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2011

No. 18

Introduction
In late March, sad news arrived that Richard Pickburn, a former colleague and Careers Advisor at the College, had passed away. As one of the longest serving members of staff, Richard Pickburn was one of the most influential of educators and learning strategists. Richard was the embodiment of professionalism, wisdom and communication. In a lifetime, there are only few such people that one will be privileged to meet Richard Pickburn was one of these few. I am most thankful that a few years ago, Richard was gracious enough to write an article on education for the forthcoming STEP book. I am confident that we will continue to build on his vision of learning in order to conclude this task. In mid June we received further sad news with the passing of one of the most respected members and elder of the Mimili Community, Johnny Wongin. His loss will be greatly felt by the members of our two Communities. We are currently in the 17th year of Year 9 STEP and the 13th year of STEP at Year 10. It has been a long and exciting journey with so many changes, challenges and interesting experiences. This year has been no less in terms of new ideas and innovations. In early term one I met with the founder of STEP, John Gibson to explore his views and perceptions of STEP and to identify opportunities for greater collaboration between us. We asked the question: In what ways can STEP become more effective in the curriculum and if so how? Currently, four of the most significant initiatives that have been undertaken in STEP include: the introduction of Positive Education at both Year levels 9 and 10; the restructure of the STEP Garden; the reformatting of the preparatory workshop for the STEP Trek; and the development of the QuIn and Team modules. With the latter, I have been ably supported by three Old Scholars Tom Mooney, Joseph Scales, Hannah Doyle, along with a good friend, Graham Brown. In January this year, I attended a three-day training workshop on Positive Education, hosted by Geelong Grammar School (GGS) and featuring Karen Reivich, one of the key people in the Positive Psychology and Education movement in the USA. GGS has spent in excess of a million dollars promoting Positive Education and training its entire staff on this approach. Positive Education at GGS is offered at Years 7 and 10. A number of schools from across Australia attended the workshop, including Scotch College Adelaide and me.

STEP founding father John Gibson, second from right.

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9 STEP (Human Foundations module) students with Optimistic Kids Director Simon Andrews.

In June 2011, I also attended a workshop hosted by Simon Andrews, an accredited Positive Education trainer. Simon has developed a new approach to adolescent well-being called Optimistic Kids. From these experiences and other workshops such as The Mind and its Potential Conference (Sydney), I have been able to acquire a greater understanding of this area and confirm how vital it is in modern education. All of the workshops/conferences I attend are personally funded. One of our outcomes with the Positive Education initiative has been the involvement in the classroom of our College Counsellor. Together we have explored ways to facilitate Positive Education concepts in STEP.

At GGS, one of the main discussion points dealt with the structure required to format the program. The main thing to note is that Positive Education is very much a work in progress, but with much to benefit students and a community. The college counsellor and I met at SHSC recently to plan for 2012 using the feedback from the trials we have conducted thus far. I am excited by the prospects of developing a new hybrid course, incorporating STEPs unique position and to gauge the results from her clinical assessment of STEPs role within the curriculum. The STEP Garden represents a special component within STEP as it encapsulates the spirit of youth and the need to develop new resources and learning methodologies. The STEP Garden has been established to play a frontline role in educating young people about the environment, nutrition and personal wellness and to take responsibility for this. The layout of the garden has been designed to be interactive with a range of fruit, nuts and vegetables that we use to talk about a host of topics, eg sustainability, water quality. The STEP Garden is quite small but very diverse; it incorporates compost bins, a hydroponic space, hot house area, recycling bins and a chicken enclosure. The development of this resource has largely been carried out by students. In all, some 6,000 hours of student time has been spent in two to threehour (lesson) segments over twelve years. This process has been an incredible test of ones patience and perseverance. The STEP Garden has been largely funded through the STEP parent levy.

Top row - Karen Reivich, second from left, listening to GGS Senior Head, Charlie Scudymore. Alongside is Justin Robinson, GGS Positive Education Director.

Another Positive Education initiative was to invite Simon Andrews to run two workshops with the Semester Two Year 9 classes. It is early days and there is scope for improvements in the delivery of Positive Education material within the STEP programs. Through these initiatives we have been able to develop a better sense of Positive Psychology and how to implement it. The incorporation of these Positive Psychology principles into Positive Education is largely formatted in two programs: the Penn Resiliency Program and the Strath Haven course. Positive Education principles can be introduced in a variety of ways.

STEP Garden. 9 STEP (CAAS module) students cleaning up after harvesting.

One of the biggest challenges with the STEP Garden is that of on-going maintenance, particularly during term breaks. To date this aspect of management has been done on an adhoc basis. With the significant redevelopment of this resource, the time has come for a more structured approach. Given the interest in Newsletter No 18. Page 2

gardening and cooking in the media it makes sense that we should look very carefully at how to best facilitate

social justice. This offers students an insight into important social issues and helps them connect and contribute to the community that they are a part of.

the benefits of this resource within our community this also means having proper funding to support it. From my observations, it is evident that some young people have limited exposure to the workings of a garden and the use of equipment such as garden spades, hammers and secateurs. We use the STEP Garden to create awareness of such things as safety, appreciating fresh produce, and how to work collaboratively with others.

A current initiative and task in STEP is that of teamwork cuisine, in which we cook cultural banquets that promote Asian and European cooking styles. In doing so, we are endeavouring to educate young people on better eating habits, cultural differences, the use of fresh produce (from our own STEP garden), and how to cook and maintain safety in such tasks. These activities are also part of the STEP Positive Education elements of Savouring and Gratitude. Other interesting STEP activities involve students working in the community. At Years 9 and 10 STEP, students undertake between five and seven hours of community service per year. This service module, CAAS, has seen our program and its students develop links with a range of community organisations such as the Friends of Brownhill Creek, Meals on Wheels Unley, Mitcham, Norwood and Burnside, and Hutt Street Centre (HSC). STEP students have provided volunteer time at the Meals on Wheels branches for over 12 years.

STEP Garden maintenance. The eastern boundary is fenced off by the 10 STEP (CAAS module) students.

10 STEP (Teamwork module) Team Machine activity. Students learning vehicle safety protocols on a Quad bike.

European (Greek) culinary expert Dora

10 STEP (Teamwork module) Team Structures activity

On another level, the STEP Garden has provided produce to the Hutt Street Centre for some ten years. Hutt Street Centre CEO, Ian Cox, is a regular speaker with the Year 10 STEP groups on issues of poverty and Newsletter No 18.

Kokrokois, with

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10 STEP (Teamwork module) Team Cuisine students.

state. With this STEP activity, I acknowledge the support of David Wagner of the Friends of Brownhill Creek group and Melanie Spurling of the NRM Board.

In addition we have manned the Monday crew at Hutt Street Centre for ten years, raised money (over $300) on a number of occasions for an Angel for a Day BBQ breakfast at HSC; grown fresh produce and donated this to HSC; baked lasagna meals for a 100 clients of HSC on a number of occasions; written 000s of letters over 16 years for Amnesty International; recycled bottles and cans and donated proceeds to HSC; begun to do more weed control work in the APY Lands of South Australia Victory Well site during our September nine-day Trek; participated in yearly clean-ups of the school yard and supported other groups in the community. Another facet of this community building was our raising of $15,000 to buy a bus for the Mimili Community. Regrettably, this was an ill fated attempt, however, despite the less than favourable experience, we were able to salvage the money and used this to support Mimili School initiatives such as hosting the Mimili Kids Can Dance show in 2009. This involved providing funding to bring over 50 students to Adelaide for the show and inter-school sport. In addition, we paid for a sports facility stand at the school. Another $7,000 has been channelled to supporting Mimili student, Zibeon Fieldings stay here in Adelaide. While the school has provided him with an academic scholarship at Years 11 and 12, STEP and its supporters have raised the money to cover other costs such as books, stationery and accommodation. Its pretty rare to have a small program such as STEP, a single stand alone subject without a school budget, do all the things that have been outlined above. In Brownhill Creek we have another success story. Earlier this year STEP received a plaque of acknowledgment from the Friends of Brownhill Creek for the work we have done over six years at the

9 STEP (CAAS module) students removing the Montpellier Broom weed at the Our Patch site with a tree popper tool.

9 STEP (CAAS module) students planting Carex and Juncus sedge clusters at Our Patch Site 2, Brownhill Creek.

STEP continues to develop depth and meaning in what it achieves as it builds strong on-going relationships with the community and an understanding of its members. STEP is about relationships and connecting with others. It takes this approach simply because there is a need. With each of these experiences STEP has embedded in our students a value of giving, of taking responsibility and of making a commitment. It is from these small beginnings that these young people will take other steps to shaping a new society with meaning.

Our Patch Site 2. This year at the Our Patch Site 2 we undertook a new approach through the careful use of tools and movement of students to different sites along the creek. In this, we have begun to plant sedges that will create a ground layer of stability for the riparian zone beside the creek. You would not think that weeding could be so productive and much fun, however, both Years 9 and 10 STEP students have over the years helped create a successful ecosystem here. STEP students have contributed immensely to the vision of returning Brownhill Creek to its pre-European Newsletter No 18.

One of the most significant parts of the STEP program deals with stories and relationships (Encounter ). For well over 12 years, STEP has worked with Human Relationship provider, Dale Carnegie Training, so as to strengthen our Year 10 students capacity to deal with relationship issues. The Encounter activity is possibly one of the strongest components of the program.

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10 STEP Students with a mindfulness activity (SAOETEx module). 10 STEP (Human Foundations module) Dale Carnegie Human Relationships Award winners for Semester Two.

From Semester One, the winners of the Dale Carnegie Human Relationship Awards covered a range of principles notably dealing with family members (grandparents, parents and siblings). I would like to thank Sandra Ellis from Dale Carnegie Training for her 13 years of support of this STEP activity. Unlike the Year 9 course which has become a mandatory part of the curriculum, the Year 10 course is optional. STEP has to compete with other elective subjects such as music, drama, art, photography and film-making which have all received capital investment. How terrific it would be if STEP had such an opportunity! Despite our limitations, STEP has been successful in attracting over 60% of a year level cohort, i.e. over 85 students of 147, or over 30% in terms of a semesters rotation. Both the Years 9 and 10 STEP courses are semester based. Both Year level courses have the same seven human needs modules plus the core module (SAOETEx). They are philosophically the same but vary in the range and the intensity of activity. Both require a levy (i.e. $100 and $330 respectfully) to cover costs of out-of-school providers and excursions.

From its original formation in 1991, STEP has undergone a considerable evolution, in fact, a number of significant changes. In defining STEP in a nutshell, it is a dedicated program for adolescents to address the many issues that this age group faces today. A secondary role is to support other subjects by strengthening and supporting the adolescent in such matters as wellness (e.g. Positive Education). The outcomes can only be beneficial across the curriculum. The approach taken by STEP is different in that it involves a range of activities that places emphasis not on the traditional three rs, but on another set of core elements. Looking at the internal dynamics of STEP means having nothing short of a completely different perspective on the learning fundamentals, for example, the role of the teacher, assessments and methodologies. From the outset of my involvement with STEP it became obvious that to facilitate the kind of approaches that were required to address adolescent needs meant a different type of teacher model. The extent of the changes in our understanding (i.e. the Knowledge Revolution) of learning simply meant that one could not use the same elements associated with traditional teaching with a STEP or equivalent. There are reasons for this which cannot be outlined in this brief newsletter. When I first began STEP, it took half a year before realising that we needed to make fundamental changes. In the process of adapting to change I looked to the world of business for ideas in which to invigorate STEP. Some 17 years later, the urge to change and adapt is no longer being aided by business principles but by the ideas of neuroscience, psychology and quantum physics. It has become clear to me that business principles are simply too limited to deal with the complexities of modern society. Change is a complex process and to do something completely new takes time and requires a high level of planning, collaboration, leadership and resourcing. In the early days of STEP, there were very limited

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resources and so from 1997 onwards, I have personally invested in this program a total of $20,000. Lastly, there is the unmistakable reality that change requires the empowerment of a new mind set.

STEP Trek View of the camp site from Victory Hill

STEP Trek 2011


Earlier in this newsletter, mention was made of Johnny Wongins passing. Regrettably, another Anangu well known to us, Mary Brown, passed away suddenly in January. Mary was the wife of Teddy Edwards and together, they were instrumental in supporting our endeavours whenever we visited Mimili. In the July reconnaissance to the APY Lands, I visited the sorry camp for Johnny Wongin and was able to speak to his brother Peter; I was also able to express my condolences to Teddy Edwards. In a way I dont know quite what to say because it is not simply about death. In life there are people who are extraordinary. We may all like to believe that we are the same. Maybe for some this is true. When I recently met the Dalai Lama, his presence and energy were simply overwhelming - I was in the presence of someone special. Equally so, with Johnny Wongin, I was in the presence of someone special. People talk of spirituality and of the quest for meaning and substance. Some even delude themselves that this can be measured by ones position or material possessions. One of the strongest lessons I have ever gained from life is that the most potent person is rarely noted or even acknowledged. Their humility, wisdom, humanity, depth, compassion transcends everything. When someone like this leaves us, you feel it in a way that is different. Leaders come and go, but this type of individual, as little known as they may be, is priceless. Johnny Wongin was like this.

The 2011 STEP Trek began with a small group of 78, (58 students). I had decided to place a ceiling on the size of group we took to Mimili community this year so as to facilitate the management process. However, during the course of the year, this number slowly increased to 95 participants, the largest group ever. On meeting the group I sensed that they had a different energy about them and that we could manage this. It was obvious that these young people from the four schools were committed. Along with the 75 students, we had the youngest crew ever, comprising six old scholars, Tom Mooney, Francesca Trott, Jimmy Grant, Max Jones, Lachlan Jones, Genevieve Healy and Maddie Deegan. Despite losing some stalwarts such as Anne Morse, we recruited other strong members and were confident with the team. Aside from this, we introduced a new direction for the preparatory workshops and carried out some of the newer components on the Trek itself. We have taken the STEP Trek to another level. I acknowledge parent, Mark Tucker for his support with this new initiative. This new approach involved a more focused series of workshops that dealt with culture, philosophy and history. Along with this, we successfully combined the concert performance aspect. There is still scope for improvement in the future with the presentation of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara language component. Prior to our departure, I made a brief presentation to the Old Scholars Committee on the Grass Roots Bush Roots theme of communities enabling other communities i.e. our school helping Mimili School and its community. The case of Zibeon Fielding represented an opportunity for us to support a Mimili students dream of getting to university. While the school has provided a scholarship, another significant cost was Zibeons accommodation. Half of this cost for 2011 has been paid for by STEP Trek students, however, we had a concern for Zibeons Year 12 accommodation. Luckily, from this meeting we were able to gain their support with a $5,000 donation for Zibeons 2012 accommodation costs. So special thanks goes to the Old Scholars Chairperson and committee members for their wonderful contribution. Reflecting briefly on Zibeon, there is no one person who has come across this young individual who has not spoken highly of him. He has been with us for just short of a year and has made an impact as a role model and leader. Indeed, he was successful in the selection

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process for the 2012 Leadership group and will have a defined role to play in the year ahead.

theme which developed in response to the fact that the much needed changes in our country clearly cannot come solely from a top-down approach. If we want to shape Australia so that it is fully reconciled, we need to appreciate that our society needs a new approach. Everywhere we look, issues on social justice, the environment and wellness abound. It is one thing for our leaders to talk about issues, but it is another to actually do something about them. The following quote by Nobel Laureate, Henry Cadbury, encapsulates the sentiment of this New Australia,

The 2011 STEP Trek had many highlights. It was also notable that we had few major issues to attend to other than a flat tyre and flat battery, compared to the challenges of previous years. Much hard work and preparation had been done to ensure our success. Once again the interaction of our student group with Mimili School students was significant and the range of activities over three days was diverse and stimulating. I gratefully acknowledge Mimili School Principal, Chris Bell and Anangu Principal, Sandra Pumani with these activities. With any such event, catering is fundamental and in this regard the task was superbly met by Tom Mooney who was ably assisted by Maddie Deegan and other crew. The entire catering operation was seamless what a statement that is of their efforts! On the Trek we also refocused on the service component. Through crew member and parent Neil Collins, we engaged in the removal of the Buffle grass weed from two sites near our camp area. Neil has a role to play in the APY Lands and is regularly there assisting in the maintenance of this environment. We are grateful for this opportunity as it opens up another avenue in understanding the complexity of issues facing communities on the APY Lands. At Yulara we were fortunate to have the services of both Max Jones and Genevieve Healy who provided the Tjukurpa sessions around Uluru. Both Max and Genevieve have been engaged as tour guides in the NT. A big thank you here, especially to Genevieve who answered our SOS at short notice when another crew member needed to pull out. A special focus for the Trek is the Concert. At the outset a word of gratitude must go to Maddie Deegan, Brett Schmerl, Lou Myers, Lachlan Jones and Tim Brown for their support with this component. At our second concert in Yulara over a 120 visitors attended. At the event we introduced the theme of a New Australia, a Newsletter No 18.

Common folk, not statesmen, nor generals, nor great men of affairs, but simple plain men and women (and young people), can do something to build a better, peaceful world. The future hope of peace lies with such personal service. By way of a simple example, recently a South Australian member of parliament visited the APY Lands to showcase the new gardens (at two locations) that had been developed to provide fresh fruit and vegetables. What was not stated was that gardens have been developed on the APY Lands over the past 40 years but have not been well maintained. There are reasons for this. It is through such trips (as our STEP Trek) that our young people can get a first hand understanding of the issues and why there are failures. Its all very well to fly into a community to open up a new initiative; it is altogether a different proposition to understand the challenge of sustaining such initiatives. Our visits are about taking young people to a higher level of understanding, so that we can get past the current impasse and wastefulness from fly in/fly out politicians, or worse, from policy makers in far off distant centres such as Canberra, who never leave their offices. In this theme of a New Australia we also wanted to highlight the obvious point that money and legislation represent only one aspect of change. Probably the most crucial component of change begins with our education. In this, we need to understand that it is about our relationships, ability to recover from adversity, our need for mutual respect, taking on responsibilities that will ultimately drive change. It is about whats in our hearts and minds that needs to change and not what someone has done by way of legislation and funding that makes a difference ours is the bottom-up reply to the limitations of the top-down approach.

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STEP (Immersion Trek module) Culture session at Mimili Anangu School.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge the crew we had aboard there are just so many wonderful memories of their character and commitment. This crew showed in so many ways that nothing is too hard they are simply the best. I also wish to pay tribute to one of our longest serving volunteers and crew member, Ginny Healy. In 2011 Ginny has completed ten STEP Treks, making her the second longest participant. It is a credit to her and indeed to the Healy and Jones (clan) families for their unflinching support of STEP. Without them and this grass roots support, we simply would never have gone so far. It is also reassuring to see that during the course of the year, new people have come forward expressing their interest in the Trek event. Already there are six new crew members for 2012. This is such a vote of confidence and I am truly grateful to all our friends and supporters from our four school communities.
STEP (Immersion Trek module) Art and Craft session.

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