Community News

How Learning Has Changed

Picture of Nicholas Moloney
How Learning Has Changed
by Nicholas Moloney - Tuesday, 8 September 2020, 4:18 PM

As Marcellin College celebrates 70 years, I recollect on how learning has changed since I was at the College as a student.

I began at Marcellin in 1984 as a Year 7 student at the Junior School campus on Canterbury Road, Camberwell. The Junior school was very different to my Primary School of St Bede’s in Nth Balwyn. The yard was mostly asphalt with a row of about a dozen cricket nets. Lunchtime would see most students lining up to have a bat and bowl with their mates.

I remember there were some very strict teachers in those days who would not let you talk during class time and others that invited discussion and wanted your opinion. I very much enjoyed the subjects of Science and Maths. Unfortunately, there was not the facilities to undertake science experiments so much of what we learnt was all theory based. I do remember much of my learning was done sitting in rows and listening to the teacher and taking notes from the blackboard.

Our PE classes always started with the entire class running around the block. Being an athlete myself, I always managed to come last with the teacher yelling at me “hurry up, Moloney”. I didn’t appreciate this at the time but now interpret his efforts in pushing me to do a little bit better each run.

In Year 9 we then moved across to the Senior school in Bulleen. I was amazed at how big the school was and there was grass! Our Homerooms in those days were in our class groups. There was no vertical structure and we dare not speak to an older boy without fear of coping a mouthful at the very least. I am so pleased those days are gone and we now have Year 12 students as Big Brother to the Year 7’s. This sense of community and belonging is far stronger in today’s schools.

Again, I remember most of my learning was the class sitting in rows listening to the teacher who was all wise and possessed all the knowledge. Their job was to fill students’ heads with content, like pouring water onto a sponge. Unlike technology today, if I wanted to investigate a topic or interest I would go to the library and look up topics in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Knowledge is everywhere and accessible anytime in today’s world. A teachers job today is to help students interpret and understand the content, but more importantly to help shape the young man he will become. 

There was a Marist Brother who taught me Maths A in Year 11. He had a reputation for being exceptionally strict. As students we would get to class ten minutes before the bell, line up and enter the class in silence. Brother would walk out about halfway through the lesson (I learnt later to have a cigarette) but nobody dared talk in his absence. I remember ten or fifteen minutes would pass and not a word was spoken. I am so pleased those days of ‘ruling’ by fear have gone. Marcellin today is about relationships and all members of our community working in partnership to ensure we get the best from the young men.

The last aspect I feel Marcellin does much better today is providing opportunities for our young men to learn about their Faith. Religion was just a theory class in my day; however, today’s students are involved in social justice activities, Christian Service, Immersion programs to Bourke and Cambodia, Remar and the list goes on. If you asked a Marcellin student today about the Marist characteristics I am confident he could recite these with ease and explain their purpose.

Overall, I enjoyed my days as a student at Marcellin. It helped shaped who I am today which may explain why I am still committed to the College thirty years later!