I love photography. I grew up taking photos with my Dad’s camera and eventually bought my own Minolta SLR, both of which used film. There was that anticipation in waiting for the 24 or 36 photos in print from the local store, often times to only find that some of the photos did not turn out as expected.

Then came the digital camera. What a revolution for the avid photographer! I am now free to experiment, craft and edit my photography without the limitations of film. I can be the picture storyteller I love to be as a photographer.

Did you know that the first digital camera was invented by Kodak in 1975! However, Kodak was worried about protecting their film business, and missed the opportunity to move successfully into the digital age. “Unfortunately, the company had the nearsighted view that it was in the film business instead of the story telling business” (Forbes, online, Jan 2012). Kodak missed asking the right question and now have sold off any connections to cameras and photography, and only exist as a printing enterprise for business.

What is the right question to ask about education in the 21st Century? What are schools about in 2019? Are schools there to teach subjects, to impart information? Do we teach skills? Is our role to prepare students for their ATAR? Are we preparing students for their future vocation in the workplace?

For example, did you know that only approximately one quarter of all university students gain entrance via their ATAR? The Mitchell Institute reported that the ATAR is becoming less and less relevant as a tool for university entrance. This includes school students applying to universities.

If this is the case, what is our future role as a school, given that schools, families and media have placed a great deal of emphasis on structures, curriculum and methodologies to support gaining an ATAR and on academic success to get the highest possible ATAR for university entrance?

Without the constraints of prescribed curriculum, what would schools do to enhance the development of life-long capabilities in our students? Capabilities, more than specific information, will serve them better at university, in the workplace, in community activities and as valuable citizens of the global society. This is the new growing focus of SACE.

We will continue to value appropriate content and encourage students to strive for their best, but will the focus in education remain what we as a society have become accustomed to for a long time? We don’t want to be a ‘Kodak’ school and miss the opportunity.

This week the SACE Board has confirmed their renewed focus on the Research Project as a valued part of student’s learning. The subject will be reviewed from its current format but is confirmed as remaining an important component of the SACE.

Additionally the SACE Review conducted last year recommended the need for reduced content so that students can focus on deeper learning and opportunities to specifically develop the capabilities. In the SACE, these capabilities include creative and critical thinking, personal and social capabilities, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding.

Cornerstone College’s focus on the 6Cs (creativity, communication, connection, collaboration, critical thinking and control of learning) in Middle School supports and flows into the SACE capabilities in the Senior School.
We will continue to develop richer and deeper understandings as to how to develop these skills in classes. Hopefully the ongoing focus on these in the wider educational world will result in decisions that reduce the current crammed curriculum and allow students to explore their capabilities in greater depth.

It is not about dropping the content completely, but rather having a focus that allows students to explore their own deeper learning to develop core capabilities that will take them into their futures.

We await with interest the ongoing developments at SACE and in the tertiary sector, as the value of the ATAR is reconsidered and, hopefully, other meaningful measures are put in place to support those students who do wish to do further study.