CMC EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
The Charlotte Mason College (CMC) Curriculum is a Christian Classical Liberal Arts Education. As such, it is a broad general and cultural education that does not stream students in a narrowly focused way. We are looking to develop the whole person, and help the student prepare for life and for many varied opportunities in the future.
OUR CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION
At CMC, our understanding of the human person and of healthy human development is anchored in the Christian tradition. We therefore reject the reductionism that is widespread today. Far too often the stated goal of education is good exam results, as if that were a sufficient end in itself. Good exam results are important in our system, but we keep our eye on a more distant horizon – what kind of people are our pupils becoming? What kind of life are they being prepared to live? We work to maintain a culture that values learning for its own sake. Why? Because learning helps us grow as people. We do not let the demands of our exam system obscure this central purpose of education.
A child is not a bucket to be filled, or a machine to be calibrated. Rather, every child is a person – equal in dignity and value to any other.
This profound idea raises important questions about the purpose of education. First, we need to think about what it means to be human in its various facets. Then we can consider the goal of human development. What kind of growth are we seeking to nurture, in what areas, and toward what end? Ultimately, education needs a destination. If you are setting out on a journey, it helps to know where you are going!
EDUCATIONAL DISTINCTIVES & PRIORITIES
Every school holds particular values and priorities in a unique balance, thus creating a distinctive culture. The following priorities shape teaching and learning at CMC.
A Knowledge-Rich Curriculum
Children are naturally hungry for knowledge. Our curriculum, therefore, aspires to be intellectually stimulating, delivering substantial content across every subject area. The breadth of a curriculum is important, because by age 16 young people should have developed many interests and competencies. This is what it means to be well educated, and it is the basis of intelligent citizenship. We prioritise ‘classics’, material that has proven itself over time and that exposes pupils to some of the main strands of our Western cultural inheritance.
The purpose of such a curriculum is to help a pupil establish relationships with as many enriching activities and fields of knowledge as possible: with nature, with history, with great literature, art, music, and so on. Why does this matter? Because as we do this, we grow as people. We understand ourselves better. We reach out of ourselves and appreciate more about others and the world around us. We develop the skills, understanding and insight that can help us live well and be meaningful contributors to society.
Personal growth only takes place when a child engages for himself or herself; it cannot be forced. Assimilation and internalisation of knowledge requires a pupil to be proactive; the resistant or passive person learns nothing. This means that ‘teaching to the test’ or ‘spoon feeding’ is a short-sighted distortion of real education because it fosters dependence rather than the independence of thought and action that is a hallmark of a mature person.
We place a high priority upon each child assuming increasing ownership for his or her own learning. We do not make use of merit systems. Instead, we simply get on with teaching and learning, allowing a stimulating curriculum to serve as its own reward. The importance of self-education also has implications for the teacher’s role. He or she is not the ‘showman of the universe’, or the fount of knowledge, but a mentor or guide whose role is to help pupils engage with the curriculum for themselves. It is the content which satisfies.
The educational atmosphere has two aspects that are extremely important for quality learning to take place: the atmosphere provided by the physical environment of the classroom or home learning centre, and the social-emotional atmosphere.
Regarding the physical atmosphere: Charlotte Mason believed the normal home provided the best learning environment, but it needs to be a clean, well lit, and airy place of quiet order and aesthetic beauty for optimal learning to take place. Research studies have shown that children can become unsettled, agitated, distracted and even physically sick if the home-learning environment is cluttered and chaotic.
Regarding the social-emotional atmosphere we aim for our classrooms and home-learning centres to provide a warm, loving, personable atmosphere where each child is cared for – relaxed and productive at the same time. If children are in an environment of threats and harsh discipline, they won’t be able to relax enough to truly learn anything. The atmosphere in your home is absolutely vital. It is as indispensable as the air we breathe – and it is primarily the parent who is responsible for keeping the atmosphere positive.
So, in our home-education we model enthusiasm for learning in an atmosphere of awe and wonder about the world we live in – and the students catch the atmosphere of the home or learning centre – they breathe it in, as we maintain a discipline of the habit of focusing on the true, the beautiful, the honourable, things worthy of good report. As we are modelling a love of learning, children absorb our enthusiasm.
The Importance of Books
We consider it essential for every child to enjoy books, whole books (not just extracts) – and lots of them. Why? Because the most careful thinking the world possesses is found in books, and books are the best tool for self-education in adult life. We consider it essential that a child develop the patience to engage with a sustained argument or narrative, if he or she would become a careful thinker. Our digital age, by contrast, is characterised by distraction.
Universities are increasingly commenting upon their students’ limited attention spans and inability to read whole books. Pupils who are brought up in a culture that prizes books and who are confident and capable readers will stand out.
Practical Experiential Learning
As well as quality literature, we use practical experiential learning activities to help students to engage. Whenever possible, you should aim to reinforce your study and research by utilising ‘The Four D’s of Learning’
1. Do hands-on activities to capture the child’s interest through his God-given senses. Learning can (and should) be fun.
2. Discover to develop an enquiring mind, wherever possible, allow the child to explore and discover concepts first-hand, rather than merely telling them the facts, or just using texts and workbooks which tell you everything that you should think and believe about a topic.
3. Dramatise the people and situations that you are learning about, whenever appropriate.
This gives the child more empathy with a character or concept as they become immersed in the topic.
4. Discuss all that you have learnt together. This helps the children to gather their thoughts and express themselves, and also allows you opportunity to work through difficult issues, beliefs and concepts. Talking things over helps them to internalise truths, while strengthening family relationships.
The Discipline of Habit Training
Charlotte Mason said: “Habits are to life as rails are to a train”. A habit is a propensity to respond to a given situation in a certain way. The more deeply ingrained the habit, the more consistent the response will be. We tend to do that which we have always done. And this can work for or against us.
The educational program at CMC is based around Key Learning Areas (KLA’s), Classical Liberal Arts and Project Based Learning (PBL).
Key Learning Area
Humanities and Social Sciences
Health and Physical Education
Classical Liberal Arts
Historical and Classic Literature
Law & Government
Project-Based Learning (PBL)
PBL is an approach to teaching and learning that engages students in rich and authentic learning experiences. In a PBL environment, students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to an engaging question, problem or challenge.
A PBL learning and teaching framework addresses cross-curricular content and learning dispositions through rigorous, authentic, hands-on, interactive learning experiences. PBL is interdisciplinary (cross-curricular) and focuses on active, student-directed learning. It gives students an authentic, real-world context for learning where student voice matters. Students face complex challenges in a post-school environment where problem-solving, collaboration and creativity are highly valued skills.
Key Reasons for Using PBL Include
•Well-scaffolded PBL engages students in their personal learning journey.
•Offers students an opportunity to build confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
•Encourages students to use technology in authentic ways.
•Connects students and schools with communities locally and globally.
PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAM
All On Campus CMC students up to Grade 10 participate in Performing Arts, training in music, dance, speech/acting, singing, costume and stagecraft. The CMC cultural program builds artistic and cultural awareness, as well as communication skills, team-work and collaborative-learning.
Each year, the College also produces a major musical theatre production (e.g. ‘Pirates of Penzance’ in 2018). All On Campus Primary and Middle School students are expected to participate in this production as part of their education, and they gain credits in English, The Arts, (and possibly Design Technology). All DE students who reside within the vicinity of the College are highly recommended to participate in this program. Performing Arts subjects are held during the ‘Campus Program’ on Monday and Thursday afternoons. DE and FL students who enrol and participate in the full Arts program will receive the same credits towards English and Performing Arts.
Diploma of Musical Theatre
Senior Secondary students may enrol in the nationally accredited Diploma of Musical Theatre. This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skill, and resources required to participate in professional musical theatre within the Arts and Entertainment Industry. The course is performance-driven with content delivered by practising professionals and guest tutors from the Entertainment Arts Industry. Students will be trained to respond creatively to scripts, songs, choreographies, and to collaborate effectively with others and make informed decisions about character interpretation.
PASTORAL CARE AND STUDENT WELFARE
• Pastoral care begins with our Charlotte Mason philosophy. We work with the ‘whole child’. We are all here to support young people to learn, develop and mature on their path to adulthood. The young person’s wellbeing and emotional development is central to this journey.
• Our educational philosophy emphasises the processes of ‘learning how to learn’ and ‘loving to learn’. Therefore, it is designed to inherently speak to, and affirm the student, and create a caring, engaging learning environment that is also academically rigorous.
• Small classes with a maximum of 16 students per class enhance relationships between students and staff. At present our goal for On Campus is 64 students in total. This gives us a staff to student ratio of 1:5.
• All staff meet daily to pray for and with each other, CMC students and their families.
• CMC has a Pastor available to our staff, students and families.
SENIOR STUDIES AT CMC
The Accredited Qualification Depending on their level of achievement, CMC students will graduate with one or more of these four qualifications by the end of their Grade 12 (or Gap-year 13) studies. Students can begin these certificates from year 10 onwards.
a) Certificate III in General Education
b) Certificate IV in Liberal Arts
c) Certificate IV in Science
d) Diploma of Musical Theatre
The Cert III would be equivalent to a ‘General and Vocational Grade 12’; the Cert IV would be equivalent to an ‘Academic Grade 12’ or ‘Tertiary Preparation Certificate’; and students with a Diploma are performing at first year university level.
QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education)
The QCE is Queensland’s senior school qualification, which is awarded to eligible students usually at the end of Grade 12. The QCE recognises broad learning options and offers flexibility in what, where and when learning occurs.
To be eligible to receive a QCE, students are required to complete studies equivalent to 20 credits or points, at least 12 of these points must come from ‘core’ studies. Core courses of study are the types of courses usually undertaken by young people during the senior phase of secondary education.
The course type, set standard and credit/points are on the following page. The highlighted areas are the course types that CMC offers students.
VET Certificates II, III and IV
Awarded Vocational Education and Training (VET) Certificate II qualifications contribute 4 credits towards a QCE. Awarded Certificate III and IV qualifications generally contribute 8 credits, although some contribute less. Partly completed VET qualifications (Certificate II and above) may contribute credits towards the QCE. The number of credits depends on the proportion of competencies completed and is awarded to partial completion in increments of 25%.
Most students complete CMC College with at least a Certificate III in General Education and a Certificate IV in Liberal Arts with extra units from the Certificate IV in Science. This makes up the 20 points needed for QCE and more than meets the required 12 from Core Learning.
School-based Traineeships and Apprenticeships
School-based Traineeships are supported by CMC. At the moment we have four flexible learning students working towards their Certificate III in Business via On Campus studies, online studies and work placement.
We have another student completing a certificate III of Film and Media through a traineeship and one doing Automotive Mechanics. These programs allow students to work and train towards a recognised qualification while completing their school studies.
School-based Traineeships are VET Certificate II or III qualifications that include on-the-job training. Completed traineeships contribute 4 credits for Certificate II and up to 8 credits for Certificate III qualifications.
Students at CMC who successfully complete a Cert IV and above are awarded their certificates and will have their literacy skills recognised by the QCAA. The College is also able to support your child by booking them into a Core Skills Exam and/or Certificate I – Communication and Certificate I – Numeracy or the Certificate II – Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.
Students, Parents, Teachers, CMC Curriculum Manager, Learning Advisors and the College Principal will work together to develop each student’s SET (Senior Education and Training) Plan and learning pathway.
Campus Program (CP) is curriculum learning based electives offered On Campus to ‘ALL’ CMC students. CP electives are a compulsory part of the On Campus students weekly timetable. DE and FL students are invited and encouraged to enrol in all or some of these On Campus electives each term to add depth, hands-on workshopping, teamwork, socialisation and community to their personal learning.
CP electives are offered from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Parents of DE and FL students aged between 5 and 10 years old or who have students with a high behavioural need or disability are required to attend with their student.
Campus Program participation will be recorded on your child’s semester report. In 2018 Campus Program has no cost and is offered to all our students. In 2019, it will carry a nominal cost associated with each elective.
CMC is a small school and does not have a dedicated learning support program or special needs teacher. All parents are advised of this during the Enrolment Process. This does not prevent our College from working with and supporting students and families with learning support needs. At CMC our On Campus classes are multi-age and kept to a maximum of 16 students per class. This enables students to work at their ability and pace and with a higher level of teacher / student interaction.
We offer 3 different ways to attend CMC:
i) Distance Education (usually CMC Curriculum, Parent Educator, Learning Advisor and Specialist Teacher support),
ii) Flexible Learning Arrangements (usually 2-4 days on campus, combined learning of PBL, On Campus programs, On Campus days, traineeships, independent DE home study)
iii) On Campus full-time (8:40am-3:00pm Monday-Friday).
Each student at CMC has a Curriculum Plan that is individualised to that student. This includes our DE, OC and FL students. Modifications to academic programs may consist of differentiated subject content and a modified assessment load, and where necessary, modifications to assessment conditions e.g. length of time of assessment, place of assessment, use of a computer.
All our teachers have experienced differentiation of teaching practice and in making modifications for the needs of individual students.
At the Enrolment Interview the ‘whole’ child is discussed and what is of the most importance is that the College (including our ethos, our teaching methodology, our Christian faith and our behaviour expectations) is an appropriate ‘fit’ for the student and family. Students at CMC will need be able to spend a portion of their time working independently.
Considering CMC Campus has a maximum student load of 48 in 2018-2019 and 64 in 2019-2020, we are diligent in our Enrolment Process. If parents desire their children to attend On Campus or in a Flexible Learning capacity, we expect that the students have a deep desire to learn and want to be at the College. We also expect they will work hard and follow all CMC expectations and rules. We have found that students who do not really desire to learn or want to become a part of the CMC family not only disrupt our classes but prevent other students from learning. They are also taking a place in the College that another student may benefit from.
Parents are expected to agree with, and support our College ethos, policies and procedures. We also have recommended books we suggest a parent should read before sending their child to CMC that will help them understand the Charlotte Mason Method.
Daily Teacher Observation, Narration & Student Portfolios
Charlotte Mason College places the highest value upon daily interactions with each child, their own responses to knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking through narration, and student portfolios. Because of our small teacher-to-student or parent-to-student ratio, teachers and parents have the benefit of knowing each child as a person and can monitor progress, set expectations, and develop lessons that are appropriate for each student. Narration, or “retelling back” is used across subject areas, with each student narrating back a lesson or piece of literature, providing both broad story lines and detailed facts, and demonstrating knowledge, comprehension and critical thinking. Creative Project Portfolios also provide a strong testimony of samples of each student’s best work and progress throughout each year.
Semester Report Cards
Parents of all students will receive a collaborative (parent, teacher, student) progress report at the end of each semester. Teachers will gather work samples and other information from parents and students and then provide an account of each student’s achievements and struggles in spiritual, personal, cultural, and academic areas. For each subject area, the Report Cards include an academic performance rating, an effort & behaviour assessment, and an indicator along a ‘Foundation to Grade 12 Timeline’ that shows the students progression over the previous 12 months.
End of Semester Exams
It was common practice in Charlotte Mason’s original schools and is current practice in many of today’s Charlotte Mason schools, to allow the students an opportunity to retell through narration what they have learned over a longer term. In the early years (Gr 2 & 3) CMC will use a combination of drawing and oral dictation, while Gr 4 to 8 will provide written answers. Students in Gr 9 to 12 will produce essays as well as creative projects and multi-media presentations to display what they have learnt. These assessments are based on discussions and activities in which students have participated during the Semester. Students demonstrate how knowledge and ideas have been integrated across subjects and throughout the year, without “cramming” for a typical exam.
Although standardised testing is not our preferred method of assessment, and we do not spend much time preparing for them; we do not shy away from this process. The distinctive practices of CMC that feed the mind with ideas – the reading and discussing of quality literature and primary source documents, experimentation and hands-on science and math, narration and composition, study of nature and the arts – train students to make knowledge their own. As a result, they are able to demonstrate that knowledge in a variety of formats (including standardised testing) without having their daily lessons focused on cramming for fact-based, multiple-choice questions. School-wide trends noticed over time through the testing results may inform curriculum development decisions.
NAPLAN is an external, standardised, summative assessment system that the law requires CMC to apply at Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9. The results are calculated, compared, and published online by ACARA – the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
Grades 3, 5, 7 & 9 NAPLAN Reports come out during Term 4.
While participation by all students is expected by ACARA, students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers. Withdrawals are intended to address issues such as religious beliefs and philosophical objections to testing. A formal application in the manner specified for each state or territory must be received by the Principal prior to the testing. The Principal can provide further information about the withdrawal process.
PARENT TEACHER INTERVIEW
Parent/Teacher Interviews are held in Term One & Term Three. All parents and caregivers are urged to support these interviews. Parents are always welcome to make an appointment to meet with the class teacher at any time throughout the year to discuss their child’s progress.