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Hale@home Realises its Vision; and Builds Momentum for the Revolution
Author: Michael Valentine, Hale School | April 15th, 2014

HaleatHome Hale@home was always good idea. It just had to be executed. Hale School embraced my plans for an initiative which would assist the transition of country boys to our big city school. Hale@home espoused the merits of using technology to assist the boys who join our school as fully residential boarders in Year 8, by working with them online in the year prior to starting at Hale School. For generations their predecessors have come to Hale School from small rural schools scattered across the vast state of Western Australia. In more recent years the digital divide between country and city schools has been stark as these boys encountered city peers who had used 1:1 technology at the school since the early years of primary school. Just getting a reliable internet signal remains a significant achievement for many rural schools (and families) in Australia. So in 2013 I commenced Hale@home; a weekly connection between Hale School and 17 boys across WA as well as one lad in New Zealand. They were looking forward to coming to Hale School in 2014 but were understandably cautious in their initial responses to a programme which seemed to extend the school day, from home, until after 6.00pm one day a week! They joined the 2013 1:1 programme and attended an Induction Camp at Hale School where they gained confidence in connecting each week online via Adobe Connect and in using their brand new personal Tablet computer. Things were looking up! They headed home to return to their small country schools but enabled to communicate with their future school mates and teachers each week. The 17 boys then completed a year of richly interactive online learning.

As we commenced first term in February last year it was clearly evident that Hale@home had to engage the boys so that they saw themselves as a learning community with common goals. Hale@home is not an academic programme designed to close any perceived or real gaps between our city and country schools and students. Rather, it is about boys bound for Hale School commencing a collective journey. It is a programme where strong bonds are developed and a sense of optimism is established; so that they are better personally equipped for coping with the challenges that most certainly exist for boys leaving home to attend boarding school in the city.

As 2104 commences at Hale School, these 17 lads are now a part of our school community. Many conversations have been had and it is clear, strikingly so perhaps, that the transition these boys have experienced in the past eight weeks has been different to any other experienced before them. Boarding House masters and class teachers have spoken forthrightly about “the difference in the boarders in 2014”. These boys enter a “fast-moving academic stream” where they are a cohort 17 new faces amidst nearly 200 boys, all of whom have serious time in the school already. The boys’ parents acclaim the programme because of the confidence and enthusiasm they saw in their sons as they drove home from Hale School that day in January, leaving their 12 year old behind to begin life as a boarder. Much of rural Western Australia now knows of Hale@Home and its reputation is testament to just what can happen when a school takes a risk. An extensive technology platform no longer inherently confirms that a 21st century teaching and learning context is evident in any school. Technology compels us to do things differently. Hale@home has had a profound impact on my capacity to understand how we might make schools realise technology compels us to change…really change. Every week Hale@home allows boys to celebrate the uniqueness of their understandings by demonstrating them in memorable and valid ways. This is giving momentum to new exciting concepts such as Hale21.

Hale21 is a concept with breath taking possibilities. It is an online programme designed for academically capable students who enjoy collaborative problem solving within an interdisciplinary framework. Hale21 is inviting Year 7 students from any school, anywhere, to enroll in a 10 unit course undertaken one evening a week online and culminating in a workshop at the school where each student gives an IGNITE style presentation on their cumulative folio of work. Interestingly, I am working with Sara Stephenson from the USA on the content and delivery of this programme. Sara is formerly of Hathaway Brown (Cleveland) and The New School (Arkansas). She is now taking on a role at University School in Cleveland but will be a part of Hale21 in 2014. A trial in January of this year saw us work online with 6 students from across the USA on Hale21 and such was our experience we commence advertising the programme formerly in April. I look forward to updating you on the programmes journey. This link will take you to our Hale21 site.

Hale@home and Hale21 have enabled me to establish a very clear and passionate perspective on what I believe we need to be more broadly doing in our schools to ensure we cater for the unique intelligence of our students. We need to remove the entrenched views that so rigidly perpetuate the traditional academic model that has driven our schools for centuries. Not surprisingly, this revolution will come about only when we have enough teachers, who possess certain capacities, to take on the system. I gave my first TEDx talk a few weeks ago; entitled” Teaching for intelligence with stories, colour and noise” and it gave me a space to explore the capacities our 21st century education revolutionaries are going to require to ensure change is real and enduring. Firstly, a rich subject knowledge and thorough understanding of the science of teaching. This is level one only. Contentiously, I regard this as the current benchmark for too many teachers in the academic model and subsequently momentum for change is very, very limited. The second quality is a passionate advocacy for the need to change assessment. It is clear that essays and tests are limited demonstrations of intelligence. In my TEDx talk I stated “our intelligence is our brain’s personality”. The academic model cannot cope with unique responses. This has to change. Creativity, problem solving strategies, communication skills, technological confidence and collaborative processes need to be taught or inspired; and become part of the assessment model in our schools. These are the skills of the 21st century and their value now exceeds that of knowledge alone as a measure of intelligence. Moreover, they are essential attributes if one is to be an active participant in our modern society. Thirdly, the teacher of the 21st century must possess and demonstrate all or some of these qualities. They must be able to effortlessly communicate in many contexts with clarity, substance and intellect. They need to design curriculum that brings alive the creative domain in their students and know how to bridge the disconnect that exists between our current daily academic context and the true nature of individual, intellectual capacity. And finally, they are going to need to be resilient; possess a bit of professional steely resolve because this sort of change currently verges on the heretical for many.

This change is not going to happen easily. But it must. Teaching is an art and a science and its time has come.


Michael Valentine is now the Head of Online Learning at Hale School in Perth Australia. As the former Head of Junior School and Head of Middle School this new role allows him to design and develop innovative online programmes. Michael has presented Keynotes and workshops across Australia and overseas which have all featured his trademark creative approach using technology in teaching and learning.

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