The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Through personal experience, I empathise with the challenges that parents have faced over the past month as they juggled work, entertainment, household duties and education for the entire family in the confines of their home. There is no doubt that even though the move to online teaching was handled exceptionally well by our community, there would have been moments of family frustration when we all dealt with regular interruptions as the facets of our lives came crashing together.  As a parent, I personally felt a 'small' sigh of relief as the announcement came from the Headmaster that students would be returning to school on Monday and there was a similar response from my children, who could not wait to see their friends, teachers and play on those magical Scotch ovals once again. Watching their online learning journey and seeing the creativity of staff who have made their lessons relevant and engaging has been joyous to observe and, similarly, I have been astounded to see how independent they can be at monitoring their learning, particularly when they realised their standard of work was being supervised and they were receiving regular feedback.

However, no matter how comparable the system for online teaching was to the classroom experience, the routine of coming to school, engaging with the community face-to-face and sharing our daily lives with each other is what makes this school thrive. A school feels unusually empty without the heart and soul of the place, our young people, and it is a salient reminder of the importance of having that regular human contact.

Likewise, much of the complex learning that occurs in the classroom sits above the knowledge curriculum and is best developed in our students through interaction. Learning from our teachers or peers, by observing the way people respond to us or what they are willing to share of themselves, is important for the development of our human qualities. We  have to observe in order to emulate, master and then teach these skills to others. These cognitive skills such as sustained attention, flexible thinking, information processing and pattern recognition are best challenged in a classroom environment and although in the confines of our home we may learn uninterrupted, it is the complexity of learning in these stimulating environments that challenges us and develops the adolescent brain. Through Teams and other social forums, we hoped to provide elements of this, however, we are thoroughly looking forward to returning to a more natural way of interacting and working hard on challenging all aspects of our children's learning.

Whilst some members of our community must continue in these unusual circumstances, I want to wish them the very best and hope that they are able to return to school as soon as possible.  As a school, we will continue to support these young people from afar and will work hard to ensure they continue to play an important role in the Scotch community.