The need for a framework derives from our desire to equip our students as well as we possibly can for the challenges that life will present to them after they leave school. We want our graduates to flourish in their adult lives as God intends. We want them to come to love Him, know Him, be useful in His Kingdom, and to achieve the purpose for which they have each been created. To flourish and to achieve, our graduates need to be equipped with a vast amount of knowledge and knowhow, but more importantly in today’s, or in fact tomorrow’s world, they will need to be capable individuals, with a broad range of skills and dispositions. These skills and dispositions are the focus of the Building Purposeful Lives (BPL) framework.
It is common for teachers in the P-12 sequence or teachers of various Secondary subjects to use different terminology to describe the same concept. It is even more common for educators and parents to do this. When this takes place students commonly build separate learning silos, unable to make what we assume will be obvious connections. For example, where ‘perseverance’ is an issue for a child in Mathematics, they may not connect this struggle to the ‘stickability’ lessons their Art teacher taught them that led to successful development of their drawing skills. They are even less likely to connect these lessons to the ‘harden up’ lessons that their football coach has been teaching them. BPL will standardise the language used in each student’s life, definitely by the many teachers with which they interact, and hopefully with their parents and carers as well.
This common language will enable students to better recognise when the adults in their lives are addressing related material, aiding them as they connect these various learning moments together. Consistent terminology will reduce the number of silos, reduce the complexity of students’ lives, and improve their learning by increasing the height of each silo and thus their overall skill level and the strength of their dispositions.
Our youngest students are three years old and the majority will remain at the College until graduation at the end of Year 12. This structure gives us the perfect opportunity to maximise the benefits of teamwork principles in a way that does not simply add to our students’ development and learning, but multiplies them like compound interest. Gains in the early years will be vastly magnified by the time a student leaves school.
In the areas identified in BPL, educators do not commonly have the benefit of a syllabus. Schools do not typically spend time as much time planning learning in these areas as they do for prescribed content and skills. For this reason, even the best educators with the best of intentions (like those at Norwest Christian College) can unknowingly invest their energies inefficiently from time to time, either by planning learning that has previously been covered by others, or by attempting to teach things for which students do not yet have the prerequisite understanding or competency.
The educators at Norwest Christian College are taking their students learning of the dispositions in our BPL framework as seriously as their learning of prescribed content and skills. The BPL framework now guides our educators, from Pre-school to Year 12, as they plan curriculum and lessons, and deliver both pastoral programs and prescribed syllabus content. They will track students’ development in each BPL disposition, and plan for each students’ progress as they seek to provide regular opportunities for students to grow in each element. This planning and tracking will ensure that learning opportunities are best suited to each student.
Along with the BPL framework that has already been launched, College staff are developing materials that will focus students on the sequence of steps they need to take to ensure they master each skill and develop each disposition. These materials will also be crucial for educators as they collaborate, plan and teach, ensuring that they do not repeat lessons students have already learned, or skip necessary learning as their students transition through their school experience. Parents too will be able to use these materials to work with their children to develop BPL dispositions in the context of their home lives.