Picking up the books
Saturday morning and all the kids have their tasks ahead of them. Bianka (cousin) is heading off with Wyman (cousin) to participate in a Scout challenge to achieve their Pioneer Badge. This involves a long trek to a beach and then some swimming activities. Cecilia (cousin) tutors at Kumon and that left young Ashley (cousin) to join us as we headed over the Westgate Bridge into Yarraville to purchase Joe’s Year 9 books.
Yes we could have ordered them online, but with time on our hands, a personal visit was the choice and I am glad we did. The trip to the bookshop was quite quick and when we entered the shop you could see that it wasn’t just a school bookshop but an experience. For seven year old Ashley it was a magical place with reading areas, a doll house and a range of books that appeal to children of all ages.
With Tintin, Harry Potter, Asterix and other characters on the shelves, I enjoyed being in the store as much as others.
Yet again we had a personal experience related to Joe’s entering Melbourne High. Firstly there was a lady returning her son’s Melbourne High books because at the twelfth hour, he decided to stay at his current school. Being a teacher herself, the fact that her son had got into Melbourne High created an immediate bond with us and there was a long discussion about what to expect. Most people are a little surprised to hear that we had moved from Darwin to Melbourne and are generous in providing information about how to take part in this new chapter. One of the comments was that because the acceptance into the school is based on the results of testing and not the ability to pay fees alone, the students will have academic capability in common, but their cultural and “SES” (Socio Economic Status) diversity provide a broad range of backgrounds clustered into one school. I think this is more valuable than a school that uses a fee basis to create a narrow SES window.
I think this is one of the reasons why Joe felt that the kids who tried out with Joe for the rowing were “normal”.
We then had a chat with a gentleman who I think was the owner of the bookstore and he praised Joe for getting into Melbourne High, partially because of the fact he had sat the exam from Darwin without specific tutoring and because I think he fully understood the process of selection.
He made an interesting comment to Joe that he would feel like a junior in 11 classes of 30 year nine students, but after one year a fresh batch of students would arrive and Joe would become more senior by moving into Year 10.
It reminded me in part of the junior and senior class at Portsea’s Officer Cadet School.
His words also caused me to reflect on the different attitudes of student cohorts. Some bond and strive, being competitive in a constructive way. Others disrupt and destroy, undermining any chance for a positive education. I have seen schools that house cohorts of both persuasions and fortunately Joe has always attended schools that support a positive education experience. Marrara Christian College and The Essington School both provided a great learning environment for Joe.
Family support, basic values and hard work combined with love and encouragement beat money or methodologies any day. Joe knows nothing about “Visible Learning” or “Direct Instruction” and neither does his Mum. I would suspect almost all of the parents whose children have made it into Melbourne High understand and support another methodology that doesn’t sound as cool as the two mentioned above… It is called “Hard Work”.
I really am glad we have participated in person with the whole induction process. There is a sense that Joe has joined a special club and those involved have been kind and charitable in their comments.
Part of the experience in the bookshop was taking some pictures of Ashley and her Mum sitting at an old school desk, complete with an empty inkwell.
We left the store and headed back into town – with extra time to spare before picking up Cecilia we headed to the Botanical Gardens and enjoyed a Devonshire tea before collecting Cecilia and returning to Chadstone shopping centre for a dumpling meal.
We tried a chilli fish dish “shui zhu yu” which is a Sichuan style dish of fish poached in water and served in chilli oil soup on a base of bean sprouts and bok choi and also chilli dumplings. Normally we just have dumpling “Guo tie” and “Cong you bing” a shallot pancake I used to order in Nanjing when I studied there. After a great meal we had to rush Ashley to her abacus class.
Joe and three of his cousins were fast asleep on couches in the living room as they had a sleepover last night – we created a new recipe… cook marshmallows over the barbeque on skewers (nothing new) but then either bite or take off some of the hardened caramelised skin from the marshmallow and dip it into some freshly prepared triple butter popcorn creating a salty sweet treat that everyone enjoyed.. Wouldn’t recommend it as part of a healthy diet, but for young kids on a Saturday night – great. The five and seven year olds loved it.
Off to the Vic markets with 4 of the bigger kids today which will give Helen and Tina some time to take my Mother in Law out. There is a food chain down here called Taco Bill (not Bell) and the kids love it so that’s lunch sorted. Or so I thought…