Headmasters Blog

The importance of a balanced education

Why we provide an environment that encourages our students to try something new, take measured risks and seek the positive in every challenge.

Last Friday, I was fortunate to attend the 2021 Western Australian of the Year Awards. Before entering the main venue, I found myself in the company of two Old Scotch Collegians who graduated during my time at the College. Unsurprisingly, they have grown into fine young men. However, what resonated with me most was that despite their varying academic pathways since leaving school, they shared a deep appreciation of the type of education that was afforded to them during their time at Scotch.

Throughout many years of working in education, I have been fortunate to experience extraordinary events and hear from wonderful people. On one occasion, I listened to the Dalai Lama deliver an address with great humour and wisdom; a rare combination in many of today's world leaders. He reminded us of the need to reinforce and work towards oneness in our world. We are born and die the same. In essence, what most of humanity strives for is to lead a happy and purposeful life.

Last week, I saw the Dalai Lama featured in the news and I was reminded of a time in 2015 when I took four boys to the Octagon Theatre at UWA to listen to and meet his holiness. As if on cue, one of the boys at Friday's function, an award nominee, turned and asked me if I remembered when I took them to hear from the Dalai Lama. What sparked this congruous series of thoughts was simple; we were all reflecting and sharing our views on what counts in one's education. It isn't an experience that focuses on a score, or even worse a rank. It is comprised of a vast array of opportunities. What's most important is providing an environment that encourages graduates to try something new, take measured risks and seek the positive in every challenge.

At Scotch, we focus on delivering as many experiences as possible for our students. At this time of the year, I hold a series of lunches with our Year 12s to check how they are travelling personally, to ascertain how we could have improved their Scotch experience and to identify elements of our College that we should never change.  

At the Western Australian of the Year Awards, each award category celebrates personal excellence and achievement in a spectrum of fields. I think the categories align beautifully with the multiplicity of opportunities we offer at Scotch and this is a testament to the balanced education we promote.

Aboriginal AwardOur Indigenous Programme, Reconciliation Action Plan, NAIDOC celebrations and scholarship partnerships.

Arts & Culture Award Our support of music, performing and creative arts.

Business Award – Our business-specific curriculum, programmes, competitions and affiliation with tertiary and entrepreneur opportunities.

Community Award Service learning, service programmes in the wider community and messaging at Chapel about the role we must play to make society a better place.

Professions Award – Preparing our boys for life.

Sport Award – Our involvement in the Public Schools Association and compulsory sport participation at all levels. We promote lifelong physical activity and sport as a way of maintaining personal health and wellbeing.

Youth Award Every day we focus on youth and leadership and help each boy to reach their full potential.

Congratulations to all nominees and award winners at this year's Western Australian of the Year Awards.

Let us remind ourselves that the curriculum and co-curriculum offerings we provide are not simply a random series of time filling events. They are offered to enhance the personal and educational journey of each student.

Each time I bump into a Scotch graduate, just like last Friday night, I am reminded of why we do what we do each day and why we offer a balanced education. This is how you truly prepare a boy for life.

Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.

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