16 October 2017

From the Head of Senior School

On Tuesday of last week, 28 boys in Years 9 and 10 returned, both inspired and tired, from a two-week residential school at Stanford University. The boys had just participated in the Stanford International Youth Program for academically gifted and talented students from around the world. Not only were the Scotch boys the first group of Australians invited to participate in this prestigious programme, Scotch College is the only school to have been invited to participate as a discrete group. All other groups comprised the best and brightest secondary students from a number of schools in a given country to form a single class.

So how did the boys compare? Dr Ernst who presented a three-hour lecture on endocrinology, said, "Wow, the questions you (the boys) are asking are the best I have ever had!"; Mr Montes, our head counselor who lived in with our touring group described the Scotch boys as the best group he has worked with; and Dr Gary Antonick was amazed that Scotch College was delivering a thinking skills class to all Year 9 and 10 students on the same reasoning processes he was using in his intuitive problem-solving classes.

As I reflected on why the Scotch boys stood-out amongst the academically selected students from around the world, I realised two important differences: 1. A curiosity and willingness to ask questions rather than simply provide answers; and a genuine gratitude and appreciation of the experience the boys were receiving.

After each class, boys were heard thanking the lecturer as they left the room with many boys making their way to the front of the room and waiting for their opportunity to thank the lecturer personally and shake their hand. Mr Sterrett and I were watching young men of ability and character.

In an increasingly complex world where information is available at our fingertips, Berger (2014) likens questions and answers to stocks on the market. Questions are rising in value while answers are declining. The real value lies in what people do with knowledge when pursuing a query.

questions

The International Baccalaureate's inquiry approach to learning, together with experiences at the Harry Perkins Institute, Thinking Skills classes in Year 9 and 10; Year 10 Personal Projects; Theory of Knowledge classes in the IB Diploma Programme, to name just a few, are all contributing to an education that has Scotch boys academically well prepared for the world stage.

On the home front, the Senior School came together for the Inter-House Athletics carnival last weekend. After spirited competition over two days the athletics carnival concluded with a wonderful marching display from each of the Houses and Pipe Band. With 21 Pipe band members away at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, it was remarkable to see the depth of talent in the Pipe Band programme as a band of over 50 boys performed a marching display before a large and highly appreciative crowd of parents and local residents. It was wonderful to see Mr de Grussa leading the band again while Mr Bailey and Mr Hamilton are away in Edinburgh.

To all families in Year 12, please note there is one remaining assembly that will involve the Year 12 boys marching to the assembly in the Dickinson Centre. For many of the Year 12 boys, this will mark the culmination of five years of marching to the assembly. The assembly will also feature the Athletics Team send off. I hope to see many of our Year 12 families at the assembly to mark this final occasion. The assembly will be held on Thursday, 10 September at 8.35am.

Finally, I wish the boys well in tomorrow night's Western Australian Debating League grand final and this week's Year 8 - 10 production of The Island of Dr Moreau.

Dr Rob McEwan

Head of Senior School

Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question. Bloomsbury: New York.