“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
– Malcolm X
The debate over the purpose of education never seems to end. Opinions vary with political, social, and cultural influences. Without a clear understanding of what you are aiming to achieve, without a defined purpose, or without an understanding of the social capital of society, how can any education system succeed?
Are we to produce young people who can remember specific content and can pass examinations only?
Are we to educate young people in such a way that they never experience challenge, difficulty or, indeed, failure?
Do we have a broader purpose to produce young people who have the necessary personal traits and character strengths to not merely survive, but rather thrive and flourish in an ever-changing and dynamic world?
Are we looking to encourage those who are not scared of failure, who are resilient in the face of such challenges? Those who have the necessary personal, social, cultural, academic, and intellectual potential to be engaged global citizens?
Those concerned with the global issues facing human existence? Those concerned about the welfare of all people? And those ready to accept challenge and prepared to act with purpose and character?
Education need not be to remember the elements on the periodic table in their structured order, but rather to understand the structure and use this to make predictions and establish trends.
It need not be merely about calculating the area of a triangle or a square, but rather applying these mathematical concepts to design playgrounds and buildings.
Education need not be about the mere retention of content, but rather the application of such concepts to design new technologies and applications and challenge the way we do things now.
At A.B. Paterson College, while bound by the Australian Curriculum, which details what concepts we must teach (as for every school), it does not define how we teach.
This enables us much freedom in addressing what we consider the true purpose of education and providing our students with the tools, experiences, and holistic development to grow in character and personal strength.
It also means we place importance on the exposure to the many social, cultural, academic, and intellectual reasonings required for students to make their mark on the world.
The pedagogical approach of Teaching for Understanding, developed by Harvard University’s Project Zero, has been combined with the leading research of Hattie, Marzano, Seligman, and others to provide a unique pedagogy that is based on the finest education research in the world. This is the A.B. difference!
Our college has a reputation of academic excellence, but in many respects this reputation is not well understood.
Unlike a number of schools, our college is not academically selective, nor do we only enrol young people with a particular academic strength. Excellence in our opinion is defined by the individual and is about striving to do and achieve your very best in all you do.
Excellence is about being willing to be challenged, to try new things, and to constantly seek improvement whether that be in academic or sporting endeavours or in our service and understanding of others.
As a result of this approach, our students excel, they are not frightened to face challenges, and they have the holistic development and ability to apply their knowledge — the very basis of true understanding.
One of the opportunities offered to our students in 2019 was the World Scholar’s Cup — a celebration of scholars from throughout the globe. These students work and strive to understand and deal with serious global issues in a team-based competition.
The competition deals with problems and issues that are multidisciplinary and require people to work together creatively in collaboration. It also requires them to think critically about issues they are confronted with.
Following the success in the regional rounds, in which 112 of our students from Years 5 to 10 won medals in their various divisions of this competition, the vast majority qualified for the Global Round of champions in Beijing.
From these amazing students, 24 were selected to represent A.B. Paterson College against 3500 students from 39 countries in Beijing.
In a competition in which students were challenged to face a significant range of problems and issues that far exceeded the domain of a standard curriculum, and against some of the finest academics from the America/Oceania region, each of our students won no less than two division medals each.
In addition to these outstanding results, the college had two junior teams in the top 10 and all four senior teams placing in the top 11 teams of this competition.
From an initial 50,000 entrants from 75 countries, 18 of these students will now travel to Yale University in the ultimate Tournament of Champions against the finest thinkers of their generation.
Such achievement and success can be attributed to two main factors: first, the nature of the pedagogy delivered at A.B. Paterson College and the way in which it encourages the development of thinking in our young people and, second, the engagement of our young people with our programs — their determination, commitment to excellence, their ability to constructively work with others in collaboration, and their resultant outstanding personal achievement.
Such success is mirrored in so many areas of endeavours within our college community and speaks of a culture in which young people are genuinely supported, encouraged, and developed. We pride ourselves on cultivating a culture in which they feel comfortable to take risks and not fear ridicule or embarrassment. We also focus on ensuring they are challenged by their teachers and encouraged to do their best.
The development of a child — in which they achieve their very best — takes so much more than pure academic ability alone. It also takes a culture of learning that enables and encourages students to go beyond their natural ability.
Sadly, this culture is not evident in all parts of Australian society. We can see the impact and the product of this in the complacency and sense of entitlement in some parts of our society.
If we are to change these negative influences, we need parents, young people, and all educational communities to do more than address mere curriculum. This takes partnerships, trust, commitment, and a willingness for parents and schools to work with each other.
The African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is as relevant now as ever, but what has changed is that in so many societies, the village is now missing.
It is my hope that every family and every child can find their village — a place to call home, a place to connect with others, a place to thrive — a place where they can achieve their ‘Excellence, Care, and Commitment’.
A.B. Paterson College — a New Age village for all who wish to step into tomorrow.