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‘Being Round Square’ by Debbie Planck, Head of Teaching and Learning, Primary

Flinders is currently considered a candidate school within Round Square since recently joining this global organisation.  Round Square is a worldwide network of more than 200 like-minded innovative schools reaching across 50 countries in six continents that share a passion for real-world experiential learning for students.

Established more than 50 years ago by educational visionary Kurt Hahn who promoted the need to educate for character above everything else, this was not the mainstream view of the time.  Kurt Hahn was the founder of Outward Board, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, United World Colleges and the Round Square, and he believed that a true education should be experiential and values based. The values of concern and compassion for others, the willingness to accept responsibility, and tenacity in pursuit of the truth, were central to his educational philosophy.

Today however, character education and the acquisition of ‘soft skills’ are widely acknowledged to be essential in the development of well-rounded, active and informed global citizens.

Today’s students are the next generation of business, political and community leaders and entrepreneurs. There is a necessity to shape the way in which they understand, prepare for, and respond to the world’s challenges both now and in the future… And this calls for the inclusion of character education and values-based learning within the academic program and throughout all aspects of school life.

Research has shown that students’ capacities beyond academic learning of knowledge and skills are important predictors of achievement, and that it proves useful once in the workforce. While knowledge and skills may or may not be used in future jobs, character qualities will invariably be applicable to a wide range of professions. (Character Education for the 21st Century).

Round Square schools are characterised by a shared belief in an approach to education built around six themes, or IDEALS – International Understanding, Democracy, Environmental Stewardship, Adventure, Leadership and Service. Ultimately, we want our students to understand that whatever field of work or career they enter into, with a spirit of the Round Square Ideals they can – and should – make a positive difference in the world.

As a member of Round Square, we can access and leverage the potential benefits to our students of connecting with a community of like-minded schools on an international scale. Round Square recognises that effective character education is not a series of isolated experiences, but a sustained approach to teaching and learning that is supported, enhanced and brought to life through planned, integrated, projects, exchanges and adventures.

Students in Years 5 to12 have the opportunity to take part in age-appropriate local, regional and global conferences that bring them together with peers from different countries to share perspectives, debate topical issues, forge friendships, support local communities, and develop international understanding.

Senior students can apply to participate in a Round Square International Service Project. These bring together participants from other Round Square schools all over the world to work together in truly international teams in support of communities in need. Recent projects have taken place in Nepal, Tanzania, Vietnam and Ecuador. There are also exchange opportunities that enable students to study at another Round Square school for a short period of time, bringing a new global perspective into their lives.

In the Primary School, the ideals of Round Square are embedded in the emerging i-Impact units.  The entrepreneurial focus of these units can be further defined through the lens of environmentalism or service, for example. As students learn through designing solutions for real world problems, they are developing values and attitudes to build character beyond the classroom.

In addition, dispositions or discoveries as they are known in Round Square describe the attitudes, attributes, skills and values developed and explored by students as they engage with the Round Square Ideals. Many of the 12 discoveries are part of everyday learning in the Primary School such as problem solving, compassion, team work and responsibility and are clearly aligned to our College values and students’ ‘Approach to Learning’.  Other discoveries such as diversity and inquisitiveness will require intentional integration into curricula and extra-curricular activities for our students to build understanding and develop the skills associated with each discovery.

Our Strategic Plan’s guiding statements emphasise that we ‘educate for excellence in learning and life’ and that we value courage, respect, compassion and integrity. As a member of Round Square, it is exciting to be a part of something bigger. Through the exposure to and experience with the ideals and discoveries, particularly at a primary age, students will benefit deeply from the experiences they engage with in their secondary years and beyond.

As Kurt Hahn said: There is more in us than we know.

 

Debbie Planck | Head of Teaching and Learning, Primary

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