Sound Mind Project

Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School

Working with Lindisfarne School’s music students is the perfect platform for Charlotte Lush to ignite passion in her learners. “So much of our work in the Arts is about connection and relevance,” she says.

This is the story of how they used the Fluencies to demonstrate what one group of students can do to change the world through their musical craft, and to inspire others to do the same.

The Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School has 1060 students, an Early Learning Centre for Pre-school and Kindergarten, a Primary School for Years 1 to 6, and Secondary School from Years 7 to 12. They have an  academic program that places a strong focus on each student’s particular strengths and individual abilities.

I first met Lee in 2011 and have since been a passionate advocate of his theory of learning. It has transformed my teaching. I have long believed that as teachers we should be creating a thirst and curiosity for knowledge in our students rather than merely being bounded by a curriculum.

Charlotte Lush

Lindisfarne AGS

Students started to ask questions about their learning in other subject areas. They met with the Principal and spoke about how and what they saw as crucial to their future learning, thereby taking responsibility for not only their learning but the learning of the wider school community.

Charlotte Lush

Lindisfarne AGS

Without a doubt this has been the most inspiring and useful professional development I have been fortunate to undertake. Lee always challenges you to think about the bigger picture, keeping context and relevance for the learners as key.

Charlotte Lush

Lindisfarne AGS

What does it take to inspire

meaningful change?

There’s a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that perfectly sums up Charlotte Lush’s teaching philosophy: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks of work but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

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Charlotte is Lindisfarne’s Head of Senior School, and her mission is to infuse a passion for lifelong learning in her students every day. Working with the school’s music students is the perfect platform for igniting this passion. “So much of our work in the Arts is about connection and relevance,” she says.

In an ambitious project for the Stage 5 Music final term, Charlotte decided to challenge her learners to use Solution Fluency in answering  a powerful question: How can a small group of people help change the world and can everyone do it?

Where do we

begin to transform?

“Conversations in the Arts aren’t about winners or losers,” Charlotte states. “They are about what we want to say, how we want to say it and why we feel compelled to speak.” As such, she encouraged her learners to take a look at Sir Bob Geldof’s infamous Live Aid project from 1985.

This event is still known as ‘The Day the Music Changed the World’ and is widely regarded as one of the most historically relevant live concerts, second only to 1969’s legendary Woodstock. Thus inspired, Charlotte’s students began their own investigations of pressing world issues that called for action.

“When addressing the question of whether a small group of people can change the world,” she instructed, “we first need to establish what it is that needs changing.”

Once they chose a problem that resonated with them, students were to take initiative in building a solid course of action through research and collaborative brainstorming—much like how Live Aid and similar benefits are engineered. Of course, these are processes that are at the heart of the Essential Fluencies.

How do we plot a

path to success?

The next step was for students to choose a medium for taking action in this problem-solving adventure. Some wanted to write songs about the issue they chose to focus on while others settled on producing original documentaries.

No matter the vehicle they chose to express themselves, the students took the lead and made the learning happen their own way. “Student engagement and ownership of their learning are key,” Charlotte asserts. “Everything has context and relevance which makes it so much easier for students to understand why they are learning in their subject areas.”

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All in all, Charlotte couldn’t have been more pleased with her student’s accomplishments. “I would be less than truthful if I didn’t acknowledge that this shift in the teacher as the deliverer of content to that of  facilitator has not been a monumental shift,” she recalls. “But the tectonic plates are shifting and the results are impressive!”

How do we measure

growth and progress?

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  • Students are thinking more for themselves and assuming responsibility.
  • Lessons are engaging and related to real life learning where they get to see the consequences of their actions.
  • Students are developing a sense of ownership for learning.
  • They are working on projects that solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
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  • Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
  • Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
  • The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to their students’ personal interests and increase student engagement.
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  • Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
  • There is a deeper sense of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
  • Integrity and curiosity are developing for everyone in unexpected ways.
  • Educators are being inspired to both learn and instruct in many different ways to connect to learners.

How do we continue to

improve and excel?

As Charlotte reflects on this project and others, she can’t help but marvel at the transformations that have happened at her school. “Over the past one and a half years of working with Lee at Lindisfarne, many things have changed,” she says. “Teachers now feel empowered to experiment with their personal learning and also that of their students.”

And what about Charlotte’s students? “The most exciting development is observing students taking ownership of their own learning and engaging in that process,” says Charlotte. “By giving the mind a ‘why’ it drives the motivation for a lifetime.”

So what’s next? Among many other things, Charlotte intends “to focus on the importance of student voice, not just in terms of their physical environment or resourcing but fundamentally in terms of all aspects of their learning journey.”