By Anthony Cavagna
Acting Head of the Primary School 2016
At the end of term four, I had the privilege of joining some of the 8s & 9s students on a hike to Sealer’s Cove in Wilsons Promontory. The physical, mental and emotional demands of the walk into the wilderness also gave me an opportunity to reflect on some connections to the educational opportunities afforded our students here at Arlington.
The impetus for the hike came from the students themselves after their experiences at their winter camp earlier in the year. Several students expressed a wish for more experiences to engage with the outdoors. This idea was then discussed by staff and parents whilst returning from the camp, reflecting the way teachers and parents can work together to cater to their interests and learning needs.
Frequent interactions with older walkers along the Sealer’s Cove track had passers-by commenting, “Wow! I wish I had that experience when I was 10 years old”. These are similar sentiments from visitors to our learning environment, designed to accommodate our School's approach to active learning, embodied in the child-scaled, multi-purpose buildings.
But most evident during this experience was the way our students were able to rise to the challenges presented to them. For some, this meant pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones and challenging their own preconceived ideas about what they could achieve and overcome – from the rapidly changing terrain on the track to the composting toilets at the campsite! In many small but powerful ways, the students displayed their growing leadership skills – from encouraging each other to continue walking at their own pace to sharing their belongings and helping others through muddy puddles on the track.
The trip could be viewed as a microcosm of the larger learning environment at Arlington – challenging students to be courageous, to explore new experiences and overcome challenges with the support of their community.
I also reflected on my own journey as a leader in our community and have relished the opportunity to work closely with Arlington families over my time since joining the 6s & 7s in mid-2013. Like our hikers, I have been challenged, encouraged and enjoyed the support of many members of our community, and this has taught me so much about the unique learning environment we are lucky to experience every day at Preshil. I look forward to seeing the exciting changes ahead, as both a parent and educator, and continue to challenge, explore and support the endeavours of our committed teachers, parents and students.
I would especially like to acknowledge the efforts of Rachel Bowen for organising the hiking experience for her students. The involvement of parents Michael Wheelahan, Stephen Bram and James Morrison who assisted in the trek to and from Sealer’s Cove is also acknowledged. Without their support the walk would not have gone ahead, or been as much fun!
Art @ Arlington
By Claire Robertson
The Tree House gets very busy with exhibitions and visiting artists.
At the end of Term 3, the 5s, 6s and 7s created a wonderful exhibition titled ‘Art Stories.’ The children worked collaboratively in groups to write a story and then experimented with ways to represent that narrative through painting. Tying in with their classroom investigation into ‘Who are Aboriginal people’, we studied a number of contemporary Aboriginal artists and art collectives who have storytelling in their paintings including Ngapa Jukurrpa, Alkawari Dawson, the Pinup Women's Collaborative and sisters Amy French and Lily Long. The children spent five weeks developing the work.
“A painting you would normally do would only take a day. We put more effort into it because we worked on it for a month and we did more to it.” – Finn
The collaborative nature of the task provided the opportunity to practise positive communication and negotiation. Hephzibah reflected: “I liked what the others did. I think it wouldn’t make it as good if I just did it on my own because I like other people's ideas and I think other people's ideas should go into it. When I disagreed, I just talked to them and I said, do you have any other interests that we could use because we have to work as a team.”
We discussed perspective and contrast (how to use colour and outline) as well as focusing on a different practical skill each week. These included choosing the right brush, brush techniques (wet and dry brush) and colour mixing.
The children installed the exhibition themselves and displayed their written stories alongside the paintings. We did an acknowledgement of country and Paige made a wonderful welcome speech to all the families and friends.
To coincide with the biennial Preshil curtain, the 10s and 11s learnt about Fibre Art. Each week, students experimented with different techniques including soft sculpture, block printing, wax batik and cross-stitch.
Half way through term, we were very lucky to have local artist, Eva Heiky Olga Abbinga, for a workshop on cross stitch. She challenged the 10s and 11s' ideas of quilting, showing them examples that ranged from the first Australian quilts (possum skin cloaks) through to contemporary quilts made from food wrappers and toys. In her workshop, Eva asked each student to contribute a square to a collaborative class quilt. The quilt was white on red referencing early colonial collaborative quilts.