Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

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WHY HAVE A CITY CURRICULUM?
(September, 1998, email to selected senior staff)

Because it nurtures occurrences like this: 

It was some time between 10.30 and 11.00 am, Thursday, 3rd September - the second day of 9O's CCP.  In the Homeroom, Brett, Ashley and Tom were gently discussing  the Legislative Assembly's 'Question Time' that, with their classmates, they had attended the previous afternoon - most students being somewhat critical of the 'sledging and hedging' that had gone on. 

Brett mused, "I reckon 'Question Time' should be measured by the time taken asking the questions." 

Simple as that!  Pennies dropped.  A wonderfully lateral thought!  And he knew exactly what he was saying! 

Think about it.  If, say, 'Question Time' was the length of time it took to ask a cumulative (not consecutive) 10 minutes of questions, how much better the questions and how much more relevant the answers?! 

Too good an idea to let pass!!  I suggested that the students should slip around to Parliament House to see if they could share the idea with the Deputy Speaker.  (The Speaker was absent, as we had learnt the day before.)  Nothing to lose.  You never know. 

Some time later they returned, having spent ten minutes with Mr John McGrath, MLA, Deputy Speaker!  How this had happened I don't know.  The Parliament was sitting and the Speaker wasn't due back till next week we had heard yesterday!  But happen it did. 

The boys reported that they had proclaimed the idea to the Deputy Speaker but felt that he hadn't really absorbed it and had seemed somewhat distracted. 

I congratulated them, saying that the very fact they had spoken with him was marvellous, regardless of his response.  I repeated this commendation fulsomely and publicly during the end-of-day Homeroom Assembly and had moved on to other matters when the Homeroom telephone rang. 

I asked one of the students to take the call for me and say that I would ring back.  She was in the process of doing this when I overheard her say, "...and who shall I say called?" 

"John McGrath", we all heard her repeat aloud! 

Needless to say there was some excitement in the class as I dutifully, now, went across to take the call.

Mr McGrath recounted his time with the boys, expressed his sadness that he had been unable to talk with them longer, wanted to let me know that he was going to pass Brett's idea on to the Speaker when he returned and was going to put it into the review process that the Parliament has regarding the conduct of 'Question Time'!!  He said that he wanted to write to the students accordingly.  All of this, of course, I promptly relayed to the class. 

This was at 3.35 pm, just before dismissal.  It was a superb and climactic illustration to all and sundry of the immediacy, reality and significance of their curriculum.

Related links
City Curriculum Pilot Project Concept Statement
All in Good Time
Year Nine City Curriculum Pilot Project
City Curriculum: Imperatives
Farewell to the CCP
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