What defines a successful person? That might at first glance seem a ‘no brainer’. Success is often perceived as having wealth, power and popularity. However, there are many aspects that go towards making a person successful. In an academic sense, it may be deemed to be A grades which is of course, hard to reason against. However, I would argue that achieving high grades is only one aspect of academic success. As Mrs Johnston has written about previously, learning and improvement is equally valued at Girls Grammar. To that, I would also add the ability to think creatively is a highly important quality. I have had the pleasure to teach a great many students in my time in education. I have taught mathematics in primary schools, secondary schools and at university. I have seen highly competent students who are able to reproduce learnt work with great accuracy and understanding. I have also seen those who have pushed through to master a deeper understanding of mathematics and who have been able to draw deep connections between topics. These are moments I have valued greatly. However, what I have valued most is the ability of students to think creatively about mathematics. I am delighted when a student presents a solution to a problem in a way that I have never previously considered. Creative thinkers do not constrain themselves to learnt procedures and knowledge but rather build upon them to form their own original thoughts and ideas. Many might consider creativity to be an inbuilt trait that you are either born with or not. I would argue that like all aspects of academia, creativity may come more naturally to some than others but that does not mean that it can’t be learnt. The recent debate about cost increases for Arts based degrees at university is a complex one. Some degrees have increased in cost to offset other higher demand areas. However, what the debate has served to highlight are the strengths of an Arts based education. The Arts foster and encourage creativity that transfers to other aspects of academia. It is a well-established fact that there is a significant link between musical and mathematical thinking and high achieving students in one area are often equally successful in the other. This term, we will be giving current Year 7 to 10 students the opportunity to make elective subject selections for 2021. I strongly encourage all students to think carefully about their choices and of course to pursue their areas of passion. As part of that process, I encourage students to at least consider how the Arts may fit into their curriculum choices and how that may help them improve their creative ability.
Dr John Fry
Deputy Principal - Studies