New Generation Learning - An Introduction

Southern Cross Grammar has a vision for New Generation Learning - a distinctive approach to school education that is built on the solid foundation of proven international research and leading educational thinking.  This approach is timely for twenty-first century students for four key reasons. 
 
1. Today’s students come from a generation like no other
Their learning needs and styles in an information-saturated society are profoundly different to the needs of previous generations. They live in a technologically-directed world that has no precedent.  Their family dynamics are more diverse, more complex and frequently more uncertain than other generations have known.  They will shortly, as adults, confront global and Australian challenges that are unique in our history.  They will engage in vocations and careers that reflect a knowledge economy that is unique to the 21st century.  Our students must be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills requisite for success in a rapidly-changing, technological world.

A “different generation” requires a different approach to schooling.  The Southern Cross Grammar response reinforces family and community links, encourages open-ended inquiry and personal expression of talents and values.  It emphasises synergistic creativity and each child’s individuality.
 
 
2. The modern Australian parent is also different. 
In particular, perhaps more than previous generations, they are extremely conscious that schools impact directly and very significantly on their children’s life chances.  Not surprisingly they are seeking specialized educational opportunities for their children, they are searching for schools that link directly to a wide range of community services - psychological, medical, social, in particular - and they are also seeking ways to heighten continuity, connectedness and coherence in their children’s educational careers.

The Southern Cross Grammar rationale represents a concentrated response to these dynamic, changing features of the Australian education landscape of 2015.  But it is more than that.


3. New generation learning has been designed with the outcomes of significant international research very clearly in mind.
Most specifically, the Southern Cross Grammar rationale for New Generation Learning recognises three significant developments:

  • Recent OECD and PISA studies of student achievement, which tell us that Australian schools are world class in their approach to intellectual thinking processes, but far less impressive in their responsiveness to the needs of underachieving students, particularly boys.

  • The 2004 OECD - TIMSS studies of international mathematics and science achievement, which indicate that Australian schools perform relatively poorly when compared with schools in many other countries in terms of mathematics and science knowledge.  In fact, achievement levels in these learning areas have declined over the past decade in Australian schools.  

  • Pioneering research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted under the auspices of the Annenberg Foundation, which has uncovered powerful insights to enable individual schools to create improved outcomes through their internal management and leadership processes.  These insights are captured in the dual concepts of “collective professional responsibility” and “authentic (or schoolwide) pedagogy” and have been validated in Australian contexts through research spearheaded by Professor Peter Cuttance for the Australian Commonwealth Government.

The implication of these authoritative international research studies is that school systems must clearly define what they mean by cognitive development and the approaches they will take to cognitive development.  The pedagogy, curriculum and organisational structures of Southern Cross Grammar represent direct responses to such authoritative insights.  In addition, with the development of its Thinking Principle, Southern Cross Grammar defines what it means by cognitive development and the approaches it takes to cognitive development.  


4. Closely aligned to the findings of these research initiatives is the rapidly changing image of teaching as a profession.
 
Whereas just forty years ago the Coleman Report in the United States and the Plowden Report in the United Kingdom were asserting that “schools don’t make a difference” to children’s life chances, we now know, from the Wisconsin research in particular, that individual schools have the professional capacity to structure themselves so as to not only change the educational experiences of children but to significantly increase their academic and other levels of achievement.  It is for reasons such as this that the concept of “leading class” is becoming part-and-parcel of projections of the image of the teaching profession in Australia and internationally.  

The Southern Cross Grammar educational rationale recognises that highly motivated, highly collaborative and highly skilled teachers can influence student achievement in ways not historically thought possible.  

Our 2015 students are a “different generation”.  Our 2015 parents have different needs and different aspirations for their children.  Australian education, we know from international research, is good - but not good enough to meet the needs or expectations of many concerned Australians.  But our Australian schools and teachers, provided with appropriate environments, resources and support systems, have the capacity to create outcomes that exceed what is generally thought possible.     

New Generation Learning is a new, fresh approach to schooling.  It brings together the best of proven traditional and innovative educational practice in a technology-rich but highly personalised environment and offers a futuristic vision, vibrant learning environments, outstanding teaching, learning and assessment processes and flexible arrangements.