What Skills Do Our Girls Need?
The co-curricular programs at St Catherine’s School provide opportunities and experiences to enhance the development of the whole student, complementing the skills learned in the classroom. Each program provides a different environment for our girls to thrive, by empowering and nurturing independent, globally responsive students who approach all endeavours with empathy, integrity, commitment and determination. In the digital age, the ease of accessing information at our fingertips has increased our ability to gain information, work more efficiently and effectively, and to do more in the time that we have in our day. Whilst this easy access to information is convenient, there is still the requirement for young people to gain skills and experiences beyond the classroom. Opportunities for our girls to develop resilience, empathy and curiosity by challenging themselves to step outside their comfort zone in a supportive and safe environment, opens the gateway to learn through goal setting, success and failure.
The variety of co-curricular choices at St Catherine’s provide avenues for our students to pursue their interests, talents and passions, whilst finding their place in our community. The journey through these programs provides students with the learning experience through persistence, practice and failure. Each program scaffolds the learning of each skill through three stages:
Engagement provides the opportunity for our girls to sample different programs and opportunities, such as participating in the Years 7 and 8 Musical, Cinderella, where students are empowered to understand and respect their craft, collaborate in the creative process, problem solve, and find their voice and role within a team of students from across the School. Students will sample from a variety of sports on offer prior to specialising in a specific sport. St Catherine’s girls are renowned for engaging and excelling in a variety of sporting areas, each sport complementing the requirements for the opportunities on offer for the next term. This is seen in our Rowers, who participate in Running Group, Cross Country, Athletics and Snowsports, which helps to prepare them for the next Rowing season.
Acquire provides the opportunity for students to have success in the journey by acquiring skills, working towards a goal and achieving at each stage of the journey. Music AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) examinations provide a great example of this, by students practicing and accomplishing each stage of their journey through their chosen musical instrument. Our Debating teams work with their coaches and mentors in preparing their speeches for each debate, a skill that is acquired through their ongoing engagement and preparation after each debate, with feedback and feedforward, and the knowledge of how they have reached their next goal or debate.
As skills are developed and built over time in a certain activity, this provides the opportunity for girls to Excel. We often find this occurs later in their Senior School life, as the stages of the skill are built upon, and there is further development in the next phase of skill building, allowing for further growth and exposure to more challenging situations. Finding an activity where students are engaged and have had some level of success through accomplishment, often leads to students specialising in their chosen field.
At the age of nine, Year 10 St Catherine’s student, Mayuri Muralidharan, was given the opportunity to try something new. She was invited to participate in Fencing. Having enjoyed the engagement activities in her younger years, including swimming, diving, ballet and Indian classical dance, she started Fencing training, leading to competing in local competitions. Mayuri learned from a very early stage in her Fencing endeavours that success does not come easily and requires hard work. In her first club and state competitions, she learned that success is not instant and comes with persistence, personal endeavour and aspiration. Learning a skill requires the continuous cycle of Learning, Feedback and Success, then repeating this cycle over and over again, to continue to improve to achieve a goal, requiring persistence.
With the assistance of Mayuri’s coach, she learned how to improve her technique in small sections, by training and then mastering each component of the skill. When one component was mastered, she moved onto the next stage, with the guidance from her coach. Mayuri learned that mastering each component could take anywhere from two to eights weeks and for the movement to become second nature. Mayuri’s training requires her to have technical training, strength and conditioning and mental conditioning, in readiness for each competition. Mayuri has seen that her progress in Fencing has been a learning journey, with each skill, competition and element of her development leading onto the next stage allowing her to compete in different competitions, now competing in the Open World Championships.
With an aspiration to go to the Olympics, Mayuri continues to strive to balance her training, competition and school work. You can listen to an interview I conducted with Mayuri here.
Through the co-curricular opportunities at St Catherine’s School, from the Early Learning Centre to Year 12, as a School we have prioritised five areas learned through our programs:
- Resilience and Persistence
- Confidence and Responsibility
- Critical Thinking and Cultural Learning
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Personal Endeavour and Aspiration.
These essential skills are so valuable in the journey our girls take as they learn through each stage of their schooling, university studies and careers.
Preparing St Catherine’s girls for a future that allows for the instantaneous gaining of knowledge through the digital age comes with a complementary set of skills, where our girls understand how to gain mastery and achievement through hard work and deliberate practice. In each of their goals, gaining feedback and knowledge from their teachers, coaches and respected others in preparation for their final goal, is a vital skill in life.
Our co-curricular programs expose students to a range of experiences to develop their personal and social capabilities.