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10

the ruyton reporter

Debating

and

Forums?

As the Debating and Forums Captain for 2015 I am

so excited to share with you the way the role has

been expanded this year. In the past the Debating

Captain has assisted the Co-ordinator of the

Debating Programme, Mr Zavattiero, with

mentoring the students in the DAV debating team

and running the debates. From 2015 the role also

encompasses the Forums’ component, organising

guest speakers to come to Ruyton and deliver a

‘Forum’ on a special topic. These Forums are held for

a predominantly Year 11 and 12 student audience,

as a means by which to foster the debate of ideas

within Ruyton and to broaden students’

experiences of different world views and opinions.

It is beneficial to both VCE studies and, more

generally, to our conceptions of important and

contentious issues, to hear informed opinions from

people with specialist backgrounds. This is what the

Forums aim to do. Each speaker provides a focused

speech on an area about which they are passionate.

Prior to the Forum the year level students are

invited to work together to draft questions for the

speaker to address on the day, in the style of the

Q&A

television programme.

At our inaugural Forumwe heard from the

Honourable Justice Sally Brown AM. Sally has a

distinguished career in the law as a former Chief

Magistrate (the first female Chief Magistrate) and

long-time Justice of the Family Court. For her topic

Sally chose,

‘Speaking Up, Speaking Out: or finding

your voice and using it for good however

uncomfortable or unfashionable the topic.’

Sally’s

years in family lawmeant she was able to give an

insightful and authentic take on the role of women

in the law, as well as to explain howwe can all

stand up for each other when one of us is

experiencing harassment, discrimination or other

forms of bullying behaviour.

Sally’s address was honest and open, and so too

were the questions posed to her by our students:

questions such as, ‘howmuch control does the law

have in protecting women?’ and ‘what should you

do if you suspect a friend is being treated

disrespectfully by a partner?’ showed that students

were not only taking advantage of the opportunity

to hear Sally’s perspective, but also that they had a

maturity and thoughtfulness in line with what

Ruyton wants to be able to provide for its upper-

level students.

The feedback I received from the student body

following the first Forumwas overwhelmingly

positive and illustrated howworthwhile this

amendment to the role has been. It never

ceases to amaze me how our Ruyton learning

community responds so positively to such thought-

provoking dialogue and discussion of ideas.

Laura Marshall,

Debating and Forums Captain 2015

Winning Life’s Lottery

This year, Ruyton engaged the services of the not-for-

profit, secular organisation, High Resolves, to conduct

a series of workshops with our Year 7 and 8 cohorts, as a

way of reinforcing the consciousness-raising engendered

by our school-wide Community Service programme.

In March, parents of Year 7 students may remember their

daughters coming home with exciting snippets about

their highly interactive morning, in which they explored

the notions of individual identity and acceptance of

others’ differences.

Following the first session on the theme of Identity

that was conducted in March for the Year 7s, Tess from

7MZH wrote,

‘…I enjoyed the interactive games… I would

definitely recommend this programme because it helps

kids understand their identities.’

The concluding section of the Year 7 workshop focused

on famous people who had overcome adversity in their

lives to achieve great things. The girls rushed about the

room, piecing together a jig-saw puzzle that focused on

‘riding out’ life’s lows and working back towards its highs.

The girls shared their personal strategies for resilience in

enlightening and often amusing ways.

Nicola from 7PBR observed,

‘[The] workshop was effective

and interesting and above all, we learnt about each other,

which is vital for us to understand one another. I learnt…

new ways to persevere through the rough times and make

the good times even better. I learnt about how to support

my friends through their decisions and to help them.’

Next, it was the Year 8’s turn and their programme

concluded in June with a series of games designed to

raise consciousness about global inequity in terms

of access to adequate food, shelter and education.

Rather than lecturing the students about the

privileges we Australians enjoy by virtue of where we

live, the presenter, Ms Laura Myer, set the girls a series

of activities designed to provoke self-discovery and

reflection.

Early in the session, Laura told the girls a little about her

history, the countries she had visited and the exciting

things she had done, such as parachuting and bungee

jumping, adding that the highlight of her life thus far had

been ‘winning the lottery’! There were a few surprised

looks but Laura moved straight on to set up a game

where the girls were issued with ‘passports’ at random to

‘countries’ as diverse as Burundi and the United Kingdom.

The point of the game was to ‘work’ as hard as possible

(performing burpees) in five minutes to earn the income

points needed to purchase basic items, such as housing

and food. A very interesting discussion followed, with

students commenting on the unfairness of receiving

starvation wages simply because they happened to be

allocated a passport to Afghanistan or Burundi, rather

than the United States or The Netherlands. Laura then

called for quiet and returned to her earlier theme, asking,

‘So who else in this room has won life’s lottery?’

There was

a brief silence and then a murmur rippled around the

room as the realisation dawned that nothing but luck

– an accident of birth – had determined their access to

regular meals, a warm house and a wonderful education.

Through simulation games such as these, the students’

awareness of global inequity was raised, as diverse points

of viewwere aired. Thanks to the mentoring of the Year 11

students who had given up their study leave to lead the

groups, the Year 8 students were able to listen and speak

repeatedly on the great issues of our time.

It was a very thought-provoking programme and one

that we hope may have sparked follow-up conversations

at home about small, practical measures to help those

many millions who have not

‘drawn a lucky ticket in

life’s lottery’.

The High Resolves programme has been an excellent

fit with Ruyton’s own Community Service Programme.

The highly interactive format ensured that a broad

spectrum of views was shared on the issues that confront

this new generation. If the idealism and sense of natural

justice exhibited by our girls during this programme are

anything to go by, we should face the future with a good

deal of optimism.

Mr Paul Upperton,

Leadership Co-ordinator

Optimistic Initiatives