Hello Candlebarkians (to coin a phrase from Ian),
Please enjoy the stories and photos in Issue 10 (Wow! Double digits!) of 'The Bark'.
If you have anything you would like to contribute to future issues of 'The Bark' please feel free to email me; firstname.lastname@example.org
See you at Soiree!
Jane Cahill - Editor In Chief
- Marco Polo - End of Year School production
- The Candlebarkians - Bendigo Bank Fun Run
- Chess Report - Junior & Middle Years State Finals
- Profile of an Effective Teacher
- Candlebark Fencing Team at the Victorian State Championships
- Notes from the Camp Out at Candlebark - 28 October
- Community Notices
Marco Polo - End of Year School Production
We've chosen the story of Marco Polo for our 2017 end of year production, and written a play based on his life and travels.
It is a remarkable story, an East-meets-West encounter, underlaid by issues involving fake news – during Marco Polo's lifetime, the book about his travels was colloquially known as 'a million lies', even though much of it is/was verifiably true.
The production is scheduled for Monday night, December 11, at Candlebark. However, because much of it will be staged outdoors, please keep Tuesday night, December 12, free as well, in case of a rain delay.
There will be eight simultaneous performances of the play at different points around the campus, so you get to choose the one you want to watch – which no doubt will be the one your child/children is/are in! There will then be a "Grand Finale" on the tennis court, which will involve all the students.
Of course there will be more details later, but this is just a notification so you can add it to your Christmas diary :-)
The Candlebarkians - Bendigo Bank Fun Run
Well done to the ‘Candlebarkians’ who participated alongside over 2,200 runners and walkers in the 2017 Bendigo Bank Fun Run.
The enthusiastic group got into the spirit of the day and enjoyed the music and entertainment that was on offer around the course as well as a meet and greet with Spiderman!
100% of funds raised through participant registrations are allocated to the New Bendigo Hospital Appeal and will purchase specialised medical equipment that is used throughout Bendigo Health. With a servicing region that covers a quarter of Victoria, from Gisborne in the South, Echuca in the North, Kyabram in the North East and Mildura in the far North West it is one of the busiest hospitals in the regional area.
Thank you all for the early morning start and being part of the first Candlebark team entry, you did a great job!
- Amanda Lonergan
Chess Report - Junior & Middle Years State Finals
Wow! Junior and Middle Years State Finals. Here we are again, a happy déjà vu, with a reasonably new bunch of kids on their first step of major chess championships. There are 80 junior players, and 140 middle years, so it’s quite an intimidating atmosphere. It’s Wantirna, it’s the Hungarian Community centre: it’s on!
The same warm up speech, not just from me, but also from Tim. Slow down, think…etc etc.
The kids are sat. It’s 10.21 and we started our team journey at Candlebark at 7.45.
Jimmy four moved. I’m such a bad father…. We walk back to the snacks, shamed, but both stronger for the experience! Anthony on the other side of the coin with a cheeky four mover. He goes off with Jimmy to coach him through the defence. Awesome.
Will disappointed with a half point. Red, Sev and Sasha with tough wins. Eva up against one of those speed openers, loses.
Ilario stuck in a real battle, the others having all started with losses. This is top end stuff.
A few quick wins dribble in. Sev under pressure, Anthony being pulled apart, Sasha hunting, Jimmy overthinking, Eva cautious, Banjo focussed. They’re all under pressure but pushing themselves. Anthony succumbs, Sasha succeeds, nobody sucks: they’re all little champions! I can patronise them now, they’ll be beating me in a couple of years….
I’m nagging the young ones to take off their Macedon Ranges layers, it’s hot in here, and they need to drink water and run around. And to the older kids to channel their inner
Ilario mooches off to play a 900 ranked player. He returns a little later all light and fluffy. A win.
Jimmy has yet to win, and after two losses, is facing a kid with a 700 ranking. Go figure. There are some very nervous moves being made here. Today is about exposing the juniors to the pressure of the top tournament in preparation for next year’s finals, when most of them will be grade 4s.
Marlo losing by a pawn comes back with a steamrolling win, and is congratulated by Candlebarkian onlookers.
Martin loses a rook on purpose, then wins four moves later with two bishops and a knight. Marlo hits a wall, loses. Jimmy finally lets me breathe. Ilario fighting hard for a promoted pawn, and hopefully a win. Dan picks up another too.
Some of the younger players are feeling it: the pressure to succeed, to keep up with the `how many wins have you got?’. Mitch is being a major help, making them exercise, preparing the meals, having a practice.
Everyone has some points. It’s very hard to get two wins on the trot, such is the standard today. I’m slightly emotional, watching these fledglings learn to fly.
Anthony with a 5 move variation of the 4 move. Sasha a quick win: he knows he should have won the previous one, but for cockiness. Phoenix draws on table 11, he’s pretty chuffed. Henry is gutted to lose his game, but it’s down to his speed (I wondered whether he was on a speed completion bonus as I watched.) Excited wins for Jimmy n Banjo. A hard fought draw from Red. Excellent stuff. Sev one move from checkmate, is thwarted on table 7. Will, with a very social game, beats a strong player. What a round!!
Ilario’s opponent resigns after seeing that his time was on 13 seconds left. The other onlookers looked as disappointed as the opponent.
Well, I’ll just say we’re doing a lot better than I expected. (Half a point off third)
There’s some pretty tired chess players out there. Some very strange board positions. Phoenix first back with a loss. I can’t begin to describe a couple of the games I’m watching: multiple queens, missed pins, no pawns, and that’s just Jimmy’s game. He gets a draw from being 3 queens down….?!?. It’s chaos with the younger kids all regressing to the point of flipping a coin for a result. An old adage in chess is that the winner is the one who makes the second last mistake. Never a truer word said. This, as a chess “coach”, is killing me.
I knew I’d jinxed us.
Red and Will fight to the end, but are up against some strong players at this point of the day. It’s exhausting, we’re all exhausted, spent, tired, done.
We’ve finished one and a half points off third, which is frankly brilliant. The team is a mix of young and really young. Half of them will go on to the “senior” primary tournament, whilst the other half will see us right next year. It’s exciting, and we’re all incredibly proud of the kids’ efforts and bravery and resilience and good humour and support of one another.
And the Middle Years kids, all four of them! They finish eleventh in the state!!! Unbelievable!!
I know it’s “only a game”, but it’s such a glance, such a moment, of seeing how someone reacts in the face of adversity. And how they treat each other, and themselves, when it’s not all going to plan: They are all champions! So proud!
- Andy Moffatt
Profile of an Effective Teacher
In order to discuss the effectiveness of art teacher Basil Eliades, you have to understand the uniqueness of the school where he teaches art for year 7 to 12s. The Alice Miller School is a private, alternative secondary school with a focus on the arts. With less than 100 students, the staff are able to develop behavior management issues and facilitates the school’s learning philosophy that is aligned with learner centered, constructivist educational ideals and the writings of education expert Sir Ken Robinson. There is no staff room at this school, staff and students integrate at break times and develop the holistic type of relationships that are favorable to learning according to Dewey’s constructivist theories on education (Bohonos, 2017). There is no yard duty roster, instead the teachers are essentially on duty all the time, however, the students behave in a mature fashion and they are treated as adults. Staff eat and relax with the students in the common cafeteria, which has more of a university campus cafe feeling than that of a conventional high school. Another feature of the school is that breakfast and lunch is provided, buffet style, for students and teachers. Students take turns in preparing food and cleaning up. Healthy snack foods and beverages are actually available at any time of day. The catering is an attractive bonus to the job, if you have the time to eat! Basil’s schedule is jam packed on this day.
When I walk into the classroom in the morning before classes begin, Basil is having a meeting with a colleague about a student. Basil’s day will involve, back to back sessions, with no morning tea or lunch break. Though he will manage to slip out from time to time and eat his lunch in the classroom while continuing to participate in his role as art teacher. The classroom is in creative chaos, artworks and props are piled at the entrance. Books and paperwork clutter Basil’s desk; which is his only office in the corner of the classroom. Art works in progress are set up around the room. Large oil paintings on boards, are stacked against cupboards and on easels. The haphazard setup though, represents a very productive and inspired studio environment. A wall is covered in art posters and shelves are brimming with art books. We make our way to another classroom for a quick pre-class rehearsal of a reading that Basil is doing of his recently published book. Accompanied by live cello, the reading is to be performed on the following evening at a school function. Other extra-curricular roles for Basil include; year 10 mentor/coordinator, martial arts instructor for lunchtime training once a week and a higher than average amount of supervising school excursions, trips and camps, including weekend sleepovers at the school for such things as art making weekends. He also complies with the traditional jobs that are expected of art teachers like making props and scenery for the school production.
Basil’s full timetable of lessons on this particular day are run with no formal structure, there is no introduction or conclusion in any lesson, nor any visible planning. There are no bells at this school and the students seemed to flow in and out for each session seamlessly. The classroom is busy and productive all day including throughout lunchtime. Despite the lack of any obvious structure, Basil’s active presence maintains the creative atmosphere in the classroom. Although he is working with smaller class sizes, he has to teach different year levels and juggle different art study classes at the same time. The students work independently and Basil finds his way around the room, spending time with each student. Guided by what the student has in front of them, Basil would engage them in the development of problems as well as their solutions. Like Thompson’s (2015) version of exemplary constructivist practices in art education, Basil would be interacting, suggesting, observing, and responding to students' activities and expressions of understanding or confusion. Then he would leave them to their own resources, in order for them to experience and learn from their own processes. Students are free to grab their own supplies from the storeroom without asking, though Basil monitors the use of materials carefully. He is everywhere at once, he operates spontaneously and intuitively, nonstop, all day, continuously shifting his focus in order to meet the differing needs of each student. His intense energy and enthusiasm for ideas, combined with his extensive knowledge of fine art contributes to the effectiveness of his teaching. His substantial experience as an artist and art teacher allows him to teach instinctively and the students respond with reverence to his authority on any given subject. He is also a genuine and caring person and the sincere relationships that he develops with his students is a very important aspect to his effectiveness as a teacher. I was also able to observe signs of diligent professional teaching practices regarding his respect for the curriculum outcomes, by seeing that he incorporated key curriculum concepts in the classroom. For example: Work plans on the wall, research tasks are checked on and assessment procedures were under way.
Basil’s teaching style is indicative of constructivist education theories, which is focused on the development of a student’s knowledge being constructed within themselves, from their own experiences (Thompson, 2015). I was aware of Basil’s meaningful interactions with his students being a distinctive quality of constructivist teachers who make a genuine effort to seek out important content (Cole 2012, p.12). Freedman discusses that in constructivist theory it is disequilibrium which facilitates learning. I saw that Basil encouraged his students to consider abstract concepts. Freedman believes it is reflective abstraction that is the driving force of learning (2003, p.80). I observed that Basil, would lean towards broaching the big concepts with his students. For example: a student was drawing pomegranates for no particular reason except that she liked the look of them. He proceeded to challenge the student to research and consider the significance of her subject, he engaged her in a discussion about mythology and Adam and Eve, making links to Picasso, Cubism and its significance to Modernism. Then he left that student with a lot of open ended questions and moved on to the next student, who was developing an installation idea, Basil encouraged him to consider theories of figure/ground relationships. Constructivist teachers pose important questions, they encourage conversation, and allow risk-taking in learning without penalty (Cole,2012, p.11). Basil would tend to ask high order questions, provoking deeper thinking in his students. Cole points out that constructivist teachers form positive relationships with their students and involve them in setting the rules and structure of the classroom (2012, p.11). The absence of a prepared lesson plan allows students to take control of their own processes and they are trusted to make their own way.
The way that Basil teaches, reflects the writing of contemporary educational expert Sir Ken Robinson, who pinpoints the four main roles of what he calls “expert teachers” (2015, p.104), they engage, enable, expect and empower. I observed that all of those same qualities were in effect throughout Basil’s day. Robinson declared that “In place of offering answers to questions they haven’t asked, expert teachers provoke questions in students so they are inspired to explore them” (2015, p.107). Basil was encouraging and empowering to the students, he expected a high level of work from them and they responded with enthusiasm. He was continually changing his approach with each new encounter. Robinson maintains that “effective teaching is a constant process of adjustment, judgement and responding to the energy and engagement of the students” (2015, p.106). Basil sees his role more as a type of mentor for the students, which he told me was a key factor in his teaching practice. Robinson said that “The best teachers are not only instructors. They are mentors and guides who can raise the confidence in their students, help them find a sense of direction, and empower them to believe in themselves” (2015, p.109).
As a mature teacher, Basil is able to be himself and fulfill his role expertly. He thinks on his feet and moves fluidly throughout the classroom, delivering effective self-constructed learning opportunities to students. His ability to interweave all of the demands placed on him in the art classroom and beyond is grounded in his substantial knowledge of fine art and his experience in teaching as well as his unerring enthusiasm towards his pupils.
- Patricia Taylor (Student teacher)
Candlebark Fencing Team at the Victorian State Championships
On Sunday, November 5th young fencers competed in the Victorian State Championships. Victoria has the largest participation in fencing in Australia and on Sunday some of the top fencers in the country from a dozen local clubs came out to compete. They were divided into age groups of Under-9s, Under-11s and Under-13s.
Candlebark was represented by:
U-9 Fencers: Chris Meuller, Ollie Mann, Sevryn Danilov and Ofek Danilov, and
U-11 Fencers: Reuben Cahill, Harry Pearce and Sevryn Danilov.
Very keen to get there (and somewhat disappointed there is no one left to beat) Sevryn was the last man standing in the field of about 20 swordfighters. Moving with ease, setting up tricky hits, adapting to suit his opponents' game - sometimes playing cat and mouse, sometimes pushing forward with strong attacks (chess influence??) Sev grinded his way to a decisive 10-4 win in the final. Gold medal.
For Chris, Ollie and Ofek it was their first and a tough entrée into a world of competitive fencing. Each one learnt from the day’s competition, improving along the way and gaining valuable experience.
Chris held himself in the manner of a mature fencer who has been there plenty of times. He looked good on the piste, was well balanced in his posture and attitude.
During the previous Friday's Clubs fencing session, I could see a sparkle light up in Ollies' eyes when he heard that his good friend Chris will be competing on Sunday. I did not hesitate to invite Ollie to participate in Sunday’s event, based on his hard work ethic and his desire to understand the not so simple game of foil fencing. For Ollie, this competition may have been an early throw into the deep end; however he fought right through to the end. Never mind scoring a few hits throughout the whole event. In my eyes, that saw him pick up a sword only 3 weeks prior, Ollie came out number 1, a champion. Three thumbs up.
Ofek, followed his brothers' example of entering his first competition as early as at 5 circles around the sun. He held his sword strong, showed good skills in defence and moved like a butterfly. Stinging like a bee is yet to come, however he has three more years in the Under-9s to work on that one.
Harry was up against some strong (and rough) opponents. Playing with energy and light on his feet, he got hit hard... on the same spot twice. That saw him retire to the bosses' office for an ice pack, in what looked like an early ending. After an encouraging chat with the top knobs of Fencing Victoria, Harry emerged determined to not let the pain cut his losses early. Harry has plenty of potential as proven by his Gold at the last event (Novice level) a few months back.
Utilising strategy and observation, in a show of force and determination, Reuben fought his way into quarter finals, finishing in well-respected 5th place against the best in the state. Reuben lifted his performance to a new level.
The Macedon Ranges Fencers Club (M.R.F.C) has an established Junior and Adult training sessions, with Fencers from 8 years right through to 65 years of age. Skill level is not an important. If you want to give Fencing a go, we have all the suits and swords required, so just let us know when you would like to give it a try, or register on our website - www.allstar-australia.com/mrfc
- Aleksey Danilov - Candlebark / Alice Miller Fencing Coach
Notes from the Camp Out at Candlebark - 28 October
It is with much excitement that we await the arrival of the mighty fine bunch of people who have chosen to join us for the first ever Camp Out at Candlebark for school families.
Before long, a steady stream of happy campers drop their gear at the vehicle shuttle before setting off on foot to the campsite beyond the old Wignall’s cottage. It’s awesome to see some of the youngest kids proudly setting off with their very own backpacks. The sense of adventure is palpable as families of all shapes and sizes embark on a shared journey.
For most of the kids, the path is a familiar one. For everyone else, a collection of signs with red arrows marks the way. The path climbs first steadily uphill, then steeply uphill. Occasionally the bush is filled with glorious sunshine, making it a delightful wander.
Upon reaching the crest of the climb, walkers are warmly welcomed by those already there. Flags and fairy lights are strung between the trees. A festive atmosphere abounds.
There are hot drinks and cold drinks and a wonderful supply of Fiona's finest sweet treats - lemon slice, hedgehog and banana bread. After a scrumptious afternoon tea, people busily go about setting up tents, swags, tarps, hammocks, picnic rugs, and chairs by the fire.
For at least one family, this is the first time they have camped together. For another, the camp out provides a chance to discover some of the places they have heard so much about from their child. Many people are struck by the beauty of the bush beyond the grassy green slopes of Candlebark. The last family to arrive are so keen to be there that they carry all their gear and a small child up the hill by themselves. We are thrilled that they and so many other people have made the effort to come along to this historic event. There are close to 100 people at the camp out.
Afternoon slowly merges into evening. People play games, share stories, and explore the surrounding bush. A bunch of kids go trick or treating around the tent village with considerable success.
The BBQs are started and dinner soon follows. Although a wonderful spread awaits the cheerful campers, there is no real rush to reach it. Everyone seems pretty comfortable doing whatever it is they are doing.
The toasting of marshmallows fills the gap between dinner and dusk. We collect warm blankets and sleeping bags and gather for the twilight cinema experience. In a moment similar to a famous Michael Leunig cartoon, the setting sun paints the sky pink and red while the film ‘Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants’ begins on the big screen.
Among the many joys of camping is sleeping under the stars on a perfectly still night. It would be hard to imagine a more perfect evening than the one that has embraced us for the camp out. A sea of tents is momentarily illuminated by torchlight. The buzzing of zips and the rustling of sleeping bags is soon followed by a deep and peaceful silence.
Far off in the distance, the glow of city lights can be seen. Closer to home, the warm glow of the campfire flickers across a final few faces until just after midnight.
The kids easily outnumber the parents early the next morning. Before long there is hot water for tea and cheese toasties for growing appetites. We pack slowly while thinking how nice it would be to stay another night, or even longer. To explore further. To further appreciate the wonderful simplicity and contentment that comes with camping in the bush.
The return journey is far easier than the outbound journey - it’s all downhill and everyone now knows the way. This can only be a good thing, for we hope to return to this place again in the future. As we unload the final trailer of camping gear, one content kid finds a perfect patch of grass on which to read a book. He looks relaxed, unhurried, and completely in the moment - a final reminder of the value of being in the bush with our families.
A special thanks to a few people who went above and beyond what we asked of them, as they so often do: thanks Fiona, Mike, Mitchell, Ollie, Luke, Murray, Kate, Wendy P, Sarah, Steve, Krista, and Aleksey. Thanks to John for allowing a hundred people to camp out at Candlebark. Thanks to Rikki, Raina, Donna and Dave for sharing your photos. And finally, thanks to everyone who made the effort to join us for an evening in the bush at Candlebark.
- Sam Ford