The Foundations of Learning

Author: Tyson Kenny, Deputy Principal

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

Luke 6:46-48

This week’s bible passage is the perfect message for all students at the start of the school year to learn and apply in their lives.  As most of us know, achieving well as a learner takes a great deal of hard work and determination.  Sure, advanced general knowledge and having a high level of intelligence would be helpful, but a foundation of regular study habits and learning routines are by far the greatest ingredient in order to be a successful student.

I remember a few years ago encouraging students to ‘get the little things right’, as this then allows the bigger things in life to not seem so insurmountable.  I’m confident that in a few years from now, I will still be sharing a message like this with students.

As we learn in life, change is inevitable; however, during our lives, we also come to know and understand that certain things never change.  It’s these things, like the importance of hard work, which can be easy to know, but sometimes difficult to always apply.

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For students this year, I hope they can, bit by bit, and just like the message of building a house, slowly take the time and energy to build and develop their study habits.  Not everyone has the ability to achieve an ‘A’, well at least not straightaway; however, everyone has the ability to control their choices when they enter a classroom or sit down at home to complete homework.  When entering a classroom, those that enter with a mindset to do their best, answer as many questions and indeed ask questions themselves, are laying the foundations to be a successful learner.   

To be a successful student, there also needs to be a level of commitment demonstrated outside of the classroom when at home.  I fully agree that students need to also have a certain level of downtime and social interaction outside of school hours; however, their progress as a learner  should not only be confined to the 5 hours of curriculum they complete on a school day for 40 weeks of the year.

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Homework does not necessarily have to be completing more questions that were done in class again and again.  It can also be completing general research into interesting things which are currently being learned, practising new skills, reading up on different and competing theories, sharing new knowledge with family or friends, or working on an item of assessment.  Perhaps homework should be rephrased to ‘home learning’ and completed by every student whether or not they are specifically told by their teachers that day that they have certain homework (or home learning) to complete.

It is clear that to be a successful learner, which certainly has not changed in my lifetime, students need to develop strong foundations of consistent study habits, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Those that do, and are prepared to do their best day-by-day, class-by-class, have the greatest opportunity for fulfil their God given potential.

I encourage all students this year to embrace every learning activity or task as an opportunity to develop as a learner.  Those that do will not only strengthen their foundation as a learner, but also broaden their future prospects in life, both during and post their secondary education.