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Co-curricular: A Place of Deep Learning

As communicated through various College publications, Co-curricular is considered a core contributor to student formation. It is one of the central pillars – alongside Faith and Service, Pastoral and Academic – that underpins development of the whole person. To date I have written about various benefits, particularly those related to character and social-emotional skills, that students gain from Co-curricular involvement. However, this does not negate the value of learning and developing excellence in the craft of a Co-curricular activity.

There is much great learning that occurs within our Curriculum spaces, but there is also great learning occurring in our Co-curricular spaces that we should not undervalue. The article below, “What is the secret sauce for deeper learning?” draws attention to some of these components of Co-curricular which ensure these activities and sports are not only rich in learning for those involved, but also for understanding what makes a learning experience valuable:

The Co-curricular features of depth over breadth, student choice and authentic audience facilitate the identity, mastery and creativity required for meaningful and lasting learning. As stated in the article “One place that was a consistent source of deep learning was what Fine and Mehta referred to as “the periphery,” elective classes like art and robotics and extracurriculars like debate and athletics that are outside of what we consider to be the core academic classes. “Nobody talks very much about what’s going on in those spaces,” Fine says, “and yet they were the places where we saw the richest learning happening.” (Gonzalez 2023)

The article provides a range of Co-curricular offerings as examples, but of particular note in this year when the College is preparing for Musical Productions at both the Junior and Senior Schools, is this illustration:

“In a place like theatre, different kids have different domains of expertise. There are kids who are good at the lights, kids who are good at the staging, kids who are painting the set, kids who are doing the acting, kids who are helping pull it all together, making sure those things are coordinated. So there’s room for kids to get good at different things and to lean into their strengths and not have to be good at everything. But also, they all have to work together to produce something that not any one of them could do on their own. Rather than this kind of independent, meritocratic, individualistic way of approaching learning, it’s actually, no, we’re trying to produce something important and new and, and big, and none of us can do it alone. And we can’t do it if we’re all doing the same thing at the same time. We actually have to rely on each other’s brilliance and skills, and we need to find a way to coordinate those things in order to mount this production.” (Fine and Mehta quoted in Gonzalez 2023)

What a beautiful picture of rich, authentic and collaborative learning. Yet another reason for why we consider Co-curricular to be a core contributor to the formation of our students.

Jess Morrish
Head of Co-curricular

From the Principal
From the Head of Senior School