Passengers to Pilots

College Blog Thursday, 27 Oct 2022

I have a lot of respect for parents who have already supported sons and daughters to clock up 120 hours behind the wheel. I can only imagine that first moment when roles are reversed. The passenger now a driver. The driver now a passenger, trying to look calm and confident while also hunting around for something firm to cling onto as the car pulls out, your life literally in their hands.

We all know that there are times when we need to let go as parents for our children to grow and flourish. When we must take off the training wheels, so they fully experience the freedom of riding a bike, even though we know there are going to be some wobbles and bumps along the way. To prepare them for the path rather than prepare the path for them. To shift students from being passengers to progressively becoming pilots of their own learning through lots of small little steps over a long period of time.

This shift, from students being passengers to pilots of their own learning is something that is important at Norwest Christian College. For this reason it is also something which we want to partner with parents to develop as students move through the College and grow their capacity and something which we would love to explore further with families at the upcoming parent workshop on 1 November. 

Passengers to Pilots was also the theme for this year’s Norwest Christian College Conference on Monday, 10 October 2022. All Norwest educators together with teachers from 14 schools from NSW and interstate spent the day exploring how we view learning and learners and how to cultivate classroom experiences and environments where students are curious and seek out challenge. College Principal, Mrs Marlow started the day with a presentation of 4 key beliefs which underpin the concept of Passengers to Pilots focuses.

These are that:

  1. Learners are made in the image of God, so learning experiences should foster agency and grow more than content memorisation
  2. Learners are uniquely made, so we need to use a range of approaches to learning
  3. Learners are each made for a purpose, so we need to help each student explore their passions and interests and ultimately uncover their purpose
  4. Learners are made to live in community, so we need to learn with others and to serve others

The educator conference also featured an international educational leader, James Nottingham, who has pioneered the concept of the Learning Pit. This metaphor of the process of learning normalises challenge and reframes mistakes. Errors are learning opportunities not a threat to self-confidence.

As mentioned above, we are very aware of the need to be learning in community and for this reason all families are strongly encouraged to attend an upcoming Community Workshop on 1 November starting at in the Atrium. This evening will provide an opportunity to learn about some of the upcoming opportunities planned for students to increasingly become pilots of their own learning, including providing more opportunities for students to engage in Project Based Learning in coming years.

New Tech Network, a leader in Project Based Learning who Norwest is collaborating with, explain this approach to learning this way:

Students collaborate on meaningful projects that require critical thinking, creativity, and communication in order for them to answer challenging questions or solve complex problems. By making learning relevant, students see a purpose to developing dispositions and understanding concepts and content. Through this process, project-based learning gives students the opportunity to develop the real-life skills required for success in today’s world.

Families who come to the evening will learn about some of the very successful projects which have already been completed at Norwest and will also have a chance to have your questions about Project Based Learning answered.

Please note that this does not mean that Norwest Christian College is considering shifting from its current calm and purposeful approach to learning. The type of Project Based Learning we are committed to does not mean students having complete autonomy to do what they want and that teachers can sit back and relax as students descend into chaos! Rather, students will be able to engage in purposeful Project Based Learning when this suits the curriculum with expert coaching from their teacher. This is just one of a range of different approaches to learning the College is committed to which also include Explicit Direct Instruction, or in non-teacher speak, ‘I do’, ‘We do’, You do’, where the teacher shows students how to do something or what a concept means, everyone gets to practice the concept of skill together and then students can individually practice or review the concept or skill.

The evening will be interactive, with an opportunity to get to know other families and will also include some practical ways to strengthen the partnership between the College and families by providing a chance to use some common hacks to help students value mistakes and see challenge as a normal part of learning.

Please join us for a Community Workshop on 1 November starting at 7:30pm and finishing at 8:30pm.

For more information about the concept of the Learning Pit click here.

For more information about Project Based Learning click here.

Andrew Beitsch
Director of Professional Learning and Accreditation