Class 8’s Year of Challenge

Year 8 at Castlemaine Steiner School is always a very full and challenging year. This year is no exception. Highlights include demanding outdoor ed. experiences, the presentation of major projects, not to mention, a full scale Shakespeare production.

At most schools year eight is just another numeral between seven and nine. Here it includes challenges that are designed to cumulatively represent aspects of what is best in our curriculum, over what, for many of our students, has been ten years at this school.

Early next term, for example, this particular class will be spending six days in an unsupported trek through the wilderness spaces of the Flinders Ranges, where the boundary lines between interior and exterior landscapes blur somewhat as the unbroken horizon becomes the only constant throughout each day’s journeying.

Next week they head off for few days on a city camp. Activities will include orienteering and visiting a homeless refuge, important experiences for ‘country kids’, all from a central city venue.

Last week saw the students setting up displays and making final preparations for the spoken presentations of their major projects. These are based on topics that the students choose themselves under the guidance of an external mentor (not a family member) who they must, themselves, approach. The project usually spans at least six months and the creative and practical processes must be fully documented in a journal. The entire project, including the journal and presentation are assessed by an external assessor.

I have heard it said that most of the population, when given the choice between a slow and painful death or public speaking, would opt for the former. Our Year 8 students get no such choice. Over the course of the year they have been preparing with small group rehearsals and project updates for their ‘big night’ when, in front of an audience upward of around 150 adults, family, mentors and teachers, they presented the journey of their project in a three to five minute speech.

Some of the achievements of our students over the years have been remarkable, opening many doorways to new interests and skills they have continued to develop in the years ahead. I expect no less from this group.

For obvious reasons, attendance at such an event is by invitation only, however all presentations will remain on display until recess on Monday and the students will be available to speak with about their projects after assembly.

I well remember some years ago looking at the projects with my then Class 5 on the morning after. Amongst the interested visitors was the then Assistant Principal of the Secondary College whom I overheard remark to the effect, “You realise, of course, that these students won’t be challenged in this way again until they get to their VCE.”

If you are regular to our Monday assembly do allow time to stay, if not, I invite, indeed urge you to make the effort. You won’t be disappointed.


John Goble

For the College of Teachers

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