wales, share with Barker staff his research into promoting academic achievement and how we can encourage our students to develop what he calls ‘academic buoyancy’. Academic buoyancy is the ability to successfully deal with learning setbacks and challenges that are typical in the ordinary course of school life. Dr Martin reminded us that you cannot force success on someone, (referencing the horse drinking quotation above) but you can create the climate in which aspiration for that success is far more appealing. His research and practical resources support our focus on challenge, care and connection for building capacity in our learners.

    Dr Martin shared with us his 5 C’s for building motivation and engagement. With his permission I will list them here and add my own tips for parents:

    Confidence – take the time to speak with your child in ways that will strengthen their self-belief. Try to avoid solving problems for them but do be there for support and advice as they wrestle with challenges—and continue to encourage them for the ways they are growing through this.

    Control – encourage your young person to discuss the things they can control, for example their effort, their strategy and their attitude. Avoid giving airtime to external forces which are the things that are not within their control.

    Composure – work with your student to manage moments of anxiety to help them keep all things regarding their learning in perspective. It can be useful to approach catastrophising on a sliding scale. Ask your child to share what they consider could be the worst thing that could happen, then to consider what is the best thing that could happen and then consider the likelihood of the result being somewhere in the middle. This can be a really useful exercise.

    Coordination – encourage your learner to plan ahead, embrace organisation and foresee risks on the horizon.

    To further support the development of these competencies, parents are reminded that all students have access to an online resource,Study Skills Handbookthat students have access too. Discuss access with your child or contact the school for login details.

    We know that relationships are central to excellent outcomes in learning. Using the 5 C’s in our conversations are part of the climate control we want to establish for our students. In our classrooms at school and in the conversations at home we seek to work together to help our children be thirsty learners.

    If you would like to read further on this topic, I commend Dr Martin’s book titled: How to Motivate Your Child for School and Beyond.

    Academic Buoyancy

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. But you can salt the oats to make it thirsty!

    • Dr Julie Wilson-Reynolds
    • 02 May 2023
  • Various research questions guided the process, centering around schooling in the 21st century with data collection focused on listening to student voice. The data consisted of annual interviews of a key group of 30 representative students, supplemented by whole cohort group interviews of all students in Year 3, and a survey of all students in Year 6.

    Four years of research can be summarised into 20 key findings, as presented in the table below. These findings are in relation to the five themes identified as the outset of the project in 2019 including values, relationships, resilience, coeducation and aspirations. These findings are being presented to the Barker College and national and international research communities trough various events in 2023. Each finding is explored and justified in the publication in the 2022 Barker Institute Journal, Learning in Practice.

    While this report serves an an important milestone (the culmination of the Barker Junior School Journey), the Journey and therefore the research is by no means complete. The project continues with the Year 7 cohort of 2023, now incorporating a whole group of students new to Barker College who are commencing their Journey through the Barker College Secondary School. We look forward to hearing these students voices, and sharing their stories, to continue to understand the needs, and achievements, of schooling in the third decade of the 21st century.

    The full report can be downloaded here: The Barker Junior School Journey Report on Year 3-6 from 2019-2022

    Cover The Barker Junior School Journey Report on Year 3-6 from 2019-2022

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    The Barker Junior School Journey: Reporting on Years 3-6 from 2019-2022

    The Barker Journey longitudinal study has now completed its fourth year. The subjects of the study are a group of students who celebrated the conclusion of their primary schooling in 2022. Detailed results reporting on the first four years have recently been shared.

    • Dr Matthew Hill, Dr Timothy Scott
    • 20 March 2023
  • ChatGPT.

    It isn’t changing the classroom.

    It changed the classroom.

    Past tense.

    The urgency that has frequently accompanied this realisation has often been directed on discussions concerned about what students will be doing with it, particularly in relation to assessments. And fair enough too. How do we accurately determine a student’s understanding if the means to assess that understanding has been essentially outsourced to something like ChatGPT? I’ve been pondering the use of ChatGPT in the classroom, the type of tool that it can be for the teacher and student. These are just some of my own initial thoughts as both a teacher and a researcher.

    In my own discipline of History, it would appear that many teachers have welcomed ChatGPT as a much-needed catalyst for assessment. It has compelled conversations about how a student’s historical thinking might be tested, enabling conditions for the development of a fresher approach to engaging students in key questions about studying the past. But these conversations are still in their infancy. If anything, they show that as teachers and students increase familiarity with ChatGPT there will be more certainty about how to integrate ChatGPT into the classroom.

    My own interactions with ChatGPT in the classroom have so far proved positive. It has been the source of solid discussions with students about what constitutes quality in historical thinking and writing. Recently, I selected a sample answer provided to me by a student to put up on the screen to add depth to the conversation about the topic the class was tackling. It was evident that the student had used ChatGPT to write this answer! Rather than rejecting the sample answer as invalid, I turned the situation to his and to the class’ advantage. The learning moment that followed lasted 40-minutes as the pros and cons of the submitted answer were scrutinised. What worked well? What needed improving? The writing had a clear structure, but it lacked historical sources. The answer had good examples, but it needed a deeper level of detail. Students were able to suggest solutions to these deficiencies, as well as take the opportunity to explain why they thought the positives were good takeaways to remember and use later.

    As a researcher, my mind drifts towards the students and their perspective. Much of the reaction to ChatGPT in the classroom has been, it would appear to me, centred on teacher-reactions and teacher-concerns. Teacher-centric, perhaps, would be a better way of putting it. However, what of the student in all of this? Are they not a key stakeholder in the (monumental) change to learning that ChatGPT brought about? How are students going to do History (in my case) in light of the ongoing changes to learning, teaching and schooling that AIs like ChatGPT wil continue to bring? I would think so. To that end, the researcher in me wants to know how students see ChatGPT, how it figures in their thinking and the degree to which they see it the same way as their teachers. Assuming there are different perspectives that are identified by such questions, how do we reconcile them so the use of AI in education can be effective and productive?

    ChatGPT has changed the classroom. There is no doubt about that. As a teacher, I can see that this change can be embraced. As a researcher, I can see there are many questions to pose and to consider as policies about ChatGPT’s use (and for that matter the use of AI in schools) emerge. As a teacher, I see ChatGPT enabling more powerful conversations in the classroom to be had as well as historical thinking and writing to develop. As a researcher, ChatGPT has opened another avenue to understand the changes in learning, teaching and schooling being experienced by the present generation of student.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    ChatGPT. Reflections as a teacher. Thoughts as a researcher.

    ChatGPT. It isn't changing the classroom. It changed the classroom. Past tense. And this change can be embraced.

    • Dr Timothy Scott
    • 24 February 2023
  • The 2023 calendar commenced on Monday 20/2 with the launch of Lift@Barker, a year long program to elevate our community being run with students and staff each week on campus. Lift@Barker is not just for Barker, but an invitation for parents and the community to join in positive practices that are demonstrated to improve your life and mood.

    On 2 March new parents are invited to attend an event called Discover Barker with a panel discussion featuring Mr Matt Macoustra (Deputy Head Student Experience), Dr Julie Wilson-Reynolds (Deputy Head Academic Care), Mr Cam Anderson (Head of Sport), and Barker parents from across the School, to share their insights and experiences of the school.

    On 20 March will be a celebration of the rich experience of the Barker Junior School Journey. Over the last four years the Barker Institute has been conducting a large-scale longitudinal research project collecting the student perspective of life and learning at Barker. These students were the first coeducational Year 3 cohort at the school (in 2019) and have now graduated Year 6. The analysis will be presented allowing for a better understanding of this cohort of students (now in Year 7 at Barker) but also a lesson on the role of education in the third decade of the 21st century.

    Year 7 families are invited to a special event on Wednesday 26 April, the very first day back of Term 2. The grade will come together to learn about, discuss, and begin to implement good study habits to be developed and used over their time at barker.

    During the first week of May students in the Secondary School at Barker will be attending sessions with external expert Dr Marshall Ballantine-Jones on the impact of various online behaviors common to teens. On Tuesday 2 May, Barker parents and those beyond the school will have an opportunity to hear from Dr Ballantine-Jones on the topic of Raising Respect and Teen online behaviours.

    I look forward to announcing future events in areas such as gifted and talented education, reconciliation and indigenous education, supporting teens who love online gaming, and various research forums sharing work currently being undertaken in the school.

    Click here to access our full list of events.

    Don’t miss out, secure your seats today, and connect to Barker Institute via Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin for more events and other research content.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Barker Institute Events for Semester 1, 2023

    The first five events of the 2023 Barker Institute event calendar have been released, commencing with the community launch of the Lift@Barker project. Parents, students, teachers, and the wider community are warmly welcomed to our events. More events for Term 2 and Semester 2 will be announced soon.

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 20 February 2023
  • A key benefit to in-school research can be the authentic incorporation of student voice in the stories that are told. As education continues to evolve, many are noticing how student voice as evidence has assumed a greater role in informing practice. Several articles in this edition of Learning in Practice directly address the place of student voice in educational research. The Barker Journey follows a group of Barker students as they make their way through schooling in the 21st century, granting us the privilege of understanding learning, teaching and schooling from the perspective of the learner. Another example is Lucy Pitkin’s article on student reflections on the Garma Festival which provide an informative insight into student responses to learning about and celebrating Yolŋu culture through cultural immersion. In listening to student voice in the context of responses to Garma, Pitkin reveals a student-informed approach to Reconciliation.

    There is a great deal to celebrate in this, the sixth edition of Learning in Practice, the journal of the Barker Institute. We are proud of this year’s publication and hope that you will find it both useful and informative.

    You can read the 2022 Journal here.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Publication of the 6th Edition of Learning in Practice: The Barker Institute Journal

    Publishing the close-to-practice research that takes place within the Barker community is an important part of the Barker Institute’s role within the school. We are keen to share what has been learnt by experts in education, be those expert classroom practitioners, pastoral care and wellbeing leaders, or school leaders. Learning in Practice is a published conversation in which reflections on practice take place, and professional learning and development benefit.

    • Dr Timothy Scott, Dr Matthew Hill
    • 20 February 2023
  • The night commenced with nutritious lifting juice shots for attendees recognising the role of nutrition on overall health and wellbeing.

    Before introducing Dr Morten, Dr Julie Wilson Reynolds, Deputy Head Academic Care explained the drive behind Lift@Barker. Barker seeks to create a community of individuals who are not only safe and protected, but flourishing and truly enjoying the view from the metaphorical headland.

    Dr Morten inspired an audience primarily made up of Barker parents to think about how their brain works and offered a few simple tips for improving mood each day. These include recognising the role of the limbic system in the brain ("Your limbo is listening"), movement, and getting into nature ("Blue and green should often be seen") are all topics that are being explored by Barker students and staff in 2023.

    Lisa Chalmers, Director of Health and Wellbeing, and Elizabeth Pritchard, Coordinator of Student Wellbeing explained how the ten month program is being implemented on campus at Barker, and how parents could get involved themselves or facilitate family discussions around the topics.

    For more information, visit the website of theLift project, or if you are family of a Barker student, have them show you the Lift project as they see it through their Barker Canvas site.

    The Barker Institute is partnering with Dr Darren Morten and Avondale University to document and research this exciting endeavour and we look forward to sharing with the wider community at the conclusion of 2023 Lift@Barker.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    The Lift Project: A year-long, evidence-based wellbeing project for the whole Barker community

    Special guest Dr Darren Morten of Avondale University and The Lift Project shared with an eager group of parents how with practice and the right strategies anyone, at any age, can Lift their mood and their life.

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 20 February 2023
  • The website features news, events and publications centered around the five key research domains as set out by the 2021-2022 Research Agenda. It allows for searchable and easy access to current and future Barker thinking in these areas. Learning is at the centre of Barker College and The Barker Institute and it is hoped that anyone who visits the website may be able to learn something to impact their lives or their teaching.

    Of particular interest to some will be our events. The Barker Institute hosts 15-20 events each year for parents, teachers, students and the wider community. All are invited to join this community of learning whether the expert presenter is on Barker staff or an invited guest. RSVP early to secure your seats.

    Another exciting page is where we hold our published work. Dissemination is a vital step in the research process and the Barker Institute has now published 6 editions of the journal Learning in Practice which features staff academic writing. Whether it is a staff member completing a PhD, someone conducting research as part of their role at the school, or simply an area of interest or professional growth, there are many valuable contributions of interest to the wider education community. A growing repository of student research can also be found on this page.

    To get in contact with any of the researchers and thinkers featured on this website, you can make an inquiry online. We’d love to hear from you.

    "Barker.Institute" - A new repository of education thinking and research

    The Barker Institute exists to use the rich intellectual resources of the school to facilitate learning and growth in the school and beyond. This new website allows for education research and good thinking from Barker to be accessed around the world.

    • The Barker Institute Team
    • 19 February 2023

  • We are excited to note the aspirational approach that our parents have for their children’s learning at Barker. Our Academic Staff share these high expectations and take great care to extend and challenge their students. Our recent HSC results are testimony to the ways in which the Barker experience builds capacity in learning, with students, at all levels of ability, raising their results well beyond expectations.

    One of the most important ways that we can support the Academic Care of our students is to give them time to reflect on their goals, organise their study, plan homework and use resources to build skills for learning. Our parents (particularly in Middle School) have given us feedback that they would like to see more homework. Our Heads of Departments will be addressing this within their faculties and reinforcing it with our students.

    Sometimes lapses in homework flow from a lack of direction or organisation. Another way to reinforce the importance of homework is to help our Middle School students manage their own learning responsibilities. Our Connect teachers this year in Years 7 and 8 will focus on building learner agency in a set time each week in a program called “Responsible Approaches to Learning” – or “ReALTime”. They will provide time for students to get organised, work on study notes, complete approaches to learning, respond to feedback, plan their homework times, and access online study skill resources. One on one conversations with students can also be had in this time. Our Study Hall program, established in 2022, will also continue this year, and is a reminder of the importance of consolidating learning at home.

    What can parents do if they come across the “I have no homework” mantra? Which, as we know, often causes conflict at the dinner table. We encourage parents to engage in discussion about the topics that their son or daughter is learning and challenge them to read more widely or deeply on the task. Our English classes will all have a set text or a wide reading book to read and deliberate practice in a maths skill to review. Study notes, further research or creating mind maps are also ideas for students to take their learning further. Homework will always work best when students are proactive in their learning and make the consolidation of what they are working on in class a top priority. By teachers and parents working together on learning beyond the classroom we will set our students up for great success.

    Responsible Learners

    Educators understand the importance of feedback. At Barker we are grateful for the feedback of parents from last year's parent survey. The Learning Team is taking note of the areas for improvement and will thoughtfully address these topics over the Term.

    • Dr Julie Wilson-Reynolds
    • 03 February 2023
  • ChatGPT

    It is impossible to miss the current media conversation about the advent of ChatGPT and the rise of artificial intelligence. The renowned news and commentary outlet DW (ChatGPT is changing education, AI experts say — but how? – DW – 01/24/2023) recently declared that “ChatGPT is changing education, AI experts say – but how?”

    You will have read last week about ChatGPT and how Barker, along with educators around the world, are looking closely at how it may affect education. We are taking a deliberate approach to this very important question.

    ChaptGPT has many potential benefits. Teachers can use it to quickly produce and then share sub-par responses that students work to improve. Using the technology in a critical way will help students to be thoughtful users. If the tool is part of a collaborative process between the teacher and the student, then it has much potential for learning. It could also help students directly. For example, Lukas Stock writes for Deutsche Welle about university scientists with little coding experience who used ChatGPT to help them write code quickly to analyse their experiments. The alternative was spending hours learning to code from scratch, which would only have slowed their work. One can imagine students in advanced Science classes using it in a similar way. Maths students once used slide rules and cosine tables to solve problems; now they use calculators.

    But there are also pitfalls. Just like with calculators, if students use ChatGPT to produce work that they need to do themselves to learn, then they risk never learning the important knowledge and skills that school provides. They risk becoming reliant on the technology and lose out on the deeper understanding that leads to creativity. However, cheating has always existed, and there have always been concerns with new technologies such as Wikipedia or the even older CD-ROM encyclopedias. Schools found ways to adapt, and the challenge we face is how to respond to ChatGPT. It is important to remember that ChatGPT is not an original thinker, but our teachers and our students are. We must remember this as we assess and embrace new technologies.

    The way forward lies in much of what we already do: challenge our students to think critically and assess them on that rather than rote recall of information. Form relationships with students and know them well. Encourage and inspire them with the challenge of learning. ChatGPT is a tool, and while tools can certainly improve performance quickly, especially in the short term, a tool is ultimately limited by the knowledge and skill of the person using it.


    A New Year. New Possibilities.

    As we commence a new year, let me offer some thoughts to help our students for the new possibilities ahead.

    Lay the past to rest.

    The year ahead is an exciting new chapter in your life, and the page is blank now. Anything is possible.

    Be filled with optimism for the year ahead.

    Expect to be amazing. Set your mind on the things that build up. Identify your many strengths and play to them. Focus on your gifts with a thankful heart.

    Read, read, read; Write, write, write.

    Get back into reading and writing – quickly. Grab your English novels and read ahead. Make notes and prepare for learning. There is not a moment to lose.

    Change something.

    It’s a new academic year so change something. Even if it is only small – change something. It makes our minds understand that this is a time for new things.

    Plan for success.

    Good preparation is one of the best antidotes for stress and anxiety. Set up a daily routine or schedule. Make it easy to keep and plan enough times for rest and recreation.

    Get ready for new things.

    A new academic year brings change. Adopt positive “self-talk” and be confident that you are ready to meet any change that comes your way.

    Set goals.

    The blank page of 2023 awaits you. Set SMART goals and make them your guiding star. Don’t make your goals too big. Great journeys are completed by simple steps in manageable stages.


    Our prayer is for all our families and our students, that this may be your best year ever.

    A New Year. New Possibilities. New Artificial Intelligence.

    I hope the year has commenced well for all students, families and Barker staff. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new students and am enormously impressed by their capacity to manage the changes in their lives. Feeling the School’s life return after a break is one of the many delights of my role.

    • Phillip Heath, AM
    • 03 February 2023
  • Earlier in the week, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Year 10 students about what lies ahead for them as they commence their Senior School journey. I talked particualrly about study habits, encouraging them to keep refining the things that are working for them. I challenged them to try new things in order to hone their habits and to become more efficient. I proposed that good study habits usually take a little more effort than most students are prepared to invest. For example, not many students take the time to make a weekly planner. However, those that do find that it helps them to stay organised, allows them to schedule all the things that they want to do as well as the things that they need to do, and, overall, encourages them to be efficient with their time. Similarly, most people don't want to avoid distractions when studying, it just doesn't seem that important. Yet, those that do, find themselves more productive. I look forward to following up with Year 10 later in the year to find out how they are progressing.

    One of the things that may come to influence study habits is developing technology. Through the paring of chatbot technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI), ChatGPT by OpenAI has caused a lot of noise, and much debate, since its release in November of 2022. As staff and students return to schools, the media has run a number of pieces predicting the consequences for education.

    If you're not familiar with the term, ChatGPT is an AI-driven natural language processing tool that can converse with people, respond to questions, write essays and complete well-defined tasks. It functions like an online chatbot where a user types a question or prompt, and ChatGPT AI presents a response. The user can refine the output by further questioning the AI to achieve the desired outcome. It is this feature that makes ChatGPT stand out from previous iterations of AI-enabled Chatbots.

    In schools, we must be aware of the implications that emerging tools like ChatGPT and other responsive AI models could have on the teaching, learning and academic outcomes of students. Barker College is monitoring these developments with great interest to ensure positive educational outcomes for our community.

    To give you an idea of what we're talking about, what follows is the response that ChatGPT gave (in about 10 seconds) to the question of the likely implications of ChatGPT on education.

    ChatGPT and other advanced language models have the potential to revolutionise education in many ways. Here are a few examples of how ChatGPT could be used in the classroom:

    Automated Essay Grading: ChatGPT can be trained to understand and grade student essays based on specific criteria, such as grammar, organisation, and content. This would allow teachers to spend more time providing individual feedback to students, rather than grading papers.

    Personalised Learning: ChatGPT can be used to create personalised lesson plans for students based on their individual needs and abilities. This would allow teachers to focus on the areas where each student needs the most help, rather than teaching to the middle of the class.

    Virtual Tutoring: ChatGPT can be used to provide virtual tutoring to students who need extra help outside of class. This would allow students to receive personalised instruction in a convenient and flexible manner.

    Language Learning: ChatGPT can be used to create interactive language-learning programs that can help students learn a new language more effectively. This would allow students to practise speaking and listening in a more natural and interactive way.

    However, there are also some potential downsides to using ChatGPT in education. One concern is that it could lead to a reduction in human interaction and personalised feedback between teachers and students. Additionally, it could also lead to a greater reliance on technology, which could be detrimental if the technology fails or is not available.

    Overall, ChatGPT and other advanced language models have the potential to greatly enhance education, but it is important to use them in a responsible and thoughtful manner, taking into account both the benefits and potential downsides.
    ChatGPT

    Best wishes for the year ahead (this is me again, not the bot).

    Greg Longney

    Greg Longney is a teacher of History and the Director of Teaching and Learning. His Masters of Education (Research) focused on how History teachers understand disciplinary knowledge and how they communicate it to their students. In 2017 Greg has been part of the National Emerging Leaders Program and in 2018 he has worked with a team of staff on the Elevate program to investigate high potential learning at Barker College. Greg continues to teach History from 7-12 and still regards the classroom experience as the most rewarding aspect of his role

    Studying with your New Best Friend - the Chatbot!

    In schools, we must be aware of the implications that emerging tools like ChatGPT and other responsive AI models could have on the teaching, learning and academic outcomes of students. Barker College is monitoring these developments with great interest to ensure positive educational outcomes for our community.

    • Greg Longney
    • 27 January 2023
  • Learning from experts and making connections

    Monday included sessions on the future of STEM education and a keynote from Professor George Siemens of The University of Adelaide exploring the changing landscape of schools and universities and balancing the abundance of data with complexity research approaches.

    On Tuesday I joined a lunch with fellow school-based research leads who are part of the Research Invested Schools Network following a presentation on an ongoing research project mapping the growth of Research Invested Schools in Australia. That afternoon included a symposium to understand how to address a perceived teacher shortage Australia-wide.

    Wednesday sessions included networking with academics working in consent education, indigenous education and refugee education. These are three areas directly related to the Barker Institute Research Agenda. More to come in this space!

    Presenting four years of research

    The highlight on Thursday was the chance to present our own research to the academic community. After four years of data collection and analysis we were ready to present on the Junior School Barker Journey, demonstrating how research can present the expectations and reality of educating Generation Alpha in the third decade of the 21st Century. The interactive session was well attended, and audience members asked to learn more about various aspects of the project. Many are considering implementing a similar project at their school and have asked to be included in correspondence regarding ongoing updates for the research. A similar presentation will be made to the Barker Community at a Barker Institute event in Term 2 2023, and the publication of this work is included in the 2022 Barker Institute Journal, Learning in Practice, now available at online.

    The Barker Institute is grateful for the support of Barker College to attend the AARE National Conference. It was well worth the investment for the benefit of Barker and beyond.

    Key links:

    2022 Barker Institute Journal

    The Barker Junior School Journey: Report on Year 3-6 from 2019-2022

    The Barker Journey – Year 6, 2022: Community and Belonging

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    AARE Conference 2022 – Transforming the Future of Education: The Role of Research

    The Barker Institute was represented at the Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference in Adelaide last week including a presentation on the first four years of the Barker Journey. I had the opportunity to attend sessions on all four days of the conference on topics related to our Research Agenda before our own presentation on the final day.

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 05 December 2022
  • This is addressed in Chapter 1 with the first thing that goes wrong in schools. The authors suggest that too much advice is given from bodies external to the teaching profession. This advice can often be implemented without the necessary work of translating these ideas into the school and classroom context. They call on the teaching community to take it upon themselves to document the profession and to demonstrate this translation by building a library of material, or a body of knowledge regarding what works and what needs to change (p23). Despite the differences amongst teachers, a way of consistently documenting, presenting and disseminating their work is needed. (p36).

    The Barker Institute is deliberately taking positive steps to achieve this through its role as a research centre, learning hub and publication house, seeking to collate staff thinking and disseminate it in meaningful formats suitable for use in and beyond Barker College.

    But enough about what we get right, what might be going wrong? Horvath and Bott explore nine further obstacles to highly effective learning in schools. Topics include:

    • the awarding of grades (Chapter 3): A shift in discussion is encouraged, from “how can we organize assessment in a way that will improve student outcomes?” to “What worldview do grades espouse?” (p40). We need to assess the holistic impact of the way we award grades.
    • the problems with the practice and messaging of homework tasks (Chapter 4): that the purpose and intent of having homework is often unclear which means it is given in a way that rarely achieves the benefits a school may desire.
    • distractions with using technology (Chapter 7): Computers facilitate the unhelpful distraction of task-switching e.g. “when using a computer for homework, students typically last less than 6 minutes before accessing social media, messaging friends and engaging with other digital distractions” p94.
    • the purpose of incentives and motivation (Chapter 8): Behavioral nudges are used to bring about positive actions and behaviours but, unintendedly, they also “transmit our social values” (p112) and teachers need to be careful of the reward-based worldviews they are promoting.
    • and ultimately discussions around the purpose of education as a whole (Chapter 10).

    A regular theme in the book is the implicit (and sometimes explicit) messaging related to the purpose of education and how this plays out daily in the classroom. Teachers are trained to share learning intentions in the classroom such that students know the purpose of each lesson, but not necessarily the deeper questions such as “why do I need to be here” and “why do I need to learn this?”

    The conventional approach to the purpose of schooling, perhaps advocated for by government and industry, is to produce the next generation of economic consumers where “you are what you do for a living” and “your worth is measured according to the goods you possess” (p113) and it seems that grading, motivation strategies, timetabling, homework and even computer use at some schools can reinforce this outdated intention.

    At Barker we construct our own narrative of the purpose of education, that of developing humanity and society through providing Christian education that is characterised by a global hope. This is achieved through an extensive curricular and co-curricular program, and activities inspired by the IB Primary Years Program in the Junior School and Roundsquare initiatives designed to expand students’ global appreciation. It was encouraging to read of Horvath and Bott’s suggested alternatives for the narrative of schooling including the next generation of “planetary stewards”, “giant climbers” and “toolmakers”.  The challenge is for us to bring all of our activities in line with our purpose, such that we may be using every practice to be inspiring every learner, every experience, every day.


    Reference List:

    Horvath, JC & Bott, D, 2020, 10 things schools get wrong: and how we can get them right, John Catt Educational Ltd, Melton, Woodbridge.

    Organization, IB, n.d., ‘Primary Years Programme (PYP)’, International Baccalaureate®, viewed 7 June 2022, https://www.ibo.org/programmes/primary-years-programme/.

    ‘Round Square’, n.d., Round Square, viewed 7 June 2022, https://www.roundsquare.org/.

    Book Review - “10 Things Schools Get Wrong: And how we can get them right”

    “10 Things Schools Get Wrong: And how we can get them right” by Dr Jared Cooney Horvath & David Bott

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 22 November 2022
  • Read the full article HERE

    "Schools' research hubs put insights into action"

    The Barker Institute featured in the Australian Financial Review

    • 22 November 2022
  • You can read the story so far in three articles telling the Barker Journey from aYear 3,Year 4, andYear 5 perspective(the Year 5 story was highly impacted by Covid, with the interviews being conducted entirely online). 

    The focus of this study is the class of 2028 (or Year 6 class of 2022) which now has over 160 students each with a valuable story to tell. These students completed a survey during Week 2 of this term. A wealth of data regarding student ambitions, expectations, memories and values is ready for ongoing analysis. During Week 3, the Barker Institute staff conducted individual semi-structured interviews with the 29 students that form the core group who give additional voice to their stories each year of their Barker Journey. Copious notes and approximately six and a half hours of audio and video recordings now exist to be transcribed, coded and analysed.

    Keep watching the Barker Institute website over the next few weeks to see our preliminary findings about Year 6 and how they have bounced back from a substantially Covid-adjusted year in 2021. Later this year we have been accepted to present our findings at the Australian Association for Research in Education conference in Adelaide. We will also be sharing more with the Year 6 community as they celebrate the end of their Junior School journey, and will produce two academic articles that encapsulate these students’ story.

    For now, the only teaser is the image in this article: a word cloud indicating the most common words used by the Year 6 students to describe Barker. The positive impact on these students is clear to all.

    The Barker Institute wishes to thank the wonderful students for generously sharing their stories. We also wish to acknowledge the Year 6 coordinator, Mr Timothy Moyes, and the Year 6 teachers for their support and facilitation, along with Head of Junior School, Mr Martin Lubrano, and Head of Barker College, Mr Phillip Heath, AM.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    The results are in for the Barker Journey 2022 - Year 6

    Two big weeks of data collection for the Barker Journey project

    • 21 November 2022
  • So what memories will stick with the students as they come towards an end to their time in the Barker Junior School? The available 152 students completed a survey in Week 2 of Term 3 which included the question “In one sentence, please describe one thing that you will remember most from your Barker Junior school experience”.

    The responses were coded according to the following categories:

    • Sentiment: Positive, Neutral, Negative
    • Specifics:   Friends, Academics, Teachers, Camps, Music, Sport, Exhibition, Facilities, Orientation
    • Broader Kinds: Success, Events, Relationships, Facilities

    Through this process three findings can already be reported:

    1.    Barker students see the positives

    91% shared a positive sentiment as their one memory that will stick with them. 4% shared negative memories, leaving 5% neutral or ambiguous. These students’ remembering self will enjoy fond memories of Years 3-6.

    2.    They value people over places 

    43% of students shared a memory where it was the relationships that were key. Most spoke of friends (“I will definitely remember my friends and the best times I have had with them e.g., going on camp with them or the first time I met them.”, “I remember my year 5 camp and how I made 3 amazing friends that I didn’t have before.”), but many also teachers (“My year 5 teacher and my year 3 teacher”). This contrasts the 1% of students who mentioned the facilities. In Year 3, these same students shared much more about the amazing facilities of Barker, marveling at the Rosewood Centre, playgrounds and fields, and the pool. Many of the key moments and events occurred in and because of these facilities (see point 3) but it is not the places, but the people who come together in these places that they will remember.

    3.   Key Moments / Events feature strongly for the remembering self 

    Most students, 68%, chose to share a specific event that stuck with them, which included either friendships (“The day I started barker and I met all my best friends.”, “I remember the time that I blocked my best friends layup in basketball while we were playing at lunch”) moments of success in the classroom, in leadership, or on the sporting field ( “Something I will remember is receiving my house captain badge earlier this year.”, “When is scored a three pointer in basketball”, “I got picked for AFL CIS”), or co-curricular activities including music, sport, or especially camps (“Year 5 camp”, “Year 2 camp because it was my first camp”, “The masterpiece concert”). There was wide variety in these responses revealing the immense value in every inspiring activity, as we would never know in advance which interaction or event will stick most firmly in the student’s mind.

    One final interesting observation is that across most categories (sentiment, specifics, and broader kinds) there is very little distinction in responses of male and female students. The two exceptions include a slightly higher percentage of female students including a relational element in their most salient memory, and a slightly higher percentage of male students reporting a particular success.

    The Barker Institute is grateful for the students who generously shared these responses, and the support of the Year 6 teachers and leaders in facilitating this data collection. We look forward to sharing more results in the future through blogs, journal articles and conference presentations.

    Memorable Moments for Year 6

    What is most memorable for Year 6 as they come towards an end of their Barker Junior School Journey?

    • 21 November 2022
  • There are many researchers from diverse fields working on how to best align people with productive habits and many industries eager for the results. We have seen principles such as the 5 Whys to help to build cultures that drill down into specific actionable goals and root intentions, or statements such as Amazon’s leadership principles that guide a culture towards implementing these goals efficiently and with the right priorities and focus.

    Harry Fletcher-Wood is an educator working with teachers directly and indirectly, with a current role focusing on reviewing teacher development with the Ambition Institute . He’s recently written a book entitled Habits of success: getting every student learning where he has consolidated a number of study findings in the behavioural science sphere and applied them directly to student (and increasingly more broadly to teacher and institutional) education. Primarily this is through creating an environment for good habits to form and prosper, and through his own framework encapsulated by the mnemonic SIMPLIFY and numerous practical examples he details ways for teachers to apply this directly to their classrooms, learning to make change both easier and more tempting.

    What is a habit?

    It is hard to summarise Mr Fletcher-Wood's ideas any more succinctly than he does in his regular blog posts, where he defines a habit as “an automatic response to a situation” . Much of students’ daily behaviour (and everyone else’s) is already habitual: students face similar situations each day and their responses become increasingly automatic, such as when they face a new challenge and either habitually engage with solving it or default to shrinking away from the problem.

    Psychologists consistently debate, hypothesise and experiment on how to manifest positive change in people and to have these changes continue to persist into the future. Large insights were published by Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow (Kahneman, 2012) which detailed the effects of alignment and misalignment between System 1 (fast instinctive) and System 2 (slower deliberative) thinking. Building on this work, James Clear describes in Atomic Habits (Clear, 2018) a framework for understanding aligning these processes with best practise by starting with small actionable changes. In this he describes 4 Laws of atomic habit forming – making the change obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. This is not the only framework for approaching this change, with other prominent frameworks including COM-B (capability, opportunity and motivation) or EAST (Easy, Attractive, Social, Timely) and nudges.

    What's the book?

    Mr Fletcher-Wood in his book has taken inspiration from the research behind these behaviour management strategies listed above and many others, and applied them directly to the field of education, developing a clear framework for behavioural interventions by teachers to aid their students in developing good habits for achieving their learning goals and outcomes. Briefly summarised his suggested framework is:

    S IM Pl I Fy :

    • Specify a single powerful habit to pursue
    • Inspire and Motivate to act on the behaviour leading towards this specific habit
    • Plan a commitment to a specific time and place to act
    • Initiate action – this is primarily where the overlap between ideas within Atomic Habits overlap in trying to start tangibly and easily
    • Feedback into action / Follow Up – establish and implement ways to monitor the progress of the habit formation

    For a far more in-depth discussion, I’d highly recommend listening to Mr Fletcher-Woods describing his book in the wide-ranging interview with Ollie Lovell on the ERRR podcast . Here he was able to illustrate the ‘brutal singlemindedness’ of Specifying the greatest priority with the idea of the ‘Marginal Minute’ - what are you going to spend any extra free time on with one free minute in the classroom? Inspiration and Motivation could come in many forms, including how a visit by Michelle Obama inspired students to perform better academically . Planning was illustrated by changing an instruction such as “write your homework down in your diary” to “write your homework down in your diary and include when and how you’re going to do it at the same time”. Initiate action was framed in terms of teaching practises such as gradual release of control of explicit instruction, easing students into harder steps by revisiting past successes and building confidence as a collective before attempting the habit as an individual. Follow Up had useful examples such as getting students to reflect in the last 2 minutes of a class on a question such as “what’s something you understand now that you didn’t before?”

    Excitingly, Barker Staff have had the opportunity to learn directly from Mr Fletcher-Wood as part of the school’s teacher professional development in Term 3, 2022. The Professional Development team at Barker in partnership with the Barker Institute interviewed Harry regarding applying these insights to our specific Barker context.


    Reference List:

    ‘Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones’. James Clear, https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    Burgess, S, n.d., ‘Michelle Obama and an English school: the power of inspiration’, viewed 7 June 2022, https://simonburgesseconomics.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/EGA-paper-20160627.pdf.

    Clarifying the ‘5 Whys’ Problem-Solving Method. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrlYkx41wEE. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    ‘Designing Professional Development for Teacher Change’. Ambition Institute, https://www.ambition.org.uk/research-and-insight/designing-professional-development-for-teacher-change/. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    EAST: Four Simple Ways to Apply Behavioural Insights. https://www.bi.team/publications/east-four-simple-ways-to-apply-behavioural-insights/. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    Fletcher-Wood, Harry. Habits of Success: Getting Every Student Learning. 1st edition, Routledge, 2021.

    ‘Getting Students Learning 6 – Habits: The Key to Success’. Improving Teaching, 4 Sept. 2021, https://improvingteaching.co.uk/2021/09/04/getting-students-learning-habits-the-key-to-success/.

    Kahneman, Daniel. ‘Of 2 Minds: How Fast and Slow Thinking Shape Perception and Choice [Excerpt]’. Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/kahneman-excerpt-thinking-fast-and-slow/. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    Kahneman, D, 2012, Thinking, fast and slow, Penguin Books, London.

    ‘Leadership Principles’. About Amazon Australia, https://www.aboutamazon.com.au/about-us/leadership-principles. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    Lovell, Ollie. ‘ERRR #057. Harry Fletcher-Wood on Habits of Success’. Ollie Lovell, 1 Sept. 2021, https://www.ollielovell.com/errr/harryfletcherwood/.

    Michie, Susan, et al. ‘The Behaviour Change Wheel: A New Method for Characterising and Designing Behaviour Change Interventions’. Implementation Science : IS, vol. 6, Apr. 2011, p. 42. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-6-42.

    The Science of Behaviour Change. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=154OttZtQ8w. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    What Is Nudging?www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLBgjd8bbQw. Accessed 10 June 2022.

    Habits of Success

    Habits of Success: How do we help ourselves and others to form sustainable good habits?

    • 21 November 2022
  • Before students returned for the term, Lisa Maltman was a keynote presenter at the 2022 Barker Staff conference.  Student groups have participated in workshops and discussions around the importance of sleep and implementation of healthy sleep habits. On Monday August 8 the invite was extended to the whole Barker community to learn about sleep for better health, resilience, and performance at our Barker Institute public event.

    Over 100 parents, attended the event and were encouraged to reflect on their own sleep as well as that of their children in school. The mood was positive, that improvement could be made in sleep habits. This was thanks to the expert, personal, and relevant advice from Lisa Maltman. You can find out more about Lisa through her company’s website: https://thesleepconnection.com.au/

    Thank you to the Health and Wellbeing team in the School, our guest speaker, and all who attended as together we are striving to support our Barker community to be excellent in every possible way.

    Sleep Studies with special guest Lisa Maltman

    Improvement can be made in sleep habits so that our teenagers and ourselves might obtain better health, resilience, and performance outcomes.

    • 21 November 2022

  • I wish to highlight two insights from the implications section of the paper.

    1. Principal as role model: “The principal models what it means to be a successful adult in the third decade of the 21st century.” As with all leaders, teachers, and even senior students at Barker, the Principal demonstrates character, values and attributes to be followed.
    2. Alignment of values: In a section on implications for aspiring leaders the authors write “aspiring leaders need to align themselves with the morals and values of the organisations they wish to lead to the extent that they can consistently model the associated behaviors and inspire others to adopt them as well.” This is not a superficial façade that a school leader takes on, rather “The match between leader and school needs to be authentic”.

    We at Barker are grateful for so many good role models in the school who authentically demonstrate their values aligned with, what the authors describe as, the “beliefs cherished by the organisation”.  We are grateful for our Head of School modelling his values, and other faithful school Principals and Heads throughout Australia supporting teachers through these times of change, and developing young people of the future.

    The FULL PAPER is available online (open access).

    Principal leadership in a time of change

    What do schools look for in a Principal?

    • 21 November 2022
  • While only four years into the ten-year project, 2022 marks the end of the Junior School component of the Barker Journey study.

    While only four years into the ten-year project, 2022 marks the end of the Junior School component of the Barker Journey study.

    Looking back on 2022

    While only four years into the ten-year project, 2022 marks the end of the Junior School component of the Barker Journey study.

    • Dr Timothy Scott
    • 15 November 2022
  • On two consecutive Mondays in Term 4, the Barker classroom opened to other schools and the general public. The Barker Institute wishes to particularly thank students who travelled long distances to join the lectures and the teachers who provided transport. It was an excellent series for community learning - wrestling with epistemology; 'how we know what we know'.

    We invite you to view resources from the presentations via the links below.


    Please see Lecture 1 PowerPoint HERE.

    Lecture 1: Storytelling in Science Extension: Learning and teaching Science Extension through great stories in the history of science

    17 October 2022 – Dr Alison Gates

    A narrative account of some marvelous scientific discoveries, this lecture explores the history of science through the lens of scientific narratives. For new senior students, we hope to inspire you, to peak your curiosity and to whet your palate for what lies ahead in Science Extension.


    Please see Lecture 2 PowerPoint HERE. 

    Lecture 2: Philosophy of Science: Epistemology, Empiricism and Experimentation

    24 October 2022 - Dr Matthew Hill

    What does it mean to know something scientifically? Do all scientists follow the same scientific method? Come along to our second lecture to learn how Philosophers talk about the field of science. Relevant syllabus terms from Module 1 of the course such as epistemology, empiricism, induction, deduction, falsification and parsimony will be demystified, explained and contextualised.

    Science Extension Public Lectures 2022

    • 01 November 2022
  • Understanding the impact of mobility on students moving from one country to another prompted a question about what it would take for mobile or transient students to thrive once they reached Barker, and, conversely, what should a school like Barker be doing to ensure that such students are well served. I recommended several books but at the top of my list were the following two key texts: Douglas Ota’s Safe Passage and David Pollock, Ruth van Reken, and Michael Pollock’s Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. There are, of course, many others that readers may think are more worthy than these two; at least, let me share what make these texts important.

    OTA, Douglas W. (2014)Safe Passage: how mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it. Great Britain: Summertime Publishing.

    This book is a “must-have” for any educator wishing to increase their understanding of how mobility and transition impact students or structure education design around a transitory student population. Written by an experienced international school counsellor, it is a carefully structured and well-researched, outlining a framework required to build and maintain a programme to help “expat children” during transition periods – whether they are movers or stayers. And this is its value. It focuses on how schools can support students during the transitional phases of joining and leaving a school environment. The book is divided into three sections: (1) the challenges of moving across cultures (2) a possible blueprint for building a mobility transition program for use within schools; and (3) how to maintain such a program over the long term.

    POLLOCK, David C., VAN REKEN, Ruth E., and POLLOCK, Michael V. (2017)Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. 3rdedition. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

    This is a fundamental text and has remained the authoritative text on Third Culture Kids (TCKs) for nearly two decades. Now in its third edition, Third Culture Kids is a standard reading for anyone involved in international or intercultural education. The authors explore the experiences of TCKs and the book gives real-life anecdotes to help examine the nature of the TCK experience, and its effects on maturing and developing a sense of identity. It has a comprehensive, yet accessible, approach to understanding and working with children who have spent their formative years growing up outside of what might be referred to as their ‘passport country’. If educational leaders are looking to design an educational model that supports TCKs, and helps them thrive, then this text must be on their bookshelf as they will find it instrumental in making sure any design is in a position to accommodate their unique educational needs and considerations.

    While these two texts may appear to be more relevant to an international school, the issues they explore are relevant to any school, particularly schools with a global focus in the 21st century. Indeed, this is what makes these texts so valuable: they are relevant as a whole or in part to school leader and teacher alike.

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    When you see your educational research put to good use

    Understanding transition period in student cultural development

    • 20 October 2022
  • Dr Tucker summarised years of research (and decades of experience) presenting his PhD findings on Educating for Humanity & The Holistic Principle.

    The evening began with Dr Tucker asking the audience three questions: What is the child? What is this world under pressure? And what is the fundamental aim of education?

    He then presented a systematic review of international, national, and school statements of the purpose and intent of their education demonstrating how all policy statements are attempting to capture the whole-person, transforming young people into fully formed human beings. The challenge was put that very few of these sufficiently describe the comprehensiveness of such a holistic, integrated education.

    A brief featured images of Barker students’ major works in Art and Design and Technology, accompanied by music recorded by Barker students.

    The second part of the talk proposed a framework for educating humanity featuring holistic learning (integrating the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, aesthetic, ethical and spiritual) and holistic education (involving the whole child, whole educator, whole teaching, whole school community, holistic curriculum and even the whole cosmos).

    The PowerPoint presentation from the evening can be accessed HERE.

    Educating for Humanity & The Holistic Principle – Dr Neil Tucker

    Holistic learning & Holistic education

    • 08 September 2022
  • The session’s talking points included:

    1. Understanding habit development
    2. Location, location, location
    3. Scheduling for success
    4. The why and how of using a diary
    5. Types of study
    6. Maximising memory
    7. Momentum: Show up and start

    Resources for Barker families include:

    1. Selected Slides from the presentation
    2. Barker College Year 7 Formal Assessment Manual
    3. Soft Copy Homework Planner (for download)
    4. Barker Institute Journal Article – Understanding our Successful Learners
    5. Barker Institute Journal Article –2017 HSC Results: How to pass on their success to their successors
    6. Information and links regarding FamilyZone at Barker which allows parents to support their children’s device use through boundaries and automated restrictions.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Year 7 Study Habits

    An interactive workshop to help Year 7 students and their parents develop good study habits

    • 10 May 2022
  • Last April, Dr Horvath spent the day at Barker working with staff and students.  In A tour of the teenage brain, the focus of our 2021 event, he drew on his research in neuroscience to offer explanations for the brilliant, but sometimes peculiar, actions of teenagers as a product of their brain activity.

    In 2022 Dr Horvath again spent a day with staff as part of the School’s Professional Learning program, renewing and building on last year’s training, before presenting to our Community Forum on the eve of Term 2.

    Four themes consistent with his talk of 2021 included:

    1. The brain is constantly changing, (especially in young people) which allows learning to take place rapidly. However, it can often be tricky to replace old or undesirable neural connections with new, desirable ones. (For further reading see “The Brain that Changes Itself”, Norman Doidge)
    2. The brain cannot multitask, it can only pay attention to one thing at a time. What is often termed ‘multitasking’ is really ‘task-switching’ and ineffective for learning, study, or work. Therefore, using technology around and while learning needs careful consideration due to the way it inhibits single-focus attentiveness (For further reading see Chapter 7 of “10 Things schools get wrong”)
    3. Teachers and parents are the experts when it comes to teaching and parenting. There are ideas from neuroscience that are very helpful, but it is important for the teachers and parents to draw on and apply their own expertise. (For further reading see Chapter 1 of “10 Things schools get wrong”)
    4. The last two COVID-19 impacted years have been stressful. By prolonging stress on the brain, it reduces its capacity to form memories, so it’s not surprising that most people can struggle to remember specifics from 2020 or 2021.

    It was also an exciting community moment when our newDeputy Head: Academic Care, Dr Julie Wilson Reynolds met many parents of Barker students and was already answering questions about our academic program and how Barker aims to continue to put research such as from Dr Horvath into practice.


    Reference List:

    Doidge, N. 2016, The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable

    Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity. Updated and Expanded edition, Penguin Books.

    Horvath, J.C. & Bott, D. 2020, 10 Things Schools Get Wrong: And How We Can Get Them Right. John Catt Educational Ltd.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    A tour through the changing teen brain

    A tour through the changing teen brain - Dr Jared Cooney Horvath

    • 26 April 2022
  • Dr Hunter asked parents what barriers their children encountered with writing. Responses such as “low confidence in writing”, “where to begin” and “how to structure a narrative” were recalled. To demonstrate the techniques from the workshops he had held with their children, Ian asked participants to write about any topic for five minutes. Heads down, parents were writing!

    Parents read their piece to another person and discussed. Ian then gave a concise and informative list of 5 types of sentences that increase writing fluency. Parents rewrote their piece, this time using the explained sentence types; the simple, the very short, the W-start, the adverb at the front, and the Em-dash sentence. Parents’ writing was transformed.

    Sharing the before and after exemplars of student writing from Barker this week, Dr Hunter showed parents how just these few sentence rules improved writing. Through practice with the Writers’ Toolbox, Barker students can improve writing to create interesting and impactful work. This software is available to all year 7 and 8 students and uses A.I. to analyse writing and give instant feedback.  

    Parent comments include “It was an entertaining forum. Importantly, very helpful tips were communicated and will benefit the students as much as their parents.”

    If you would like more details about Writer’s Toolbox, head to https://www.wtbox.com/about

    Barker Institute wishes to thank Greg Longney, Director of Teaching and Learning at Barker who invited Dr Hunter to present to students as part of Rhetoric Week.

    Susan Layton

    Susan Layton is a Research Administration Assistant with the Barker Institute. After completing a double degree in Arts and Business from Deakin University, she studied Mandarin in Taiwan under a graduate scholarship awarded by the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee. She has worked for Government and private business in Asia, the UK and Australia. Susan is excited about the opportunity to approach current and future issues facing education from a research perspective.

    Improving Student Writing

    During Barker’s Inaugural Rhetoric Week, parents gathered to learn how to support their children’s writing with Dr Ian Hunter, Founder of The Writer’s Toolbox.

    • 25 March 2022
  • In his article ‘Have you fallen for the myth of ‘I can’t draw’? Do it anyway – and reap the rewards’, Lecturer in Animation at Swinburne University of Technology Darren Fisher describes how this ‘I can’t do it’ feeling is common amongst his students. He also extols the many health benefits of drawing, as when practiced on a regular basis it can improve mood and promote general creativity.

    Fisher promotes the drawing style ‘Automatic Drawing’ developed by the Surrealists, as one way to get started. In this style, the student draws with no clear end goal. The hand can go anywhere on the page to create drawings without conscious control. Another method in learning to draw is deliberate practice. Fisher claims that letting go also of the biases against learning by copying is an essential stepping stone in learning to draw. Copying to learn is often frowned upon in some schools of thought, however Fisher’s article goes on to describe how young students in Japan of Manga style art are encouraged to do just this. These children build their skill through exposure and practice.

    Anytime someone is learning a new skill, be it a swim stroke or a new language, it can be a struggle, but this is not a bad thing. Productive struggle (Livy et al., 2018) is where students engage in effortful practice to build their skills and move them beyond passive learning. Barker students are encouraged to work through productive struggle where a new skill is confusing and uncomfortable to them. Learning activities are differentiated such that students are appropriately challenged to develop their skills.

    When speaking to Barker Middle School students, teaching staff and to the School Community at a Barker Institute Forum in 2021, Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, Educational Neuroscientist, claimed that we have the option to decide whether to try and learn. When you encounter confusion, the choice to flip on a switch in the prefrontal cortex, (the controller and coding area of the brain), to work through what he coined the ‘crunch sensation’, is the best choice anyone can make when learning something new. The more this happens, the more the decoder will predict patterns in situations to make sense of something; in other words, learn.

    Why not cultivate a new skill, such as drawing and use your ‘crunch sensation’ for the better, to learn.


    References:

    The Conversation, Fisher D, 2021 Have you fallen for the myth of ‘I can’t draw’? Do it anyway – and reap the rewards, weblog post, viewed 5 February 2022 https://theconversation.com/have-you-fallen-for-the-myth-of-i-cant-draw-do-it-anyway-and-reap-the-rewards-172623

    Livy et al., 2018, Challenging tasks lead to productive struggle. https://search.informit.org/doi/epdf/10.3316/informit.484804037202568

    TEDxYouth@ReddamHouse.,2018, Your Brain, Your Life, Jared Cooney Horvath,  viewed 5 February 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NilvW_ACG9M

    Susan Layton

    Susan Layton is a Research Administration Assistant with the Barker Institute. After completing a double degree in Arts and Business from Deakin University, she studied Mandarin in Taiwan under a graduate scholarship awarded by the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee. She has worked for Government and private business in Asia, the UK and Australia. Susan is excited about the opportunity to approach current and future issues facing education from a research perspective.

    Can you draw?

    Do you consider yourself good at drawing? According to recent research, it is often self-imposed limitations that prevent practice and success!

    • 11 March 2022
  • The value of The Geography of Thought is in the fact that it makes very clear how completely diametric the worldviews of the East and West are. The West's perspective is described as Aristotelian and the East's is described as Confucian, a reference to the philosophers who have had the most impact on those broad geographical regions of the world. Nisbett's starting point is explained on the very first page where he states:

    A few years back, a brilliant student from China began to work with me on questions of social psychology and reasoning. One day early in our acquaintance, he said, "You know, the difference between you and me is that I think the world is a circle, and you think its a line". Unfazed by what must have been a startled expression on my face, he expounded on that theme. "The Chinese believe in constant change, but with things always moving back to some prior state. They pay attention to a wider range of events; they search for relationships between things; and they think you can't understand the part without understanding the whole. Westerners live in a simpler, more deterministic world; they focus on salient objects or people instead of the larger picture; and they think they can control events because they know the rules that govern the behavior of objects"
    (Nisbett 2004: xiii)

    The contrast described above, and other differences between the two perspectives, is central to Nisbett's discussion. In Chapter 1, the philosophy, science and societies of Ancient Greece and China are covered, providing a historical foundation for Nisbett's argument. The following chapter focuses on the implications of these foundations to Western and Eastern world perspectives. Chapter 3 contends with the notion of "the self" and how West and East construct the individual and community. Starting with six generalisations that are considered to be the Western conceptualisation of "the self", Nisbett explores how the Eastern view differs. The notion of one's social existence and what that means for how people literally see the world is covered in the following chapter. How the idea of cause and effect, language and logic have impacted Western and Eastern perspectives and interpretations form the basis of chapters 5, 6 and 7 respectively. Chapter 8 answers the "so what?" question: how and why do the number of differences between Westerners and Easterners found in almost every study undertaken by Nisbett actually matter?

    Ultimately, Nisbett's own perspective on the matter, presented in the Epilogue, is "situational". Describing Nisbett's perspective as "situational" is to say that Nisbett attempts to present a middle ground.

    ...We all function in some respects more like Easterners some of the time and more like Westerners some of the time. A shift in characteristic social practices could therefore be expected to produce a shift in typical patterns of perception and thought.
    (Nisbett 2004: 229)

    Aspiring to a more "situational" perspective gives Nisbett a starting point to conclude with his hopes for both the socio-intellectual frameworks that he has spent the better part of 230 pages describing. Nisbett hopes that the best of both cultures will prevail as each moves towards the other and, in the process, have a transformative relationship. Western and Eastern social and cognitive aspects can contribute to a blended mode of thinking that will have a positive impact on the world at large.

    This is why this text is so important to education, national or international. As the world becomes increasingly interlinked, it is crucial that teachers can show students how to navigate the newer, 'smaller' environment and to do so responsibly, ethically and positively. Rather than a challenge to be overcome, integration of social and cognitive contributions from East and West can bear fruit in meaningful learning and thinking both in and beyond the any curriculum. This text is an excellent starting point for teachers to build up their capacity to grow intercultural competencies within their students and to have an impact on the world beyond their school's front gates.


    References

    R Nisbett 2004 The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why. Free Press: New York, London, Toronto, Sydney,

    Dr Timothy Scott

    Tim has held various leadership roles in schools in Australia and abroad for the past 24 years, alongside teaching history and modern languages. He is currently a principal researcher at the Barker Institute, the school-based educational research centre at Barker College, a Pre-K to Year 12 coeducational, boarding school in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include intercultural and interlingual learning and teaching, refugee education, and the role of student voice in improving educational practice. Tim believes embedding research informed practice has become increasingly important and is the mark of contemporary schools, empowering their teachers as experts and enabling their learners to thrive. He is one of the lead researchers for the Barker Institute’s ongoing, decade-long longitudinal study, the Barker Journey. Concurrently with his educational research responsibilities, Tim teaches History and Global Studies at Barker. Tim’s PhD investigated socio-political influences on contemporary German conceptions of history and archaeology.

    The Geography of Thought - Book review

    Understanding the evolution of philosophies through the worldviews of geographical regions

    • 27 February 2022
  • Young people, especially those at schools like Barker, can be trained to see that any difficulty can be overcome through effort, practice and willpower. While these attributes are certainly necessary for developing resilience and for learning; there are constraints of physical limits like the need for sleep and rest that cannot be ignored, even sickness and disability that cannot always be overcome. Judd calls us to consider how these curtailers of choice or obstructors of control, are actually inherent to our humanity (Williams, 2018) and therefore understanding the limits, and “going with the grain” of these limits leads to deeper and richer human flourishing and thriving (McPherson, 2022).

    While my physical disability has brought me a lot of grief and pain it has also taught me a lot about living in, and paying attentive and respectful attention to, a body that is fundamentally limited.

    Judd proposes a juxtaposition of philosophical attitudes, expressive individualism and embedded relationality. The former requires seeking choice and control over life circumstances and the latter is where the autonomous self is not at the centre. From the position of embedded relationality, life is not about ensuring unencumbered choice but rather life is to be accepted and appreciated as a gift. To her, recognising that her identity (both mind and body) is a gift given rather than self-made means that “Who I am is not defined by what I can do or achieve, it’s anchored in who I’m loved by” (including both love from other humans, but also divine love “which is constant and abundant and eternal and secure”).

    We don’t dictate the terms of our life by fiat; we respond to what we’ve been given.

    Last September, as part of Barker’s celebration of R U OK? Day, the Barker Institute hosted an interview with academic, educator, and author Dr Kerry Howells (Hill, 2021). She spoke about her new book Untangling You; How can I be grateful when I feel so resentful? Her research findings from 25 years of experience and study presented a view consistent with Judd’s, arguing that an “attitude of gratitude” is necessary for thriving in our interconnected, uncontrollable, relational world.

    Judd concluded her lecture by reflecting on the consequences of our embeddedness in relationships with each other. She explains that our boundaries and limits are positive opportunities for interdependence, meaning flourishing is not reached by expressive individualism, rather “wholeness can only come to us through others”. The communities available to young people in schools present opportunities for vulnerability and interdependence, for character development and gratitude. It is a blessing that we can be back together for the start of the 2022 year because as Judd reminds us “you cannot cultivate character in isolation”.

    The full lecture can be accessed on YouTube, contact the Barker Institute for details.


    References:

    Hill, M., 2021. Untangling You & Gratitude - Dr Kerry Howells. Bark. Inst. URL https://www.barkerinstitute.com.au/our-news-resources/2021/untangling-you-gratitude-dr-kerry-howells (accessed 2.14.22).

    Judd, S.K., 2022. The Dignity of Our Limits.

    McPherson, D., 2022. The Virtues of Limits. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Williams, R., 2018. Being Human: Bodies, Minds, Persons. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    The Dignity of our Limits - Public Lecture

    The Dignity of our Limits – reflections from attending a public lecture by Stephanie Kate Judd (Barker class of 2007) on her research as an Anglican Deaconess Fellow in 2021.

    • 21 February 2022
  • Please see Lecture 1PowerPoint HERE.

    Lecture 1: Storytelling in Science Extension: Learning and teaching Science Extension through great stories in the history of science

    13 October 2021 - Dr. Alison Gates

    A narrative account of some marvelous scientific discoveries, this lecture explores the history of science through the lens of scientific narratives. For new senior students, we hope to inspire you, to peak your curiosity and to whet your palate for what lies ahead in Science Extension.


    Please see Lecture 2PowerPoint HERE. 

    Lecture 2: Philosophy of Science: Epistemology, Empiricism and Experimentation

    20 October 2021 - Dr. Matthew Hill 

    What does it mean to know something scientifically? Do all scientists follow the same scientific method? Come along to our second lecture to learn about how Philosophers talk about the field of science. Relevant syllabus terms from Module 1 of the course such as epistemology, empiricism, induction, deduction, falsification and parsimony will be demystified, explained and contextualised. 


    Please see Lecture 3Powerpoint HERE.

    Workshop & Panel: Beginning the Scientific Research Project

    27 October 2021 - Dr. Alison Gates, Dr. Matthew Hill & Dr. Terena Holdaway-Clarke

    How do you rise to the challenge of doing a novel research project, culminating in a genuine scientific report, while still at high school?  This workshop builds on Lectures 1 and 2 by exploring the design of a suitable research project touching on issues like choosing a research question, conducting a literature search, problematising the situation, building relationships with supervisors and experts, and managing expectations. 

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Barker College Science Extension – Annual Public Lectures

    • A Lecture Series in the History and Philosophy of Science 2021
    • 15 October 2021
  • The commentary shares valuable insight from these teachers who have been at the forefront of online learning implementation. It is however the insight about what is important in teaching and learning, that shines through.

    Sarah Clifton

    Sarah Clifton is the Director of Professional Learning at Barker College. She is responsible for the planning and implementation of a bespoke teacher development program. This embeds the Barker Quality Teaching and Learning Framework with a focus on teacher growth underpinned by the overarching student outcome of moving every learning forward. Sarah has many years of experience teaching the mandatory 7 – 10 PDHPE courses and developed a now thriving Stage 5 and Stage 6 elective program. Although holding a passion for all physical activity and having coached across a range of sports at Barker, basketball is her "number 1". Sarah has been the co-curricular coordinator of Girls’ basketball, continues to coach the 1st team along with undertaking selector and coach roles at ISA and CIS level. She is looking forward to the challenge of delivering a program of professional learning that supports teachers and students.

    Online Learning Reflections – A video podcast

    A guide through the Barker online learning journey from the perspectives of our digital learning leaders.

    • Sarah Clifton
    • 15 September 2021
  • A recording of this presentation is available to the Barker community https://bit.ly/RUOKDay-KerryHowells-BarkerInstitute.

    The book Untangling You; How can I be grateful when I feel so resentful?  can be ordered on Dr Howell’s website, https://kerryhowells.com/. Don’t forget to use the discount code for those in the Barker community available at the end of the video.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Untangling You & Gratitude - Dr Kerry Howells

    How to improve mental health with an "attitude of gratitude"

    • 09 September 2021
  • Following the presentation Dr Matthew Hill, Barker Institute Director, presented questions from the audience in discussion with the two special guests.

    Resources for parents and teachers:

    1. www.positivechoices.org.au
    2. Teen Substance Use – PowerPoint slides with speakers’ contact details

    Event recording for parent viewing
    (You need to be logged in with a Barker account to view this recording)

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Teen Substance Use: Prevention and Harm Reduction in the Formative Years

    Experts talked about the current statistics and key influences of teen substance abuse

    • 02 September 2021
  • The online world continues to grow and extend into all areas of our lives including that of our students. As they inevitably spend considerable time on the internet (not least during COVID-19 restrictions) it is important for parents and carers to be up to date with information on how to best support children online such that they may participate safely, learn distraction free, and learn effectively.

    Mr Paul Harman, Digital Learning Leader PreK-12, discussed the strategic use of technology for learning in the Junior School.

    Yasmin London from Barker’s partner organisation YSafe presented regarding online safety for children including describing the common Apps children are using and settings and features that parents may not be aware of.

    Finally, Jon Chivers from FamilyZone, an important technology solution for Barker student devices, shared how FamilyZone can be used by parents as a tool to monitor and support distraction free learning and play on their child’s devices.

    This event was scheduled as a face-to-face event on campus, but transitioned to a webinar. Special thanks to Mr Martin Lubrano, Head of Junior School who hosted and moderated the event.


    A video of the event is available HERE
    (you must be logged into Microsoft with a Barker account to access the recording)

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Cybersafe Learning Webinar - Junior School

    Information & strategies for managing kids in the online world

    • 02 August 2021
  • 1. A sense of normality

    In a world where a pandemic leaves many things out of our control, school can be a safe place and provide a sense of normal. Therefore, keeping things, within reason and where possible, familiar, gives reassurance to students and their families.

    2. Routine and Structure

    Humans are creatures of habit. Schools operate through timetables and routines. For students to succeed in an online environment, clear structures and daily routines need to be established and clearly communicated. This becomes even more important for students who struggle with organisation.

    3. Connection

    Relationships are key in student learning. The minute by minute interactions with teachers, peers and other staff is what makes a school, not just a place of learning, but a community. Regular live online interactions are essential in keeping people within schools connected and the impact of this on wellbeing cannot be underestimated.

    4. Learning online

    There is an undeniable time challenge in teaching online. Whether synchronous or asynchronous there is an added complexity in teaching knowledge, skills, and depth of understanding without the subtle feedback a teacher can receive from the verbal and non-verbal interactions in a face-to-face classroom setting. Checking for the understanding of each student in a whole class live forum, small groups in a breakout room or from learning activities such as written submissions or quizzes takes a lot longer. For teachers, designing tasks, providing effective communication, and giving feedback to online tasks provides, at times, an insurmountable workload. It is also commonplace yet well-intentioned, for teachers to overestimate the work that students can do in the time allocated. This puts substantial pressure on students. Therefore, workloads need to be managed by considering what is essential, adapting what is taught, how it is taught and what the students are to do. Quality over quantity, efficient and effective.

    5. Movement

    There is a balance required between the importance of continuing learning, keeping connections through online platforms and the need to move. Research from the Australian Government Department of Health, the Heart Foundation and other individual research papers have highlighted the risks of being sedentary. Sitting for too long increases risk of chronic health problems and has a negative correlation with Mental Health. Claims have been made that sitting is the new smoking due to the similar effects it has on the heart. Therefore, opportunity to move beyond the screen needs to be part of the daily routines established as well as included in learning activities wherever possible.


    Barker Online Learning Phase 1 – Structure for Online Learning 2021

    • The school timetable remains - The day and week is structured by the regular school timetable.
    • Live Meetings - Teachers begin each lesson with a live meeting in Microsoft Teams. They then teach / explain work via this mode for a maximum of 30 minutes of the 60 minute scheduled lesson.
    • Time to complete tasks -The remaining 30 minutes of the lesson is allocated for students to complete learning tasks.
    • Streamlined communication:
      • All work to be submitted is communicated through the homework section in Canvas to streamline a student work task list for all subjects that is in one place for students and parents to locate.
      • All class and individual communication with students take place in Microsoft teams.
    • Dress code: Students wear school or PE uniform and staff wear professional attire.
    • Extended lunch break: The 30 minute timeslot between 12:00pm – 12:30pm was allocated to allow for a 90 minute lunch break.

    Professional Learning Structures

    • Pre-online learning - The professional learning day on July 12th was designed to support the transition to online learning.
    • Initial and ongoing professional learning support - The existing Canvas Professional Learning course stores resources that support teachers in the delivery of online learning. This includes short instructional videos on the essential digital learning tools used to deliver online learning as well as written information / cheat sheets and links to further, more advanced resources.
    • Immediate daily support - An Online Learning Channel has been established in Microsoft Teams for all staff. Here, staff post questions which are answered within minutes by the digital learning team, the curriculum team or by other teachers. This has been enormously successfully in the support of online teaching, creating greater confidence in teachers as well as enabling leaders to adapt quickly or address any wider school issues.

    Possible considerations for an extended period of online learning

    • Compulsory blackout periods from technology.
    • A break from online learning to refresh eg: early finish or late start.
    • Whole school initiatives to connect more widely. Eg House Competitions, Barker Olympics.
    • Re-establishing the 30 minute time slot for more holistic year group connections.
    • Managing workload for students and staff. eg streamlining communication in blocks, reducing amount of work set.
    • More sharing of effective online learning strategies.

    Evaluation

    The routine of a timetable, live synchronous interactions with classes, the balance between 30 minutes of personal lesson delivery and 30 minutes to complete learning tasks, has in the first instance seemly achieved the principles in which the decisions were made. There has been a general feel of positivity surrounding this manner of online learning from students, staff, and parents. It for these reasons, the structures have been retained for Phase 2 of online learning, a period of 2 weeks until July 30thFriday. Whilst we are in the honeymoon period of online learning, we will be watching carefully and be ready to adapt quickly when and where needed.

    Sarah Clifton

    Sarah Clifton is the Director of Professional Learning at Barker College. She is responsible for the planning and implementation of a bespoke teacher development program. This embeds the Barker Quality Teaching and Learning Framework with a focus on teacher growth underpinned by the overarching student outcome of moving every learning forward. Sarah has many years of experience teaching the mandatory 7 – 10 PDHPE courses and developed a now thriving Stage 5 and Stage 6 elective program. Although holding a passion for all physical activity and having coached across a range of sports at Barker, basketball is her "number 1". Sarah has been the co-curricular coordinator of Girls’ basketball, continues to coach the 1st team along with undertaking selector and coach roles at ISA and CIS level. She is looking forward to the challenge of delivering a program of professional learning that supports teachers and students.

    Barker Online Learning - The interconnection of learning and wellbeing

    What informs Barker's strategies surrounding online learning?

    • 20 July 2021
  • Barker Global hosted Wayne Cornish, Operations Manager of Muru Mittgar to speak to Firestick Farming and how this sustainable land conservation method can be incorporated into land management. Some of these practices have been recently being reintroduced to areas in the Blue Mountains. Wayne explained that when firestick burning is conducted, the land is burned in an outwards direction from a central location so that the animals that inhabitant the land can escape. Of course only when conditions are suitable for these burns are they carried out. Wayne hopes to share this knowledge with all connected with his family and country.

    Wayne fielded questions from the audience ranging from Indigenous connection to the land and if native fauna and flora can be reintroduced from low stress firestick farming

    The message was that if all inhabitants of Australia have some connection to the environment and look and learn from it, that many places will heal, animals and fauna will regenerate and species that we did not know were native to an area will return.

    Wayne Cornish is the operations Manager at Muru Mittigar, which is a Drahug organisation dedicated to making a significant, measurable and lasting difference in advancing the Dharug and Aboriginal culture. 

    Barker College wish to thank Wayne Cornish for his time and for sharing his knowledge with our community.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Heal Country: A First Nations Perspective

    An evening to embrace First Nation's cultural knowledge around a campfire

    • 17 June 2021
  • Neil Tucker (former Head of Barker College) discussed his personal educational philosophy, his research journey, and well supported opinions on holistic education drawing from literature, government policy, and school language.

    Tim Scott (History teacher and researcher) presented on his 2020 Barker Institute Journal Article My Two Blankets: Considering the importance of using home languages in today’s classroom in support of student learning and wellbeing in preparation for the upcoming National Boys Education Conference.

    Matt Hill (Science teacher and Director of the Barker Institute) delivered his talk for the same upcoming conference on Does the scientific method ever fail? A lesson in failure through supervising projects with null results.

    Participants enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on three very different areas of education however it was clear that there were links between ideas in all three. Just as a research group functioning in a university context, it was an excellent opportunity for the two Barker staff to get feedback prior to their upcoming inter-school conference.

    After a Journal club in Term 3 (16th of August), there will be another Research Forum in Term 4, Week 6 where three more presentations will be shared.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Research for Learning Community – Research Forum

    A brief introduction to the Barker Research for Learning Community

    • 01 June 2021
  • The session, hosted by James Denton (Head of Middle School) and Jon Rheinberger (Dean of Year 7), covered six talking points, each of which included time for parents and students to discuss how the information impacted them along with their decisions, planning and actions. The purpose was to bring parents and students together, that they may be on the same page and pursue study success as a team, using the best available information as a guide.

    Talking points included:

    • Location, location, location
    • Scheduling for success (a blank Homework Planner Dr Hill used can be download below)
    • The why and how of using a diary (with particular discussion of POP time at the end of each school day)
    • Different types of study
    • Maximising memory (and how learning continues in your sleep!)
    • Momentum: Show up and start!

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Year 7 Study Habits Webinar

    • The 2021 workshop for Parents and Students to manage study habits from Year 7
    • 29 April 2021
  • As part of the staff professional learning day, Dr Horvath (Educational Researcher, prominent author and speaker) presented sessions on The Foundations of Learning and The Learning Trajectory to Barker’s entire teaching staff. Staff were inspired, encouraged and challenged to meet the needs of every student, and to prepare them with the one essential skill that will never become redundant – the ability to learn.

    Over 400 students attended a second session with Dr Horvath (despite still being on school holiday) which supported them to understand how their brain was changing, growing and responding to learning opportunities at school and at home studying. There was a particular emphasis on the need for focussed attention to learning, along with the clear warning about the myth of multitasking. Students were encouraged to do short, focussed, sessions of learning and were reminded short bursts of regular practice is far more effective than cramming for an exam.

    In the evening, the Barker Institute was delighted to host the first in-person event since COVID-19 restrictions began in 2020. It was a delight to welcome over 200 parents to the Leslie Hall to listen to Dr  Cooney Horvath give a Tour of The Teenage Brain. A main message was that all brains are plastic (changing) and this is certainly true of the teenage brain. Teenagers are constantly learning, and sometimes that results in conflict and challenges at home. Rather than focusing on specific tips, Dr Horvath emphasised that parents know their kids and their individual needs best, but that understanding what was going on in their brain might help as they support them through these transitional years. He emphasised the importance of sleep, a caring and supportive home environment with increasing levels of choices as teens matured, and the need for autonomy post school for the transition from a teenage brain to an adult brain to take place.  Similar points are made in the ARTICLE  “Are Teenagers Crazy”.  Three selected videos from Jared are included below.

    Selected Videos of Jared Cooney Horvath

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    A tour through the teenage brain - Dr Jared Cooney Horvath

    • Expert advise on the neuroscience of brain development
    • 22 April 2021

  • Recording available with this link:   http://bit.ly/ProgressiveReportingRecording2021

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Progressive Reporting - Years 7-9 Parent Webinar

    An introduction to Barker's Progressive Reporting strategy

    • 05 March 2021
  • In consultation with the Barker Institute and Therapy Dogs Australia, Junior School staff will continue to research the impact of Peachy on campus. We look forward to sharing these results with you at a future event.  


    Please find a recording of this webinar from Wednesday 30 November here:http://bit.ly/IntroducingPeachy.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Introducing Peachy - The Barker Junior School Therapy Dog

    A webinar to better understand the role of Peachy: The Junior School Therapy Dog

    • 10 December 2020
  • The Barker institute would like to thank Dr Alison Gates for her generous contribution to an appreciative audience from Barker and beyond.


    Click for notes from Lecture One - 'Great Moments in Science'  - HERE

    Public Lecture 1 - Great moments in Science 2020 - Dr A Gates - Download Pdf HERE


    Click for notes from Lecture Two - 'Philosophy of Science: Epistemology and scientific reasoning'  - HERE

    Public Lecture 2 - Philosophy of Science 2020 - Dr M Hill - Download Pdf HERE


    If you are a Science Extension teacher and have written a trial paper, we would love to exchange the paper we wrote for yours. If you would like to swap, please send the trial paper you have written to Matthew Hill (mhill@barker.nsw.edu.au).

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Year 12 Science Extension Public Lectures One & Two

    An annual lecture to look at the History and Philosophy of Science

    • Dr Matthew Hill
    • 16 October 2020
  • Barker students and staff are not only teachers and learners, but creators who produce research thinking and writing, often supported through The Barker Institute. A recent opportunity to develop Barker's contribution to the academic community has been in connection with the new Science Extension course, a 1-unit course offered to Year 12 students studying any other science subject.

    Science Extension: Students as researchers

    First taught in 2019, Science Extension combines coursework (covering research methodology, inferential statistics, and the history and philosophy of science) with an individual research project. The latter is designed to be a genuine contribution to scientific knowledge, something that is typically reserved for honours or post-graduate students having already completed years of university. Barker students are producing outstanding research across various fields of science including projects such as synthesis of anti­malarial drugs, the potential of various plants to filter water, and computer modelling and 3D printing of propellers of various efficiencies.

    We have been developing laboratory spaces and resources to facilitate student projects, enhancing our capacity to offer projects in organic chemistry and microbiology. This has facilitated a collaboration with Associate Professor Alice Motion from the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney who leads the Breaking Good Project, a citizen science project which involves high school students in real chemistry research projects exploring the world's most important medicines. As part of this project, Kai Wong (20) has successfully synthesized a novel analogue of the anti­malarial drug, Daraprim which is being tested for its effectiveness as an anti-malarial agent.

    Presenting student research at an international conference

    Arabella Crowley (20) had a poster presentation accepted to the Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA) conference, held virtually in Wollongong in June. Arabella's research into emotions of students in the high-school Physics laboratory received positive feedback from various members of the science education academic community. We warmly commend Arabella for her outstanding achievement.


    Arabella's poster can be viewed at https://bit.ly/31XmbNo

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Scientific Research in Schools

    Celebrating student Scientific research

    • 21 September 2020
  • Head of School, Phillip Heath AM, received praise from counterparts during an EdSmart webinar which drew together school leaders to discuss how their approaches to educational leadership during a crisis.

    In this webinar five outstanding school heads/principals, featuring Mr Heath, shared honestly about the challenges of 2020. There were many common themes involving strategic decision making in the context of a deep care and concern for students, families, staff, and the wider community.


    You can watch a recording of the webinar on the EdSmart website, https://blog.edsmart.com/principals-webinar

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Where are the Big Thinkers in School Leadership Heading?

    A discussion of educational leadership during a crisis

    • 24 July 2020
  • The session, hosted by James Denton (Head of Middle School) and Kath Driver (Dean of Year 7), covered six talking points, each of which included time for parents and students to discuss how the information impacted them along with their decisions, planning and actions. The purpose was to bring parents and students together, that they may be on the same page and pursue study success as a team, using the best available information as a guide.

    Talking points included:

    • Location, location, location
    • Scheduling for success (a blank Homework Planner Dr Hill used is available for download below)
    • The why and how of using a diary
    • Different types of study
    • Maximising memory (and how learning continues in your sleep!)
    • Momentum: Show up and start!

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Barker Year 7 Study Skills webinar

    Parents and Students learning how best to study in Year 7

    • 17 June 2020
  • For this Ag After Dark evening he engaged an audience of students, parents and Agriculture teachers who had been having a network meeting and training day, sharing the realities of his journey including:

    • driving around Australia with thousands of visits to garden centres & hardware stores to develop a wide range of stockists.
    • a foray into reality TV with a successful pitch on Shark Tank
    • the process of product development leading to a patented design which balances the needs of shipping, cost, and the customer.
    • the decisions surrounding global expansion.

    Ultimately Simon trusts in the quality product of the Vegepod, meeting a genuine need of amateur gardeners. Vegepods are a weed-free, pest free, self-watering portable container gardening solution available in a range of sizes. For more information on the product visit the Vegepod website.

    The Barker Institute thanks the Agriculture department for putting on an event suitable for those with interests ranging from Agriculture to business and technology.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Ag After Dark – The business journey of Vegepod

    An event to hear about the business and science of Vegepods

    • 06 March 2020
  • Dick concluded the night with a plea for Australians to keep investigating the explanatory and predictive power of science and for that to result in Australians to “trust science”.

    Science at Barker is a popular subject and through events like this particular evening, and through classroom teaching we hope to demonstrate how a deeper understating of the science can lead to more informed decisions about a topical and difficult issue.

    Over 50 Year 12 students studying Earth and Environmental Science were in attendance from Barker and neighbouring schools, along with a number of Earth and Environmental teachers, as this talk closely aligned with the Year 12 syllabus. It was an excellent opportunity for students to experience a university-style lecture from a renowned expert where they could continue their learning outside the classroom alongside staff, parents and community members.


    For access to the PowerPoint from the evening please contact barkerinstitute@barker.nsw.edu.au

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    The Science of Climate

    The Science of Climate with expert meteorologist Richard Whitaker

    • 04 March 2020
  • Toni wrote her book in response to changes that she noticed in her daughter, that according to Toni, coincided with her increased use of mobile technology.

    The search for self and understanding of personal identity is a huge part of the adolescent experience. At a time of acute self-consciousness and introspection, when young people are developing their identity, the world has placed in their hands a device that encourages the need for public affirmation and scrutinizes the individual. This can ultimately engender a desperate need to be ‘liked’ and encourages the ‘cult of I’.

    Our conversation was wide and varied and touched on the health impacts of technology, including sleep issues, anxiety and social problems such as an inability to cope with real relationships and open communication. Despite all these difficulties that technology can bring young people, there are solutions for families and these were also discussed. Toni spoke of the need to re-engage with open and public space, play, conversation and nature. We also spoke of the incredible benefit of technology and how it has enhanced education, particularly in developing the ‘human’ dispositions that are needed for the future of work. These dispositions are creative and critical thinking, collaboration, connection, communication, problem solving and empathetic relationships. Skills that separate us from technology itself.

    Toni advised parents that little people (Junior School) really do not need to have smart handheld devices and I concur with this advice. Hold off as long as you can on giving a mobile device to your children, let them play and build their independence by not following their every move. The issue on banning devices at school was also raised. There is an endless history of evidence to suggest that prohibition does not work. We are working on ways to continue to help our young people to use technology responsibly and we are also putting in place protective measures at school as we partner with Family Zone in 2020. We urge you to consider how to encourage self-regulation of digital media use at home and have good family guidelines from an early age.

    Technology is an enabler, it is also a part of our children’s future, but it is not their future. We are working to illicit the best parts of innovation in digital technologies to help our young people to be responsible and caring adults who are committed to creating strong and connected communities and who better the lives of those around them.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Families in the Digital Age - Every Parent's Guide

    Toni Hassan discussed her new book "Families in the Digital Age: Every Parent's Guide"

    • 26 November 2019
  • “Having Damon come to Barker was a real treat. He told us new facts and explained how he made the movie. He has empowered me to do something rather than just talking about it.” Max (Year 8)

    The night was capped with a Q and A with the filmmaker, Damon Gameau (who also plays a starring role in the documentary). Damon’s passion for this 4 year documentary project was palpable and infectious. Answering a broad range of questions from the audience with candour and humour, Damon Gameau’s belief that small changes in behaviour can make a measurable difference was truly inspiring.

    “I really enjoyed the way 2040 had a positive mindset in working towards realistic methods of mitigating climate change. I have actually started using the Ecosia search engine which donates its profits to reforestation.” Oliver (Year 8)

    Cathie Glendenning

    Cathie arrived at Barker in 2001, returning to teaching after working in the Environmental Education field. Geography and the complex relationship between the built and physical environments are her passion. As Co-ordinator of Footprint (Barker’s Social Justice and Environmental group), Cathie endeavours to open students’ eyes and equip them with the skills, empathy, and empowerment to become agents of environmental and social change.

    Meet the Film Director & Screening of the film - '2040'

    The Director of the film '2040', Damon Gameau, talked with the Barker community after a screening.

    • 04 November 2019
  • The first lecture saw Dr Alison Gates speak on the history of Science in 'Five Great Moments in Science' to an appreciative audience. Dr Matthew Hill outlined the Philosophy of Science in lecture two, wrestling with how we use science to develop knowledge (epistemology) and the limitations of science; a highly engaged audience journeyed deep into the philosophical mysteries of science.

    Please find accompanying notes and Powerpoints from both lectures below.


    Click for notes from 'Five Great Moments in Science' - Lecture One HERE

    Click for PowerPoint from Lecture One HERE

    Click for notes from 'Philosophy of Science' - Lecture Two HERE

    Click for PowerPoint fromLecture Two HERE


    Copyright Information
    In the spirit of collaboration, you have permission to use or modify these documents for personal or use with your own Science/Science Extension classes at a school where you are hired as a teacher.  You do not need to acknowledge the source in any way.  If you would like to use this beyond your school as a presentation, or in the production of resources for the Science Extension course or otherwise, please contact the author.

    Dr Alison Gates

    Dr Alison Gates is incurably curious and loves learning and teaching. At Barker she is part of our Agriculture and Science Extension Teaching Teams. She studied Environmental Science at the University of Sydney and went on to complete a PhD about the deliberate introduction of plant and animals to Australia. Following a successful academic career in a number of Australian Universities,  Alison transitioned to secondary education and joined us at Barker in 2018.

    Yr 12 Science Extension Public Lectures One & Two

    Public lectures on the history and philosophy of Science

    • 29 October 2019
  • Co-author of the foundational and best-selling text, Blended: Using innovative disruption to improve schools, Heather carries a wealth of research, experience, and success stories from the emerging field of K-12 blended learning. As the founding president of Ready to Blend, Heather has travelled the world to present at conferences, workshops and media appearances. The Barker community was very luck to host Heather for her first trip to Australia. 

    Heather spent the day with 50 staff that are part of the blended learning ‘teacher learning community’. Additionally, we were pleased to welcome colleagues from local schools, as well as schools as far as Haileybury in Melbourne. Heather’s approach to these workshops is to immerse staff in different models of blended learning, from the popular flipped classroom approach, to the flex model that allows students to work through personalised content at their own pace, supported by a learning coach. In the afternoon, staff were invited to design their own blended learning lesson and present their ideas.

    In the evening, Heather was the guest speaker at the Barker Institute Focus on Learning series. Here, Heather started by presenting her four main reasonswhybehind blended learning there is an important approach for any educator to adopt:

    1. It allows the personalisation of learning. Online learning and digital resources have matured over the past few decades to the point where they are becoming powerful allies in the quest to deliver personalised and differentiated instruction to students.
    2. It allows competency-based learning. Our current model dictates that time is constant, and that learning is variable. This means that teachers and students are slaves to time, and move students forward even if they are not ready. Blended learning flips this around to make time variable, and learning constant. A mastery or competency-based system means that students move only when they understand content.
    3. It develops student agency and entrepreneurial skills. Blended learning supports students in the development of executive functioning skills including time-management, goal setting, and reflective practices. When personalised learning opportunities are offered, students are called upon to take more ownership of their own learning path.
    4. It provides a more supportive learning environment. Done well, blended learning increases teacher and student interaction during the face-to-face lessons. As there is more control of instruction, teachers use their time in class to meet with students individually and in small group settings. Teachers become mentors and coaches, providing students with a more personalised feedback system. Teachers are more attuned to the personal well-being of students under their care.

    The definition of blended learning used by Barker College is the definition that was devised by Heather Staker and her co-author, Michael B. Horn. In this definition, blended learning occurs when:

    1. Online learning is used in such a way to provide student and teacher control of the time, place, pace of learning
    2. Learning occurs in a face-to-face environment in a brick-and-mortar institution;
    3. The online and face-to-face element are deeply integrated into one learning experience.
    Heather stressed the importance of understanding the difference between blended learning and technology-rich instruction.

    Technology is the starting point of blended learning, but unless there is an adoption of the personalisation, competency and agency in learning, then a school can only be characterised as technology-rich. For example, using technology to aid a lecture presentation might provide an enhanced experience to student, however this activity does not fulfil the blended learning criteria. A teacher might load a task onto Canvas for students to complete, and although this might make the learning easier to administrate, these tasks are not blended learning either. However, when students view content at their own pace, then come to class to demonstrate their understanding, the task is transformed into a blended learning activity. When students are provided with tasks that are suited to their particular level of achievement, this again is considered blended learning.

    I was fortunate enough to demonstrate a real-world example of blended learning that I used in my own teaching. In this example, I took the results from a Year 11 examination and divided the paper into 8 different skills and concepts. I then collated information of how well each student performed in these areas and noted the students that did not perform well in certain areas. I then provided students with a reflection survey that allowed them the opportunity to also rate their ability in each of these areas. Using my own assessment and student self-reflection, I was able to assign students to certain tasks on Canvas. These tasks provided students with a video that worked through the answer from the examination, followed by a quiz provided another opportunity to show their ability in that particular area. Students were only able to move on once they had demonstrated this understanding. These activities were completed during class so that I had the opportunity to work with students one-on-one and really find out where a misunderstanding developed. This ability to target and refine individual student ability resulted in strong improvements in marks in following examinations.

    This is why blended learning should be seen as a concept that places the student at the centre of the learning experience, and not as a focus on using technology in schools.

    As Heather summed up, blended learning allows schools to provide world-class individual coaching for students, it makes learning fun, collaborative and engaging, and it allows students to experience progress every day. It is for these reasons this approach needs to be explored into the future.

    Dr Andrew Mifsud

    Andrew Mifsud, EdD is Head of Digital Learning and a Music teacher at Barker College. His doctoral research was an ethnographic study on student perceptions and experiences of secondary school blended learning environments. This research used cultural-historical activity theory to theorise an expansion of the learning activity based on the resolution of internal and external contradictions. Andrew has also been involved in research projects in the areas of social learning sites, digital learning, and music education and has presented this work at national and international education conferences.

    Andrew is the NSW Secretary of the Australian Society for Music Education and is a past recipient of the ASME Music Educating for Life Award and Outstanding Professional Service Award for his work promoting professional learning in the music education community. Andrew is a Teacher Coach in the College of Teachers and Barker. He enjoys working with teachers to discover the art and science of teaching.

    Ready to Blend with Heather Staker

    Learning from the guru of K-12 blended learning, Heather Staker

    • 30 August 2019
  • Anthony was full of interesting stories and facts about space technology including:

    • Satellites are just like mobile phones hurtling around space that are almost impossible to fix if something goes wrong.
    • It’s vital to take off the lens cap before launching a satellite-mounted camera into space, because you can’t do it later.
    • Australia is an ideal location for satellite communications, and even for satellite re-entry and recovery.
    • It’s often cheapest to just leave a satellite in space rather than bring it back to ground, contributing to the space junk problem.
    • You can contribute to the Space Industry regardless of the field of research or work you find yourself in.

    The night ended with a series of questions from people of all ages.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Anthony Wicht - Technology and Diplomacy

    Anthony Wicht shared how satellites are at the heart of new realms of technology and of international diplomacy

    • 05 June 2019
  • After welcoming the audience with a montage of big rugby hits likely to cause damage, he brought us back to the facts about concussion. Corey was able to cut through the media hype and describe the reality of concussion prevalence, concussion testing, and return-to-play management. He was also able to share how the introduction of the Barker College Concussion Clinic has been a highly effective means of managing player concussions, particularly beneficial in the prevention of secondary concussions.

    The highlight of the night was the 20 minutes of answers to questions where Corey was asked about all manner of issues on concussions, especially about our young people. He was able to explain that while it’s difficult to determine who is likely to be more susceptible to concussions or more severe concussions, care needs to be taken to ensure that all people are treating concussion similar to other injuries. This involves resting the brain and seeking medical support to map out the gradual return to competitive sport.

    We were delighted to welcome teachers, coaches, and parents from neighbouring schools.


    Corey has generously shared his PowerPoint slides here.

    If you would like access to further information from this presentation, please contact the Barker Institute.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Twilight Lecture - Concussion in Sport : Dr Corey Cunningham

    Leading doctor described the reality of concussion prevalence, testing and management in a sports context

    • 17 May 2019
  • Dr Maniotes reminded both staff and parents that the process of learning is challenging, and sometimes it can be uncomfortable to the point of wanting to give up. I have certainly experienced this feeling and have seen it in my own children. It's a natural response to learning something new. She used the graphic below to emphasise this point; early excitement and interest can soon be met with the feeling that the task is insurmountable. It was also emphasised that in the digital age of 'information abundance' this process is even more complex.

    https://www.evalotta.net/blog/2016/4/19/on-practice

    Dr Maniotes made a vital point that this feeling of discomfort is something that, as learners, we need to be more comfortable with.

    The good news is that if students are provided with a set of tools to manage information and to learn from it, then the feeling of discomfort can be replaced with a great sense of achievement when new learning occurs and new knowledge can be used. The aim of the Guided Inquiry process is to provide students with a set of tools that they can use to learn from information and to build new knowledge, and this is why we are beginning the process of implementing Guided Inquiry in the high school.

    Dr Maniotes' doctoral research is focused on the concept of Third Space. Third Space describes the point where student experience and interests intersects with mandated curriculum. Dr Maniotes' view is that the more teachers can do to connect new concepts with student experiences and prior knowledge, the deeper the learning will be. This doesn't mean that teachers have to change what they teach to suit what students are interested in, as Dr Maniotes said, 'There's way too many interesting & important things in the curriculum to worry about that!' It's more about acknowledging that, to some extent, students will naturally connect new content and ideas to what they already know and to what interests them. Guided Inquiry takes advantages of this idea of Third Space by providing students with choices within the mandated curriculum.

    It was a pleasure to welcome Dr Maniotes to Barker and I am confident that her guidance will go a long way to enhancing the implementation of Guided Inquiry as a foundational piece of our approach to teaching and learning in the high school.

    Greg Longney

    Greg Longney is a teacher of History and the Director of Teaching and Learning. His Masters of Education (Research) focused on how History teachers understand disciplinary knowledge and how they communicate it to their students. In 2017 Greg has been part of the National Emerging Leaders Program and in 2018 he has worked with a team of staff on the Elevate program to investigate high potential learning at Barker College. Greg continues to teach History from 7-12 and still regards the classroom experience as the most rewarding aspect of his role

    Guided Inquiry Learning with Dr Leslie Maniotes

    Dr Maniotes shared her doctoral research into connecting student experiences to new concepts

    • 05 April 2019
  • This was the key message on Monday night from Angus McEntyre (chiropractor, and national sports coach who also coaches field athletics at Barker).

    Angus presented the findings detailed in his recent Journal Article “Strength Training for Children and Adolescents: A progression to future health and performance” in the Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning https://www.strengthandconditioning.org/jasc-26-5

    The audience consisting of Barker and non-Barker students, parents, sports coaches and strength and conditioning trainers learned about the key factors for successful strength training in young people including:

    • Applying ‘Age Identification’ i.e. a combination of anatomical (from date of birth), biological (from physical development of the body) and athletic (from experience and knowledge in training) ages.
    • Understanding growth and puberty.
    • Defining benefits and motives of strength training.
    • Understanding and managing the risks of strength training.
    • Applying long term athletic development.
    • Designing individual age appropriate, safe and effective programs.
    • Ensuring high quality level of coaching and supervision

    Attendees were quick to retrieve a copy of the full journal article to develop their own understanding and many stayed late into the evening to ask Angus questions.


    For more information you can contact the Barker Institute, or Angus directly at angus@amhealthperformance.com

    We look forward to hosting another event in collaboration with the College of Coaches. In Term 2 we will share recent developments in concussion prevention and management, particularly focussed on action regarding secondary concussions with sports medicine expert, Dr Corey Cunningham on April 13th.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Twilight Lecture - Strength and Conditioning with Angus McEntyre

    • 08 March 2019
  • They enjoyed a light breakfast while listening to Mr Anthony Wicht (brother of Barker Language teacher Ms Madeline Wicht) share from his experience at MIT, representing Australia at the UN’s space committee and leading the development of Australia’s most recent space policy. Students (and teachers) learned that Australia has a key role to play in activities in space for applications both on earth and beyond. We look forward to hosting Anthony again next year at a Barker Institute Community Forum where the invitation will be open for all to attend.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Special Guest Anthony Wicht at NASA tour reunion breakfast

    Anthony Wicht inspired Barker NASA students to think about space policy.

    • 24 October 2018
  • Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Franken(STEAM) Evening

    • 20 August 2018
  • Questions from the audience revealed that parents and carers were excited to learn more about the methodology of teaching writing along with tips and tricks that the students could take away and apply to their written work.

    It was clear from the evening that writing, as a part of Rhetoric (one of Barker’s four pillars of Thriving), is a generalised capability that does apply across subjects and disciplines. Along with this, the skill of writing is nuanced to particular disciplines and communication purposes. Therefore there is no one-size-fits-all technique for writing, but a combination of methods that form a student’s arsenal for writing with confidence.

    The presenters provided a variety of strategies for students to improve their own writing, for improving writing through teacher feedback, and for improving writing through collaborative settings in the classroom or online. Students are encouraged to continue to seek feedback on their writing in any of their subjects from their classroom teachers.


    Please find RESOURCES below from the four short presentations of the Focus on Learning Forum - WATS.

    CLICK HERE for a selection of the WATS presentation.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    WATS (Writing Across the School) - Focus on Learning

    Presenters shared strategies for students to improve their own writing

    • 08 August 2018

  • Slides from Wednesday's presentation have been placed here to be downloaded. Please click on the following link.

    Goals, GRIT and Passion Handout - BMerrick

    The Barker Institute will re-run this event in Term Two for those families that missed out. Watch out for the date in the Barker Bulletin and on this website.

    Dr Matthew Hill

    Dr Matthew Hill is the Director of The Barker Institute with a focus on professional learning, research, and innovation in the school.  He teaches Physics and the new Science Extension course at the School which introduces students to scientific academic research. Matthew's doctorate reflects his passion for science education focussing on Representational Fluency amongst physics students at school and university. He has published in leadership, education, and science journals and been involved in course development and teaching at The University of Sydney and The University of Western Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Diploma in Divinity at Ridley College in Melbourne.

    Learning Forum - Goals, GRIT and Passion in the Senior School Years

    An examination of the key areas of GRIT

    • 13 April 2018
  • Rosalie has been an actor, a nun, a foster carer, a court interpreter, a politician, an activist, Chancellor of the Batchelor Institute and an award-winning advocate for better housing, medical care and education for Indigenous Australians. Rosalie talked about her experiences making the iconic Australian film Jedda as a teenager, her time in the Anglican Community in Melbourne and her community work.

    Rosalie explained some aspects of her Anmatjere worldview to us, for example the high level of spirituality and connection to the country (“the land owns us”) and to each other which characterises her community. She spoke about human relationships as the most fundamentally important thing in life, and giving to anyone or anything that needs your help (“when you have nothing else to give, keep on giving”). Her view is that Indigenous people do not put much store in material possessions and she offered to share her connection with Country, language and culture with others. Rosalie spoke about her hope that the consumer culture of the 21st Century will give way to a more united humanity where we “walk hand in hand together into the future and become grey together”.

    During the conversation, Rosalie and Phillip also discussed the importance of reconciliation and self-determination. In Rosalie’s view “we haven’t started reconciling, we need to be factual about history, factual about the destruction of human lives”, thus “when we talk about reconciliation, we must first talk about respect for human life”. Rosalie outlined her vision for the future of the young people in her community, in particular that they be educated in a culturally appropriate way which does not require them to assimilate. As Rosalie said, “Aboriginal people need to take the lead to make decisions about their land”.

    In addition to the conversation between Phillip and Rosalie, artworks by four visiting artists from Akaye were available for members of the audience to purchase. There was heated bidding on several pieces and the sale raised $5,500 for the cultural immersion school the Akaye community is opening on their Country next year.

    Sophie Mynott

    Sophie Mynott was the Indigenous Education Project Leader at Barker College. Currently she is establishing an Indigenous education strategy for the School and assists teachers to bring Indigenous histories, cultures and perspectives into their classroom. She also works with Indigenous communities and organisations to improve access to education for Indigenous students, and to develop the understanding and commitment to reconciliation of non-Indigenous students and teachers. Sophie’s other experience in education has involved roles at the NSW Education Standards Authority and a casual academic role at the University of NSW. She is the Deputy President of the Legal Studies Assoc of NSW, and lectures students and delivers professional development to teachers across NSW. As a Legal Studies teacher Sophie has a passion for social justice and loves engaging students with the issues of the day.

    Phillip Heath in Conversation with Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM

    A conversation with Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM, leading actor, politician and activist

    • 10 April 2018
  • Presenters on the night were Mr Len Nixon, Mr Greg Longney, Dr Greg Cunningham and Dr Brad Merrick. They explored the need to engage our children in meaningful, directed, meaningful conversations about their academic progress linked to goals and clear learning intentions.

    Using a range of activities, samples of reports and examples of the Growth Coaching framework, used by the successful College of Teachers group at the school, the parents were engaged in the evening and enjoyed the opportunity to understand How? and Why? it is so important to have focused academic conversations with students to assist their sense of self-regulation, planning and focus for all areas of their school journey.

    Dr Merrick outlined the school language around the use of TARGET and LEARNING goals, accompanied by key aspects related to strategy, effort and the ongoing recalibration of goals determined by student achievement, success and belief. He also referenced the need to develop intrinsic motivation and GRIT so that resilience and perseverance become key components of an ongoing self-regulation and learning process for all students.

    Lead coach - Len Nixon stressed the importance of parents developing their listening skills and 'being in the moment' so that the conversations are purposeful. Mr Longney and Dr Cunningham highlighted the need to ask the students question that challenged them to find solutions, rather than parents providing answers and just a critique of the work. Parents enjoyed the workshop and commented on just how difficult it is to frame the right kind of question rather than just providing solutions. 

    The parent response was extremely positive. Some reflections include "It was good to remind us to be active listeners" and "It was useful to consider ourselves as coaches and therefore we should be asking questions, not giving answers and solutions."

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    "Having an Academic Conversation with your child"

    The Importance of Learning Conversations with your Child

    • 27 November 2017
  • Through vignettes of different research projects and case studies of students from around the world, his talk shared a wonderful insight into the factors that impact student engagement in music, ranging from Self-Determination Theory (autonomy, competence and relatedness) http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/ and the impact that this has on the choices humans make to engage in and study music, through to Self-Regulation Theory and the way that music has the ability to impact students in the key areas of planning, monitoring and setting goals as they undertake their musical journey. Most importantly, Professor McPherson highlighted the need to ensure that students enjoy those early years of music making "allowing them to move in an out of different experiences". He noted that it is quite common for students to move between instruments at a young age and that the most successful and long-term engagement comes when students develop an intrinsic love of music, rather than receiving extrinsic rewards for undertaking practice for keeping up with the requirements of their teachers.

    Importantly, he noted that the best teachers have clearly articulated expectations for their students, which allow them to really enjoy the music making once they have developed the necessary understanding and skill. He emphasised the importance of developing 'Intrinsic' motivation and the need to allow our young musicians to develop a 'Growth' mindset along their journey https://www.mindsetonline.com/ . He also referenced key books and authors who are valuable resources to use in this area of musical development, including the seminal book "Drive" by esteemed author and presenter, Daniel Pink http://www.danpink.com/

    Throughout the presentation, the captivated audience were able to see the power of music, whether through participation in singing at school, learning an instrument individually or through performance in an ensemble. Gary cleverly connected all the pieces of the learning jigsaw together, allowing everyone to gain a clear understanding of the best way to engage our young musicians so that they continue their involvement for life. He highlighted the need for parents to ensure that they place a value on learning music at a young age and also shared research which highlighted that many of the best musicians are exposed to and listen to music from a very young age.

    In a school that has such a strong music program, we were thrilled to hear this presentation from one of the leading academics in this field. We thank Professor McPherson for taking the time to share his work at the Barker Institute.


    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gary_Mcpherson2

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    The Childhood Musician - An insight into learning music from the youngest age.

    Professor Gary McPherson - Ormond Chair & Director of the Melbourne Conservatorium.

    • 14 November 2017
  • Saxon spoke to us about the various aspects of taste and what makes a good quality coffee, from the sweetness of black coffee, through to the various flavours distinct to each variety. He then moved on to showing the "Paddock to Cup" process of coffee, from the growing around the world, to the roasting and grinding process. It was interesting to link what is happening on farm to what the flavour experience is when drinking.

    Saxon has also been involved in significant sustainability work in China in terms of reducing the effect of monocultures on the environment through improving diversity and increasing sustainability of farms. An initiative he has developed in partnership with a company in China is the "Huskee Cup". This is made from on-farm coffee waste, and the result is a cup made sustainably from natural ingredients that is a ceramic replacement. The Huskee Cup can be used in cafes as normal cups would. This is currently in pre-production stage and will likely become popular in cafes in the near future.

    Finally, Saxon gave us an overview of different methods of brewing coffee at home with some tips for the home barista. It was interesting to hear the effect that buying a more premium bean has in terms of both flavour and particularly on the sustainability of farming land and the livelihood of the producer.

    The audience reaction was positive with comments such as "the presentation opened my eyes to a whole new world and encouraged me to think about what goes on behind the scenes of my cuppa."

    Our Agriculture students and their parents learned much from this our first Agriculture After Dark Twilight Lecture. Many thanks to Scott Graham, Head of Agriculture, Barker, for collaborating with the Barker Institute to arrange this presentation.

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Agriculture After Dark, Twilight Series with Saxon Wright

    Coffee tasting at Agriculture After Dark - Paddock to Cup of Coffee

    • 19 October 2017
  • There were many interesting anecdotes highlighted in this enjoyable presentation.  After travelling 6 billion kilometres to find Comet 67P, the Rosetta team were thrilled to find not one, but two comets joined together. However, this comet was hissing gas out many holes on its surface. Surmounting obstacles seemed to be a theme for this mission! How to find a place for the probe, 'Philae', to land? As Warwick echoed, the aim of the mission was "not to succeed, but not to fail!"

    Once the delicate deployment of Philae on the rotating, gas hissing comet was finally achieved, hours of amazing measurements were gathered by Philae. Warwick related the usefulness of space research and cited many examples such as the atomic clocks tested in space in the 70s, which contribute to the GPS that we use daily.

    There were many questions from students including "how did Warwick forge a career in Space Engineering?" Warwick emphasised it was his dedication and persistence that put his career in motion.  His main motivation, since watching the moon landing in 1969, was that he just craved to work in any field to do with space. 

    Prior to Warwick's presentation, the Barker Robotics and Zero Robotics team gave a demonstration of their latest thrilling achievements. The Barker team were fortunate to spend more time talking to Warwick after his presentation, no doubt a memorable and inspiring experience.

    We thank Warwick for sharing his expertise with our community and hope he can visit Barker at another time as he continues his work with zero robotics and robotics through the University.


    Hear Warwick Holmes discuss Zero Robotics on the ABC with Chris Bath here

    More information on the Rosetta Mission can be found here

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Warwick Holmes - The Rosetta Mission

    Enthralling Community Forum presentation by Warwick Holmes - The Rosetta Mission.

    • 11 August 2017
  • Working with Professor Lima Semler and Professor Jackie Manuel from the University of Sydney, we had a good evening which saw the staff sharing their thoughts and thinking about two readings, one focused on collaboration and the different opportunities it brings to the classroom, while the second paper referenced creativity and its importance in the learning process. 

    It was a fantastic way for Barker to continue the partnership with the University of Sydney and the team from the Shakespeare Reloaded project. We look forward to session number two next week on August 8 and the final session on August 15. 

    Learning Caskets is a great initiative and a wonderful way to share experience and wisdom beyond the classroom. We are looking forward to the next opportunity.

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Learning Caskets - Staff professional learning and sharing

    Session One of the Learning Caskets inspires Barker Teaching staff to stop, think and reflect on reading

    • 04 August 2017
  • She highlighted the need for young women to be aspirational and to develop skills in the subjects that will provide them with the necessary confidence and capacity to be aspirational in their careers. Annalisa also highlighted the need for girls to be encouraged to take subjects like Mathematics and Science to set themselves up in the workplace for the more demanding roles that exist.

    Annalisa also reminded the audience that getting balance and looking after yourself is of utmost importance along the way. Resilience, confidence and planning were all key themes that resonated through the talk, providing a strong sense of realism while also challenging the students in the audience to ponder their future aspirations with these recommendations in mind.

    We thank Annalisa for contributing to the Twilight Series of presentations at the Barker Institute in 2017.

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    The Importance of success and value in career development for Women

    An informative and challenging presntation given by Barker College parent and the CEO of Local Government Professionals Australia NSW, Annalisa Haskell

    • 31 March 2017
  • In an earlier session with school staff and leaders, Dan also challenged his audience to consider opening their minds to new ideas and thinking, and subsequently moving beyond the ‘Fixed’ entity that we become comfortable with, because we are familiar with the way it works. Again, like the students we see daily, we as educators need to ensure that we seek and embrace new thinking and are prepared to learn through persistence and effort, even if we encounter difficulty or challenges along the way.

    There were many interesting points to consider during these sessions and we look forward to seeing aspects of ‘Growth Mindset’ theory and aspects of Dan’s presentations playing out in different ways across the fabric of Barker College in the future. 

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Growth Mindset and the right kind of praise and feedback

    Growing your mindset with Dan Haesler

    • 21 February 2017
  • It’s good for to to see the Barker Institute being acknowledged amongst other similar initiatives around the country in this article. Enjoy this piece, it’s worth the read. It’s fascinating to see how much research and data is being used to influence decisions and inform change.

    The Research Lead Down Under

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Teachers as Researchers and Leaders – Using evidence to inform and influence practice in education

    The Research Lead Downunder – Changing roles in Education

    • 13 February 2017
  • A small poll of the audience from Craig early into the evening highlighted that everyone in the room was associated with, or knew of someone who had experienced depression in various forms. Similarly, Craig informed the audience that more people die from issues related to depression than the total number killed in car accidents around Australia each year. His talk was highly personal and reflective while also allowing the audience to ask questions and seek further information about depression and related issues.

    Craig referred to various experiences in his career in media and sport, sharing stories about Wayne Bennett and a multitude of different people who have experienced his battle and supported him in his recovery. His reference to the famous Martin Luther King quote “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” certainly reinforced his powerful message of asking for help. Craig has several publications including his recent book A Better Life which is a valuable resource in this area.

    If you need further information or support, please contact the following organisations Beyond Blue or Black Dog Institute for assistance. The Barker Institute thanks Craig Hamilton for his presentation and hopes that by bringing this important issue to the stage, others may be prepared to talk about it and seek support if needed.

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    We need to have the conversation about depression!

    Craig Hamilton spoke about raising the awareness of Mental Health

    • 18 May 2016
  • Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Top 10 Tips for Motivation and Success

    Dr Brad Merrick, the Director of the Barker Institute presented an informative and enthusiastic forum

    • 16 February 2016
  • The afternoon session explored the connections with executive functioning through to language acquisition, while the evening saw parents engaged in the facts about the 'full body' workout that playing music provides for children from the time they are born, continuing throughout their lives.

    Dr Collins discussed a wide range of research as she responded to questions from the floor. She discussed how playing music related to enjoyment and well being, while the underlying message illuminated the fact that the 'music brain' is central to all of the other functions we do in our lives and pivotal in the development of our memory.

    The interest and comments from both the teachers and parents affirmed the importance of using music as a means to develop life-long learning and independence amongst students in all classrooms. Dr Collins suggested that all babies should be handed a musical instrument as they departed hospital after birth, an interesting idea to conceptualise!

    The Barker Institute is indebted to Dr Anita Collins for her contribution to our community. We thank her for her insightful comments and breadth of understanding, which allowed all participants to grasp a clear and meaningful understanding of the connections between Neuroscience and Music.


    Dr Collins' TED talk

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Neuroscience and Music Education Forum

    Dr Anita Collins presented on how playing an instrument benefits your brain.

    • 31 July 2015
  • The responses from the captivated audience highlighted the way that the event articulated the purpose of the Barker Institute as a means of contributing to the ongoing education debate, while also acknowledging the value of sharing and discussing these issues across the Barker and broader community. Mr Phillip Heath, Head of Barker articulated how the Barker Institute aligns with the broader vision and mission of the school. A wide array of guests from various educational organisations and universities, combined with educators and members of the Barker community enjoyed this event.

    Here is a selection of some of the very positive and clever responses from attendees.

    Comments included:-

    "Bartek’s presentation was very stimulating and it was good to have thought-provoking information that took us away from the specific nature of our own particular subject area – something essential for all of us, regardless of our academic focus."

    "Thank you! What a wonderful evening last night. Bartek’s talk was inspiring and reassuring, especially since much of what he said is what we were taught and brought up with as youngsters and parents!"

    "Last night’s Launch of The Barker Institute was a great success across a number of dimensions – not least of which was Dr Rajkowksi’s talk and the embedded learnings of the journey he, and others in the field of speech pathology, have been on in the past decade."

    "I must say I was fully loaded with new information by the conclusion and it certainly got the Barker Institute off to a wonderful start!"

    "I thoroughly enjoyed Bartek’s enlightening presentation and I was really struck by the Institute’s objectives – I think your focus on “hope” is a very inspiring one."

    "An entertaining, enlightening and educationally rewarding evening. The #barkerinstitute is ‘officially’ open."

    "Sharing of knowledge – collaboration & connections with larger community #barkerinstitute"


    Dr Brad Merrick

    Barker_Institute_2015_backup.pptx

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Institute Opening: Dr Bartek Rajkowski's Address

    After many months of planning, the official Barker Institute opening was a stunning success on the 5th of February

    • 06 February 2015
  • Interestingly, research identifies that in order to facilitate a higher degree of intrinsic motivation we need to be aware of the downfalls of ongoing rewards for work completed. Motivational expert, Daniel Pink, notes in Drive. The surprising truth about what motivate us: “Mechanisms designed to increase motivation can dampen it. Tactics aimed at boosting creativity can reduce it”. The best teachers continually assess the landscape in the commercial world outside their classroom, looking to develop realistic capacities in their disciplines so that their students have a sense of reality embedded in their learning. They look to promote respect for student thinking, inquiry and wonder while fostering social capacity that includes empathy and collaboration. In Five minds for the Future, Howard Gardner of Harvard University challenges educators when he talks of “the respectful mind”. He states: “If we are to fashion persons who respect differences, we need to provide models and offer lessons that encourage such a sympathetic stance.”

    Combined with consideration for these influential external drivers in education, we also need to embrace scholarship that examines the psychological attributes of successful learners, as opposed to those who stagnate and often do not achieve their potential. According to Carol Dweck, common assumptions that the reason human beings differ often include factors such as genes, physical differences, backgrounds and ways of learning. In her book, Mindset. The new psychology of success, she asks: “Who’s right? Today, most experts agree that it’s not either – or. It’s not nature or nurture, genes or environment”. Her research identifies that, “the view that you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way that you lead your life.” She further distinguishes between two distinct mindsets that exist: fixed (individual believes that their qualities and level of expertise are carved in stone) and growth (individual believes that their basic qualities can be grown through their own application and experience). Educators need to ensure that using marks and grades does not create a pool of students who see their intelligence as a fixed entity. We do not want classrooms where students only compare their success with others. The real challenge is to develop students who believe in their own capacities, are not fearful of taking risks, and have a real passion for learning. Dweck emphasises the importance of providing feedback that focuses on the effort applied rather than the outcome of the work itself. Students must further develop the desire to practise and refine knowledge and skill relative to the feedback received.

    At Barker, we encourage teachers to find the balance in their own classrooms, trying to extend the capacities of students, rather than fixing their perceptions of their own ability. Importantly, there is a need to align our strategies with those of the real world, outside the classroom, to develop independent learners who are capable of working alongside others, sharing and contributing effectively in all tasks. These considerations will be paramount as we chart the direction for our students in the coming years. Receiving feedback via a mark is not the only way a student can assess their progress. Developing students with a growth mindset needs to be at the core of all we do, both now and into the future.

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Growing our mindset: preparing learners for the future

    An article describing how learning encompasses a range of social, emotional and academic capacities, not just the ability to recall the right answer at the right time

    • 01 February 2015
  • Hattie says that the biggest issue facing educators and teachers is consensus on student progress, how big the growth in results and learning should be and what that looks like. “Expert teachers understand the Goldilocks principle of challenge in that if you set the challenge too high you won’t get there, but if it is set too low, then what’s the point?” he asks. Hattie highlights concerns about students stalling in their learning, particularly if not experiencing the opportunity to maximise their potential due to approaches to teaching and learning. Hattie notes that these factors, combined with the importance of delivering effective feedback, are challenges that we face. “We will have a lot of passive kids doing the minimum,” he says.

    The power of effective teaching and learning models, how students perceive and reflect on their learning and the role of teacher feedback is of central concern to other researchers too. Dr Carol Dweck (2006) highlights the need to foster a ‘growth mindset’ in learners whereby they are not limiting their capacity to a fixed entity.

    The capacity of an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning is its potential to increase intellectual engagement and foster deep understanding through the development of a hands-on, minds-on and a ‘research-based disposition’ towards teaching and learning. Here students are active participants who guide their understanding through exploration and connection. Inquiry values the complex, interconnected nature of knowledge construction, striving to provide opportunities for both students and teachers in collaborative relationships to build, test and reflect on their learning.

    Conventional approaches to learning are focused on the mastery of content with less emphasis on the development of skills and in the cultivation of inquiring attitudes. Teachers drive the learning, focusing on giving out information about a known body of content. Traditional education is more concerned with preparation for the next year level and in-school success than with helping a student learn to learn throughout life.

    In an educational setting that is sometimes overshadowed by external testing and measurement at both national and international levels. Learning needs to be the ‘focus’ whereby our students are developing life skills and capacities rather than just recalling content in its simplest form. In essence, the difference between traditional learning and inquiry learning is that traditional learning focuses more on learning about things (WHAT), while inquiry learning focuses more on learning things (HOW)!

    Educators across the globe are charged with the responsibility of teaching students who are immersed in a rapidly changing world. Having the right disposition to manage information and to apply skills learned will be critical attributes in the future. Harvard’s Graduate School of Education researchers (2012) identify key 21st century skills that students should develop and demonstrate. These include critical thinking, problem-solving, the ability to collaborate with others, strong written and oral communication skills, creativity, self-direction, leadership, adaptability, a sense of responsibility and global awareness.

    The ‘knowledge society’ in which we live requires new thinking about what constitutes effective and engaging teaching and learning. Teachers are now faced with the challenge as Sharon Friesen (2009) points out that “former conceptions of knowledge, minds and learning no longer serve a world where what we know is less important than what we are able to do with knowledge in different contexts”.

    In contrast with more traditional forms of teaching and learning, inquiry emphasises the process of learning in order to develop deep understanding in students in addition to the intended acquisition of content knowledge and skills. Inquiry draws upon constructivist learning theories where understanding is built through the active development of conceptual mental frameworks by the learner. Most importantly, inquiry needs students to be encouraged to take risks, make mistakes and solve problems. In a world of standardised testing, this often takes second place.

    As Great Teaching, Inspired Learning gains greater impetus in educational reforms in NSW, so too must we as a learning community respond to the challenges that living in a ‘knowledge society’ pose to us as a school.

    Dr Brad Merrick

    Brad Merrick is the immediate past Director of the Barker Institute & Director of Research in Learning at Barker. He has a keen interest in emerging technologies, professional learning and creative pedagogy. His doctorate investigated the relationship between student self-efficacy and self-regulation in creative learning environments. His professional experience in education has also involved casual academic roles at the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UWS and the UQ. He has held the post of President of the Australian Society of Music Education and also sits on the Committee of the International Commission for Music in School Teacher Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer (Music and the Arts Education) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

    Passive students or enquiring young minds? Shifting the mindset from learning to inquiry

    A discussion of the NSW government’s 'Great Teaching, Inspired Learning – A Blueprint for Action'

    • 23 September 2014