16 October 2017

Head of Middle School

Thank you for your support and attendance at the Middle School Cross Country Carnival last week. To see the Gooch Pavilion and grassy bank covered with spectators just added to the colour and excitement of the day. Congratulations to Bruce House in breaking an 8 year Inter- House competition drought with their win!

As we head toward the mid-term break, a weekend I am sure your sons are looking forward to, staff will take a long look at the assessments boys have returned recently and begin to prepare end of semester reports. I draw your attention to the following topics I have simply titled Demystifying Life in Middle School. One offers a question and answer session around the MYP and reporting, the other some reading on a topic that may be of relevance in your home. I hope either or both are useful.

Demystifying Life in Middle School

The MYP

One of the significant transitional aspects of arriving at Scotch College is coming to grips with the International Baccalaureate curriculum and in Middle School this means the MYP, the Middle Years Programme. Many boys find the move to criterion based assessment a new challenge, others the idea of being assessed on the process of learning and the application of new learning versus a steadfast focus on content retrieval their new challenge. For parents the absence of letter or numerical grades, assessment results that are reflected in bands is new, along with the talk of concepts, profile traits and internationalism takes some time and explanation to understand.

Next week Thursday 2 June from 8:45am we offer an information session for parents titled 'Demystifying the MYP'. Two 20 minute presentations, one on the MYP as a curriculum, the other on Assessment and Reporting in the MYP will be followed by a question and answer session. Presenting will be Mrs Charlotte Cook-Casey, Scotch College's MYP Coordinator and Ms Anna Eriksson, Dean of Teaching and Learning in Middle School. The session will be held on the top floor of the Middle School building. For parents new to the MYP this is an excellent precursor to receiving and comprehending the Semester 1 student report.

Teenage Boys

Do any of the following words describe your son right now? Unmotivated, won't apply himself at school, can't be bothered, disorganised, monosyllabic, struggling with authority, making poor choices, spending ages online or endlessly hungry? These are just some of the descriptors Maggie Dent, a highly regarded commentator on adolescent male development, uses to describe the onset of adolescence in boys. I regularly use the word dynamic to describe this phase, for the boys, confusing or conflicting might be more accurate from their perspective. Maggie talks about adolescent boys putting on masks, masks that allow them to fit in, to be like their peers, a mask that helps them to not stand out or draw added attention to themselves. It allows them to hide who they really are right now and sometimes it disguises the son you think you know. This behavioural mask helps cover the anxiety they feel, triggered in part by the hormonal, physical and brain changes happening to them. Added to this is the tantalising new world that lies online: from chatting on Skype, sharing images on Instagram to battling it out in the gaming world, there is a lot of distraction out there for boys who are not thinking with the full power of their intellects right now.

They need us, parent and teachers, to understand what is going on. Dr Ian Lillicoe, Celia Lashlie, and Paul Litherland are some authors in the area of adolescent male development and their humorous observations and distilled advice in living with them is invaluable. I cannot over estimate the value in reading some of their material, if for nothing else than to reassure yourself that what you are experiencing is situation normal and that you are doing OK.

On the aspect of living with a boy you feel is spending too much time on his screen, possibly at the expense of developing face to face friendships, interpersonal skills, or even muscle tone, Maggie Dent has written this excellent article: Teen Boys and Gaming: the 10 Agreements for Healthy Balance. I think you will like them - I do. Having a teenage son in my house I particularly like No 4. www.maggiedent.com/content/blog/teen-boys-gaming-10-agreements-healthy-balance

Mr Richard Ledger

Head of Middle School