Brisbane Grammar School from its inception in 1868 has remained committed to providing young men with the lifelong advantages that a broad liberal education confers. The capacity to think critically and creatively, to deal effectively with diversity and change, to respond analytically and imaginatively to complex challenges; these are the enduring virtues of a liberal education.
Historically, BGS has always seen innovative practice in teaching and learning as essential to maintaining our standing as a leading academic school. During the 1990s, we undertook an extensive search of teaching approaches and methods to find research-based systems which, when enacted through highly adept teachers and carefully planned curriculum, would create a teaching and learning environment of the highest standard. This environment would not only enable students to develop the skills and ways of learning essential to the 21st century but would also make explicit the teaching of higher-order thinking. Consequently, BGS in 1997 adopted the Dimensions of Learning and Habits of Mind frameworks, enacting these throughout the school curriculum. These frameworks have been complemented by a sustained commitment to the ongoing integration of ICT into all teaching and learning, specifically the purposeful use of digital platforms to organise and deliver curriculum. Finally, an explicit emphasis on the foundations of literacy and numeracy, enacted via the rigour and precision of traditional disciplinary models, informs all our curriculum design and classroom practice.
Over the years 2012-2016, BGS carefully audited and reviewed its curriculum frameworks and practices. A renewed commitment to systematically developing effective thinking cultures within all classrooms and staffrooms, enabled and led by teachers who continually grow and refine their instructional repertoire, has driven our curriculum design processes this year. Learning experiences are deliberately planned in the language of student thinking and cognition, while feedback is targeted through distinct values of inquiry to guide learner improvement. Significantly, the schema that underpins Grammar's vision for an effective thinking culture aligns closely with the New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives by Marzano and Kendell, a text essential to understanding student learning in the 21st century.
Connectedness and the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities
Twenty-first century learning can be seen as predicated on two principles: 'connecting' learners and the effective use of space. Connecting learners refers not only to the vast network connections to information that we can enable through ever newer and faster ICT infrastructure and services but more importantly to the personal and human connections and interactions that remain essential to ensuring meaningful learning. The effective use of space refers to our taking maximal advantage of the opportunities the School's diverse physical spaces offer staff and students through the conscious alignment of space to pedagogical practice and also to the deliberate and thoughtful navigation of digital space by staff and students so as to best enable learning. Our students develop the high-order skills necessary to operate within and across complex information networks where knowledge is constantly being recreated and distributed in new forms.
The School uses a Learning Management System, badged as MyGrammar, to support both classroom teaching and as a delivery platform for learning resources, objects and services. The curriculum resources provided include course documents, slide-shows, educational videos, interactive quizzes and tutorials, discussion forums, surveys and access to academic databases. The School has an extensive wireless network that enables access across the entire campus and all classrooms are equipped with a range of display technology. A One to One Mobile Computing Program operates across Years 7 to 12 and allows students immediate access to their learning anywhere, anytime.
BGS is well advanced in the process of phasing in the Australian Curriculum. Outlined by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) – the independent authority responsible for implementing the national curriculum – the Australian Curriculum includes seven General Capabilities. These General Capabilities traverse all specific disciplines and study areas and are regarded as the core skills and dispositions for 21st century students. The General Capabilities are:
Information and communication technology capability
Critical and creative thinking
Personal and social capability
The School is committed to nurturing these core capabilities in students through all our programs and across year levels. The regular mapping and auditing processes undertaken by the School's Studies Directorate ensure that the alignment and sequencing of curriculum across Years 5 to 12 enables the consistent development of these capabilities.