May 6, 2021

isPodcast - Episode One

isPodcast - Episode One

isPodcast is a new show for schools and the wider community. Each episode, we will be talking with teachers, students, education and parenting experts, and school leaders with all the news, views and ideas from Independent education


Websites mentioned in this episode:

Arts Learning Festival

The Parents Website

ALF Poetry Competition

You can find isPodcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Transcript

Note: isPodcast is produced for listening and is designed to be heard. We encourage you to listen to the audio, as it includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. While every care is taken, our transcripts may contain errors. 

Mike Broadstock:
Hi, I'm Mike Broadstock.

Shane Green:
I'm Shane Green.

Natalie Moutafis:
And I'm Natalie Moutafis.

Shane Green:
We're a few of the voices you'll be hearing on this podcast from Independent Schools Victoria. isPodcast is a new show for schools in the wider community. Each episode, Mike, Nat and I will be talking with teachers, students, education and parenting experts, and school leaders with all the news, views and ideas from Independent education. Today, Mike will be talking to ISV's Arts Learning Executive, Anne Smith, about the upcoming Arts Learning Festival.

Natalie Moutafis:
And I'll be talking with Brandon Friedman from Elephant Ed about consent education for families.

Mike Broadstock:
But first, we have a chat with Michelle Green. Independent schools are the fastest growing school sector in the country. They educate one in six Australian children. As ISV's Chief Executive, Michelle Green represents them in Victoria. Shane spoke to her about why we're doing the podcast and what's happening in schools.

Shane Green:
Welcome, Michelle, to this very first podcast of isPodcast. It's exciting.

Michelle Green:
It is exciting Shane, and I'm really looking forward to the episode. Thanks.

Shane Green:
This is a new venture for Independent Schools Victoria. For our listeners who don't know much about us, can you talk about what we do?

Michelle Green:
Yes. Well, the name says it all, really. Independent Schools Victoria, we're the organisation which assists Independent schools to operate within Victoria, to support their teachers, their students, their parents, to deal with government and to deal with others. That's what we do. Members are at the centre of what we do. So whatever we can do to help Independent schools, we do our best.

Shane Green:
And there's something like 220 member schools?

Michelle Green:
We have 220 members. There's about 380 individual schools that are in our membership, so it's a very broad organisation, too. We have schools which have more than 3,000 students. We have schools which have 20 students and a whole lot of schools in between. All faith-based schools, some non-faith-based schools, community schools. So whatever you can think of, there appears to be a school to fit that bill.

Shane Green:
So to isPodcast, what's behind the decision to launch this new project?

Michelle Green:
Well, it's a personal decision as well as a professional decision. I love podcasts. I don't know about your listeners, but I find when I have quiet time to walk, I can listen to other people's ideas, I can get ideas from that, and podcasts are really my favourite way of winding down. So I was hoping that this might become other peoples' favourite way of getting new ideas and winding down.

Shane Green:
It's also a great way to tell the stories of Independent schools and ISV.

Michelle Green:
It is, indeed. And for many years, people just told stories about schools. Not about individuals. Not the really deep stories of what it is that people learn, what it is that we learn from our students, what it is that we bring to the table in terms of Australian society. So I'm really looking forward to hearing some of those stories and also hearing, too, about the way that people relate to the students, to the teachers, and to others in our schools, the way that parents are trying to relate to their kids. All of those things can come through in this podcast.

One of the issues for ISV is we have so many good things that we're doing that have been sparked by our member schools, been sparked by our national and international partnerships. We think that this will be a way for people to very quickly understand some of these things. For example, one of our programs, Project Wayfinder has never been in Australia before. But it's really about individuals, students working at what their purpose in life is. What is your life's purpose? It's the sort of thing that I would have loved to have done when I was that age, and actually, I like to do it now.

So Project Wayfinder, I'm hoping, will be a part of the podcasts. There are other things that we do, too, that are probably unexpected to some of your listeners. So the Arts Learning Festival and our focus on the use of art for learning, the use of art to try to stretch peoples' imaginations so that when they're doing math, they understand that there's an art component of math and science. So the Arts Learning Festival is really exciting, one of the things I'm personally very proud of at ISV.

Another thing that I think the podcast will be useful for is we have a very strong parent website which looks to an audience of parents that are not just parents of Independent schools. We have many, many subscribers, in the thousands, and some of the people who write for The Parents Website are very deep thinkers. And when you talk to them is when you hear their story that you connect. So I'm really looking forward to that as well. This will be very exciting for me and I hope for the people that are subscribed to the podcast and listen to it.

Shane Green:
Michelle, you'll also be talking about some of the really important issues of the day, and I suppose a good example is the national discussion we're having at the moment on consent education. How do you see this and what have schools in ISV been doing in response?

Michelle Green:
It is hard to live in these times without thinking that we are at a turning point, not only in our nation's history but also in world history. I think the discussion around consent education is one of those pivotal moments. The response of our schools has been deep, and many of schools have spent time telling us about what it is that they do year on year to try to provide a strong education in this area. There's been very strong feedback from our principals, who say, "Whatever we can do," that fits within our curriculum, that is not something that we add over the top so that the students are like, "Oh no, we have to do consent education." Something that's deeply embedded, and the stories from our principals in that area are very strong.

ISV, of course, has done whatever you think ISV would do. We've spoken to governments, we're liaising with the commissioner for children. We're doing what we can to support schools. We also need to be part of a conversation with parents, because we know while schools can do a lot, while individuals can do a lot, it really does need a deep response by parents. So we're providing some support for parents. We're providing support for schools. And we are hoping to be able to tell some of the positive stories that there are about what it is that individuals can do from where they sit to ensure that there is informed consent and that young women and young men don't feel pressured in the way that we're hearing about on the news.

Shane Green:
Thanks, Michelle. We'll talk again on our next episode.

Michelle Green:
That'd be great. Thank you, Shane.

Mike Broadstock:
The issue of consent's high on everyone's minds at the moment. Nat spoke to Brandon Friedman from Elephant Ed about how to start and continue the consent conversation at home with her kids.

Natalie Moutafis:
We're joined by Brandon Friedman, co-founder of Elephant Ed, a youth-led organisation that provides sexuality and relationship education. Elephant Ed recently hosted webinars for The Parents Website on strategies to start and continue the consent conversation at home. So Brandon, can you tell us a little about yourself and your organisation?

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah. Firstly, thanks so much for having me on. It's a pleasure to be here and it's been an absolute blast supporting Independent Schools Victoria and The Parents Website over the past fortnight or so with some parent engagement. To give you a really brief overview on who Elephant Ed is and what we do, we are a youth-led company that basically sends really youthful, relatable facilitators out to schools across Victoria and New South Wales now as well to deliver really interactive, inclusive, and informative sexuality and relationships education workshops.

We are really on a mission to break down the stigma and taboo that has surrounded these topics historically and really turn them into open and positive conversations where young people are able to really engage directly with these topics and really be brought into the conversation rather than being spoken at to and being pointed the finger and telling them what not to do and what to do. So we're really trying to shift the dial and really create that open conversation where young people are really empowered to make more informed decisions and safer decisions, healthier decisions about sexuality, relationships, and growing up, more broadly.

Natalie Moutafis:
That's great. We've asked you to join us today just to talk a little more about consent. So getting right back to basics, what is consent and how does consent work?

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah. So it's obviously really topical at the moment given the petition that's been started by Chanel Contos and related issues that we're seeing in Parliament and throughout Australia and the world. I think to bring it down to the bones to start with, consent is really simply just permission for something to happen or really more broadly an agreement for something to happen or to do something with someone else.

I think for parents it's important to remember that when talking about consent, it doesn't always have to be spoken about in a sexual context. And I think that reinforces that it can happen quite early and you can start that conversation nice and early talking more generally about that just basic permission for something to happen. But I think transitioning that to talk more exclusively around sexual consent, it's really important to acknowledge that there are almost certain ingredients or really key things to keep in mind that are needed for consent to be given.

So some of those things like the fact that it needs to freely given, it needs to be really informed, so no presence of pressure or force or manipulation. For it to be informed, everyone really needs to understand what they're actually consenting to. So things like the presence of drugs and alcohol or anything else in their environment can actually affect someone's ability to give informed consent. And alongside that, it actually has to be really ongoing and mutual. So it has to be given by all parties, every single time, not only before sexual activity but also throughout as well.

Natalie Moutafis:
So constantly checking in.

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah, exactly. I think those constant check-ins are so important. And I think that's something that young people often aren't aware of, that they might have the perception where that there is consent given before the sexual activity begins, but then they just assume that then applies throughout, where it's actually really important to keep checking in, like you said, to make sure that it is that ongoing and mutual agreement. So I think those are some of the few things that come to mind that is really important to consider when speaking about consent and sexual consent more specifically.

Natalie Moutafis:
I love how you mentioned it can start early. I've got two young toddlers, a four-year-old and a two-year-old. And once this came into the spotlight, and a little bit before that, I must admit, just because of all the research I tend to do on my own, things like playing a tickle game, I just turn around and now we say, "If you don't like it, you can tell us to stop and we'll stop." Or if we notice that the laugh kind of changes.

Kids love tickles, but you can hear the inflection in their voice from their laughter change when it's getting a bit overwhelming, so we kind of step back as parents and say, 'You don't sound like you're enjoying it as much. Would you like me to stop?' And kind of giving them that agency to learn that it's okay to say, 'I liked it before, but I'm not loving it so much anymore'.

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah, 100 per cent. I think that that word agency is so crucial. And I think that being able to provide that agency to young people from an early age is so important. And it really builds the foundation for then how they then act themselves in future years and their own expectations and their own awareness around their own rights and their ability to stand up and say no. I think it really creates that empowering environment where they know that their own beliefs and values and their desires are really important and need to be respected.

And I think that the earlier you can start with that, like you said, with really basic principles around personal boundaries and respect, I think that really is so crucial to laying that foundation for future years. Many times when speaking about consent, people assume it has to be sexual, like I said before. But it can be much broader than that and can be started a lot earlier when talking about things like personal boundaries and body safety.

Natalie Moutafis:
Yeah, totally agree. So with the whole petition that brought this kind of into the spotlight, there's been this huge focus that it should be brought into schools much earlier or from an earlier age group and for it to be more thorough. So do you think it should be left up to schools to teach this subject?

Brandon Friedman:
I definitely think schools do play a part, and I think where it can become quite tricky is particularly around the media. Often there is a lot of blame and a lot of focus on the school's responsibility to deal with these issues. While schools definitely do have a role to play, we're really big, particularly through Elephant Ed, in really reinforcing the messaging young people receive. It needs to be diverse, not only within the school environment but from those outside that as well.

So that can include receiving messaging, not only in the broader society at large and the media, but also from their families, from their home context, from their trusted adults in their lives, from friends around them. I think it's really important to acknowledge that it's not the school's sole responsibility to provide this education. They do play a really important part, and there needs to be really comprehensive programs that are in place. But that then needs to be supported by parents and guardians, for example, so that messaging can continue outside of the school context as well.

I think a really important part of that is the fact that parents and guardians are spending so much time with their kids at home, their conversations and the way they're behaving is actually such a big influencing factor in how the young people grow up and how they behave. So it needs to come from different angles, because different messaging delivered in different ways can really resonate for young people in different ways as well. So it's important that they're receiving it in different ways from different avenues all the time.

Natalie Moutafis:
That's a really good point. So I guess, how do we as parents and as the wider community support the schools with that? Is it approaching a school and saying, 'Hey, we want to get someone like Elephant Ed into a school to help empower our kids,' or is it a bit more, do you think?

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah, I think it probably requires a bit of productivity on both ends. From the school's end, often they might be running these fantastic programs internally, their teachers are really well equipped, they might be getting providers like Elephant Ed to continue that conversation. But sometimes it requires a little bit further action to really bring the parents into that conversation. What we do at a lot of schools that we work with is we'll run a parent seminar that really brings the parents into the conversation.

It gives them really good insight into what's happening at the school, what we're covering, but then most importantly, actually equipping them with the strategies and the toolkit to continue and really start those conversations at times at home so that it's not just that one-off presentation or that one-off lesson that's being covered at the school. I think that requires a bit of forward thinking from the school's part.

But then I think from parents as well that they also really need to be proactive. Maybe their kids aren't going to a school that is being really forward thinking and proactive in this area. So sometimes it does take, like you said, doing a bit of independent research or maybe prompting the school to try to be a little more proactive in this space. Because no one's really going to hold their hand through it. They need to take agency and responsibility for kids particularly in this important space. So it's really important for them to be informed on their own accord as well so that when their kids do come to them, they're actually able to then pass on informed perspectives, which is so important.

Natalie Moutafis:
Yeah. That is something that I think parents have to realise. A lot of the education with consent starts at home, first. I was watching the webinar that you guys presented for The Parents Website. And I think it was Dan, one of your presenters, he said, 'Gone are the days of sitting down and having that single birds and the bee chat'. If you start the conversation really early, like what I mentioned with the tickle story, you can start these things and it's just incremental over the years and it doesn't become this taboo subject. I think it's a really good point that it's no longer how many of us were brought up where you sit down and have a one-off chat that's cringe-worthy and move on and hope for the best.

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah. That's right. I think the frequency of conversations, the more you have them, it just creates that atmosphere where it is really comfortable to speak about it, and when the topic is brought up, it's not this really big tension that creates that cringe-worthy environment, like you said. I think using those teachable moments, using TV ads, using the media, using the consent petition at the moment, using those as prompts to start the conversation, lots of little times, we're not saying doing it multiple times in a day.

But when it does come up and when it does feel right, the more that these conversations are had at home, the more safe, the more comfortable the environment will become so that unfortunately if something ever does go wrong, they are feeling really comfortable and safe to approach their parents and the guardians in their life to actually discuss it and tell them what might have happened. So it's all about that environment. And I think a big part of that is not having that one-off talk and rather having lots of little talks over time.

Natalie Moutafis:
Yeah, I think that's a great tip. On that, I'm going to put you on the spot, what would be your major tip or hint to help parents or educators broach the subject of consent or sexuality or relationships? What's one main thing you wish everyone knew?

Brandon Friedman:
Yeah, it's tough to single it down to one. I know in our parent seminars, we usually try to keep to five, which is hard on its own to do. The one thing I think specifically around consent, which I think is really, really important for parents and guardians to have in mind is the modelling of behaviour. That tip is quite multifaceted. And it goes across different types of behaviour. So I think it's really important as that trusted adult in a young person's life to actually be modelling the type of behaviour that you'd then want them to display themselves.

So that goes to things like your language at home. So it could be, whether it's something happens in the media and you're discussing it at the dinner table, the way you respond as a parent to a sexual assault in Parliament or to Chanel Contos's petition that she started, can really reframe how your young person views consent and how they behave.

For example, rather than focusing on the victim and what the victim could have done better, we do often see a lot of victim blaming attitudes and themes around these areas. It's really important to shift that focus rather to the perpetrator. So what could have the perpetrator done to not commit or perpetrate that sexual assault? How do you actually establish really informed and enthusiastic consent?

So really switching that dial to make sure your language is focused, not so much on things like victim blaming and what they could have done differently or what they could have worn differently or how much alcohol they might have had, but really shifting that to the perpetrator to what they could have done differently I think is a really big one. And another example is also more in their physical behaviour.

As you said, at a really young age basic things like permission to hug or maybe it's kissing your aunt on the cheek, basic things like that to actually really give them agency in their own decisions and their desires really sets that standard from the outset that their desires are to be respected and they're really important. And the fact that someone else can respect that makes a really big difference and will really set the foundation for years to come.

So I think being really conscious of modelling behaviour, particularly around these topics and the way you're framing and discussing them is so, so important. So that would probably be my key takeaway for parents.

Natalie Moutafis:
They're really good. Thank you. I know there's probably heaps that you could mention. And I know just from reading and researching myself, of late, that there's so many more things that I feel like I could be doing but just biting it off bit by bit and implementing it slowly at home is probably the easiest way to feel like I'm actually making a change and making a bit of a difference, hopefully.

Brandon Friedman:
Definitely. Look, there's so much out there. It's a really multifaceted, multilayered issue. It's hard to become an expert overnight. I think, as you said, it's so important to do your best to stay informed and just create that safe space. I think that that's really the main thing for young people to feel like they're in that safe and comfortable environment where their parents aren't questioning what they're doing on the weekend in terms of alcohol consumption or sexual activity from a victim blaming perspective, but they're there to support them if something does go wrong.

And it's not talking about punishments. It's not talking about what not to do. It's more so, again, shifting that to what they can do, on positive things and what does a healthy relationship look like. So that if something does go wrong, the young person in their life is not fearing the consequence and therefore refraining from seeking help. They're actually feeling really supported and really safe to really approach the parents in their lives to actually support them when needed.

Natalie Moutafis:
Yeah. That's, I think, what every parent and every carer or even educators want. They just want safe, happy kids.

Brandon Friedman:
Exactly. Exactly.

Natalie Moutafis:
Thank you so much for joining us today. It's been insightful and really appreciate all the information you've helped share.

Brandon Friedman:
Thanks Natalie. Thanks for having us. Yeah, we'll look forward to the next one.

Shane Green:
Next stop, it all about the arts, Mike Broadstock talks to Anne Smith about our Arts Learning Festival.

Mike Broadstock:
In 2017 and 2019, ISV hosted Arts Learning Festival in Melbourne's Arts Precinct. We invited school student to explore their unlimited imaginations. My family and I were thrilled to attain both, making their own kites, creating musical instruments from found objects, working with world artists, and more. In 2021, the Arts Learning Festival is back. But this year it's looking a bit different. Anne Smith is here to tell us all about it.

Anne Smith:
Thanks, Mike. Lovely to be here.

Mike Broadstock:
We're lucky to get you, I think. I'm sure you've been extremely busy ahead of the festival.

Anne Smith:
Oh, yes, Mike. We're really excited about how the program's come together. We've got over 15 events, separate events, with different artists and cultural organisations being presented through mainly digital programming this year.

Mike Broadstock:
So we're doing things a bit differently in 2021?

Anne Smith:
Yeah, that's right. Our past two festivals that you would remember were live events delivered over multiple days in the centre of Melbourne in the Arts Precinct. This year we're working mainly online because during the pandemic so many of our schools had to pivot to remote learning programs. So in line with that to ensure students and community safety, we have also looked at redeveloping the festival through those channels.

Mike Broadstock:
And that's inspired the new festival theme as well, I understand? Reimagine, Recreate, and Renew.

Anne Smith:
That's right. The theme is an exciting link to our previous theme of Unlimited Imagination, which we all really love. But we thought we'd kind of expand it a little bit more as really working in the digital space also allows our festival to be, I guess a bit more expanded. So the reimagine part of the theme, of course, reminds us of the unlimited imagination theme we had for our first two festivals, which we, of course, love so much. It really spoke to the fact that the festival was a space of unlimited potential for students and community.

But this year, the festival theme has become a bit more expanded with the other two elements as well. So recreate, of course, as in all arts practise, focuses on the practical aspect and how we can make things, not just make objects or artworks, but make a transformation of ourselves and our way of looking at things to create a more positive future, which is, of course, where the renewal part fits in. Because that positive future is where we hope the Arts Learning Festival will provide foundations for us to all move in that direction.

Mike Broadstock:
What's the festival going to do for schools after months of remote learning in 2020?

Anne Smith:
Well, we hope that it's going to provide them with some really exciting program options to start with. Remote learning during 2020 was so hard for so many school communities. And they were truly magnificent in the way they recreated a lot of their programming to work with students in their own homes via Zoom or whatever platform they used. And there were plenty of challenges and limitations in the content they could present, particularly in the arts, which is such a practical subject.

Teachers often struggled with being able to engage students with practical activities in their own home. So looking at this year's program, those visual arts and performing arts experiences as well, we hope that we're providing as program events will be really great opportunities for schools to connect with, get some great new ideas for ways of working. And many of our programs also have additional resources with them that schools can access.

Mike Broadstock:
So there are challenges but also opportunities?

Anne Smith:
Oh, completely. And I think in thinking about how to create a festival program during the time of pandemic, initially is quite challenging in itself. Because as you probably remember, most performing arts and live arts events all folded during the year. However, artists showed up in huge numbers online to provide content for people, which really supported their emotional well-being during the pandemic. So looking at that as a model and what the arts and the opportunities of the arts can offer people, I think has really been a great guiding force for me in the development of the program.

Mike Broadstock:
The festival reinforces our belief that the arts play a central role in education. Why is it important for students?

Anne Smith:
I think it's recognised that the arts can support learning across the curriculum in a way that maybe not many other subjects can. When students engage with arts activities, they quite often focus on ideas and themes that look at the environment or look at relationships with other communities or focus on other cultural interests. So it really does tap into a number of other subject areas in quite a meaningful way.

Mike Broadstock:
How so?

Anne Smith:
Thinking about our previous festival programs, all of those were designed to address learning across the curriculum. For example, The Forum of The Third Paradise, by Michelangelo Pistoletto, engaged students in dialogue about sustainability – sustainability of the planet and its people. So all the students that attended that event thought about projects they were doing in their own school, whether they were community gardens or whether they were visiting senior members of the community in a home.

Critical thinking is also an important part of our festival program, and it's woven, really, through quite a few or if not all our events. The Visual Thinking Strategies workshops we do, which are designed to engage students in dialogue on particular examples of artwork will also assist them building, not just their capacity for literacy, but also their ability to use an artwork to construct an argument or reason through evidence and construct some ideas about what they think's going on in the artwork. What is the meaning of the work? What are the elements in the artwork telling us? And that also builds critical thinking capacity.

Mike Broadstock:
How do Visual Thinking Strategies help students do that?

Anne Smith:
Well, the good thing about Visual Thinking Strategies is it always uses the same three questions. And the construction of those three questions is actually really good for students, because before they begin the experience, they know what to expect. And the first question is, "What's going on in this artwork?" Initially it's about observation, so just looking, taking some time to look, looking slowly, noticing all the small details in the work as well as the big ones. And then the next question is, when they have shared their observations and thought about what's going on, not just what they can see, but what's going on, that question invites them to think a little bit more about the story behind the work.

And then they have to give evidence based on what they can see. And that's a powerful activity in getting students to actually think about, not just what they can see and talk about it in a passive way, but actively think about the world around them and how they view it. It's really good in building that critical thinking skill in students.

Mike Broadstock:
The events in this year's Arts Learning Festival have been spread across three phases in May, July, and September. What are some of the highlights for schools?

Anne Smith:
Well, Mike, we've got quite a few, I think 15 different artists and organisations presenting in our program. We've got Mary Mattingly, who's worked with us in the past. Mary came to Melbourne in 2019. This year for the festival she's doing a workshop for senior students called Wearable Portable Architecture. And this workshop, which Mary has done in other locations around the world, focuses on the idea of flexible shelters during times of challenge and also mobile shelters for highly urbanised environments.

For example, Mary coming from New York, she's very aware that some people have insecurity with their accommodation. There are many natural disasters in so many locations around the world that we hear about all the time. How do you support people at that time to give them something that's quite a simple, maybe, tool, for example, a jacket, but it would also convert into a tent?

Mike Broadstock:
We're also welcoming back The Ghost of John King by the Storey Players. Is that right?

Anne Smith:
Yeah, that's correct. Yeah, The Ghost of John King by the Storey Players, they presented that as a live performance during 2019, which was wonderful. And during the pandemic, last year, they quickly recreated that as a video resource for schools. So we're sharing that as on-demand event this year so schools can register and access that at any time.

Mike Broadstock:
They tell the story of John King, who was part of the Burke and Wills expedition. The only surviving member?

Anne Smith:
Yeah, that's correct. The Storey Players are a really fascinating company in that they go and research these stories with descendants of the people they write about. So they had actually met descendants of John King. And you're right, he was part of the Burke and Wills expedition. However, John King had taken up the offer of the local indigenous people and was supported by them and was able to survive. His story is seldom told. For example, most people don't know who John King is. But the Storey Players have a really keen interest on multiple narratives in history.

Mike Broadstock:
So that's Phase One, and that's happening between May 24th and May 28th?

Anne Smith:
Yeah, that's correct, yeah.

Mike Broadstock:
And then Phase Two is happening at the end of July?

Anne Smith:
That's correct, which will be early term three.

Mike Broadstock:
And we'll be welcoming back Gary Friedman for that?

Anne Smith:
Yes. Gary's agreed to come onboard again and do some workshops for us in 2-D stop motion animation. During 2020, Gary also did a lot of work changing all his content for online provision.

Mike Broadstock:
How will students do 2D animation online?

Anne Smith:
Well, Gary's work really focused on, first of all, getting students to kind of think about their own stories and perspectives. And I think that's really important as we move out of lockdown, which we had for most of last year and back into some kind of normal rhythm again. So being able to process what the events of last year meant to students as they went through that prolonged period of remote learning is the focus of Gary's work in this instance.

So he'll get students to do some brainstorming initially and come up with ideas and then do some storyboarding and then he'll teach them very basic 2-D animation techniques. And they'll create their own mini film in collaboration with their friends.

Mike Broadstock:
So they'll be recording short movies of what they create with their tablets or phones?

Anne Smith:
Yeah. They will. They'll be working with, I think, iPads in the classroom. So after they create their models and their little characters from the storyboard part of the process, they will then be filmed and Gary will edit them all together into a show reel for the festival, which, we're really excited about being able to screen at some time.

Mike Broadstock:
We're also working with Kerrie Poliness in partnership with the Monash University Museum of Art on Collaborative Abstract Drawing. What's Collaborative Abstract Drawing?

Anne Smith:
I first saw Kerrie's work during an online conference last year. And I thought it presented great opportunities for the festival in that the works are created outdoors and they're quite large scale drawings done in schools, basically in the playground using really those big chunky sticks of chalk. And students can draw on the ground. The way Kerrie gets them to create the work is she provides them with some basic ideas from geometry and mathematics.

So, again, it's that idea of learning across the curriculum. This workshop incorporates maths into the artistic process in that she gives students some ideas based on geometry to create these large scale drawings, which, she's done plenty of them in school playgrounds just using that really chunky chalk. And they create these magnificent works, which are quite linear and geometric but also very beautiful.

Anne Smith:
And students really love to be active when they're creating art. They love moving around. They love talking to their friends. But the fact that they're outside also means during the pandemic this is kind of somewhat safer.

Mike Broadstock:
And students get to take part in Art Chat Habitat in Phase Three. What's that?

Anne Smith
Well, initially they're going to hear from farming artist, Anna Louise Richardson about her practise as an artist and also the fact that she has this really unique relationship with the land, which influences so much of the way she creates her art. We've got two researchers from La Trobe University who will also provide content for students on both the idea of food security and how animals play such an important role in that and also how animals can support emotional well-being.

And students will really be invited after hearing these initial prompts and information from the experts to create their own works of art that focus on the animals that they know in their life. And part of this process is using a journal, which often is the way a lot of artists do research before creating their big works.

Mike Broadstock:
Right. That's just a few of the events schools can take part in over the next several months through the different phases of The Arts Learning Festival. How can schools find out more and take part?

Anne Smith:
Well, we will be sending packs out to all our Member Schools. But we also just encourage people to go on the website, which is www.artslearningfestival.com.au and have a browse around there and see what interests you. All the programs will be up and have dates, times, and ways to register. Some workshops do have a small charge, but there are many more that are free as well. So there's plenty there to choose from.

Mike Broadstock:
We'll put a link to all the details in the show description, including where you can book and find out more information. Thanks very much for joining us, Anne, and all the best for the festival.

Anne Smith:
Thanks very much, Mike.

Natalie Moutafis:
That was great, Mike. My kids went to the first two Arts Learning Festivals and they had a great time. It looks like there's lots on for students.

Mike Broadstock:
Yeah. One thing we didn't mention, though, was the student poetry competition, which is also running again this year.

Shane Green:
It was a big success in 2020. Students from Prep to Year 12 took part, inspired by what was a really difficult year by the competition theme, Hope.

Natalie Moutafis:
This year the theme is Joy, which is a nice evolution.

Mike Broadstock:
Yeah. We were blown away by the entries last year. Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, announced the winners for us and he was really impressed, too.

Natalie Moutafis:
The deadline for entries is Friday the 28th of May. So, if you know any budding poets, get them to enter. We'll put a link in our description.

Shane Green:
We're going to leave you with the winning entry in the year 9-10 category from the 2020 poetry competition, Hope in a Whistle, by Olivet Christian College Student, Haelie Roberts. The competition judges said it was a classic balled with strong images that caught the reader's eye and lingered in the mind.

Haelie Roberts:
Hi, everyone. My name's Haelie and I'm from Olivet Christian College. And I'd like to share with you my poem, Hope in a Whistle.

Haelie Roberts:
Hope in a Whistle By Haelie Roberts

The sky was fresh, the landscape too, the dew was on the ground
The sun was slowly creeping from the east.
A world of beauty wakening up from slumbering all night round
Sounds of life heard never to be ceased.
Then high up in the crimson sky, a bird of prey appeared
Something like an eagle to be seen.
A whistling kite flew swiftly, though as one meant to be feared
Soaring from the ranges to ravine.

He circled low above the brush, keenly seeking for
Dormant prey just waiting to be spied.
Circling still, he whistled out, a single piercing lure
‘Teeee-ti-tiiii’ he cried.
Then his beady eye caught sight of movement down below
He caught the passing breeze to make descent.
Plunging in a headlong dive he gained the bush plateau
A spiralling ball of menace on the scent.

Talons wide, his wings now spread he hovered just above
Then plunged and took his prey in swift surprise.
His talons closed on furry frame, he caught it by the scruff
There was no time to utter any cries.
Bird tensed its grip on squirming quest and caught the wind’s updraft
Triumphantly, he mounted for the crest.
His cunning eye rove peak to pile, seeking out the craft
Tucked away inside a homely cleft.

From a distance watchful eyes regarded all ago
A boy, intent on catching every act.
Often up before the sun appeared and out to see each show
He saw the kites’ performance most exact.
His interest was in birds of prey; he studied them with zeal
His entire life depended on this form.
It was he alone who gazed on them; observing to the meal
And wrote and marked down routine to un-norm.

Since he was just a toddling child, he loved to hear them call
His family shared the interest of his youth.
But then the day of fate did come and tragedy did fall
Leaving him alone to face the truth.
His mother gone, his father too, he fought to stay alive
While uncles, aunts and cousins fussed around.
They shipped him off to Dad’s aged bro to learn to tend to hives
Though never giving him a little ground.

He’d found a chance to be himself when Uncle Jesse said
“We’ll go a –watching for them birds you like.”
They waited still until they saw kites soaring from the head
Of the rugged cliff tops so alike.
Then he’d heard a high-pitched sound, a whistle so unique
The fire started in his heart anew.
“Teeeee-ti-tiiiiii!” he had that day heard shrieked
From the creature fully in his view.

And still he loved to hear them call; they gave him hope afresh
Telling him the past was now behind.
He now had thought to look ahead; and one that would refresh
His sorrow stricken body and his mind.
There was one thing that was hope to him; the call of freedom fire
Still burned strong and never would go out.
“There’s hope in a whistle, a whistle I say, a hope that’s still rising higher.”
“You can still live your life, though in sorrow or strife, just keep hope in your heart today.”

Thank you everyone.

Natalie Moutafis:
isPodcast is brought to you by Independent Schools Victoria. It's produced and recorded by Greg Lawrence and Duncan MacLean and presented by Michael Broadstock, Shane Green, and me, Natalie Moutafis. Our podcast theme was composed and performed by Duncan MacLean. You can find transcripts of our shows with links to what we've discussed at is.vic.edu.au/ispodcast. You can find isPodcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.