All over Australia children are celebrating Book Week, as a mark of the enduring importance of the printed word. Book Week certainly upholds the importance of children learning to read proficiently as integral to the development of life long literacy skills such as decoding the language, oral language use, listening, writing and comprehending. Right through to the age of 15, their skills in literacy are developing language capacity and complexity.
Book Week is also the time when educators affirm that learning to read plays a major part in enhancing children’s intellectual capability, the ability to think creatively and critically and in learning how to communicate with one another. Children become immersed in fantastic stories which challenge their imagination, transport them to far away places or show them how to courageously solve problems. Research also tells us that reading books develops multiple neural pathways in children’s minds, expanding their knowledge and social skills in a range of areas. If the proliferation of multi-media experiences destined to capture their attention in the teenage years provides exciting challenges for the future, then “learning to love learning” through reading books is the foundation of making sense of the experiences to come.
The traditional Book Week Parade was enormous fun for all involved at St John’s Primary campus on Wednesday and the Secondary campus Teachers vs Students Book Week Debate “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island” showed equal measures of creativity and originality. At St John’s, students learn to love learning and our Book Week celebrations certainly provided a great vehicle to demonstrate this claim!
Last weekend I was a privileged to travel to Melbourne to support our senior musicians and staff attending the biennial Combined Schools Music Festival, hosted this year by St Leonards College, Melbourne. Students from Radford College, Canberra and Kinross Wollaroi, Orange joined St John’s students in working together in a spirit of collaboration to create great music.
Students were tutored for three days on performance techniques by internationally acclaimed conductors Dr John Lynch (Concert Band), Nicholas Bochner (Orchestra) and Dr Kathleen McGuire (Choir), alongside our very own Mr Neill Thacker. These musicians and educators brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience which our students soaked in and adds to their experiences as musicians themselves.
Our students were able to experience working with conductors to learn different techniques and adapt to different methods of teaching and learning. In this collaborative environment, students from the four schools were able to make new friends and enjoy the experience of cooperation and collaboration in the creation of music.