Illumine: A BGGS Podcast

BGGS podcast, Illumine, is capturing and elevating more voices within and beyond our School community.

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Should historical artefacts be returned?

Should artefacts, currently in museums, be returned to their country of origin?

In recent years, the debate has been gathering momentum, kick-started again in 2022 in light of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Reconciling the actions of those acting in the past with our values in the present is an issue fraught with tension, and no easy answers are apparent.

As part of her Doctoral studies, Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s Head of Ancient History, Dr Rashna Taraporewalla, has viewed historical artefacts across the world, including those held in the British Museum. In this episode, she discusses this topic with Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler, and explores some of the factors at play when teaching History to secondary school students.

Assessment that 'doesn't count' with Professor Dylan Wiliam

What makes an excellent teacher? According to acclaimed educational researcher, Emeritus Professor Dylan Wiliam, it’s about regularly checking for student understanding.

Professor Wiliam is passionate about the practice of formative assessmentthe assessment that many people say ‘doesn’t count’. Over the course of many decades of research, Professor Wiliam has established that there is nothing teachers can do that has a greater impact on student achievement than by making teaching more responsive to students’ needs through consistent, formative feedback. This is a particular focus in Year 7 at Girls Grammar, with students undertaking a ‘Philosophy of Learning’ course that sets a foundation for students to embrace academic challenges and benefit from struggles they may encounter. 

Professor Wiliam sat down with Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, Director of Creative Arts, Mr Andrew Pennay, and Head of Subject—Mathematics Curriculum Development Years 7-8, Ms Maryanne Christie, to discuss how teachers can prioritise formative feedback.

Censorship of Books, Art and Music

In early 2023, social media furore erupted after publisher, Puffin, employed sensitivity editors to rewrite parts of Roald Dahl’s books they deemed offensive.

Throughout history, artists, authors, and musicians have been censored by various authority figures, but in recent decades, activists and social media campaigns have called for pieces to be edited, ‘cancelled’, or removed from exhibitions.

How do we decide when—or ifit is appropriate to change or remove a published work?

To discuss this complicated issue, Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, is joined by Deputy Principal (Academic), Dr Bruce Addison, Director of English, Ms Jo Genders, and Visual Arts teacher, Ms Kirsten Eadie.

The path to reconciliation with Professor Adam Shoemaker

In recognition of NAIDOC Week 2023, Illumine shares Part 2 of Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, in discussion with Professor Adam Shoemaker, Vice Chancellor of Victoria University.

Much of Professor Shoemaker’s past three decades has been spent listening to, recording and sharing the work of Indigenous Australians. As one of Australia’s foremost researchers in Indigenous literature and culture, Professor Shoemaker has written nine books on the subject.

In this conversation, Professor Shoemaker shares some of the lessons he has learned through hearing the stories, wisdom and history of First Nations People. Year 12 students and members of the School’s Uralla Club—Liza Shoebridge (12B), Tung-Hi Ma (12H) and Katie Reid (12E)—also share their thoughts about being involved in the development of the School’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

The infinite benefits of international study

With so many exceptional tertiary options available in Australia, it’s no wonder the idea of international study may not always be top of mind. However, the benefits of studying overseas—for your whole degree or only for a semester or two—are endless.

To explore why overseas tertiary study can be so enriching, Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, spoke to Director of Tertiary Pathways, Ms Louise Walls, and Head of Ancient History, Dr Rashna Taraporewalla, as well as current Year 12 student, Lily Blanshard (12R), who received a unique opportunity with IE University in Madrid, Spain.

Helping women experiencing homelessness

The number of Australians, and in particular, Australian women, experiencing homelessness has never been higher and it’s a crisis that shows no sign of slowing.  As a nation, we have never been more reliant on non-profits and charitable organisations to shelter women and their children who are in crisis and have found themselves suddenly without a roof over their head.

For more than a decade, Brisbane Girls Grammar School has supported the Second Chance Programme—a charitable organisation based in Brisbane that raises awareness and support for women and their children experiencing homelessness.

In this episode of Illumine, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh sits down with Co-founder and Treasurer of the Second Chance Programme, Mrs Marjorie Morton.

Educators, ChatGPT and the world of AI

ChatGPT remains in the headlines around the world for its ability to answer seemingly anything.

Educators around the world are grappling with how to manage ChatGPT, with many schools restricting access to the platform. Is this option sustainable in the long term? Or, should we find ways to use such AI responsibly, and for our benefit?

In this episode of Illumine,  Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, discusses the potential and pitfalls of AI with James Keogh, Acting Deputy Principal (Academic), Kathryn Talbot, an English Teacher and alumna of the School, and Ben Dervish-Ali, Coordinator of Drama Productions and a classroom Drama Teacher.

Beyond the ATAR—reflections on the future of higher education

Despite research that indicates that Generation Z will have multiple careers in their lifetime, students still feel that their ATAR score is a defining moment. But it can take years, reflection and a range of experiences before individuals find the area of learning that they will thrive within. Recognising this, Australian universities are employing a range flexible models of higher education to support the diverse needs of their students.

In this episode, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, speaks with Professor Adam Shoemaker, Vice Chancellor and President of Victoria University, about the stories, lessons and ideas he has encountered through his varied and accomplished career in research and education.

Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh will join Professor Adam Shoemaker again later in 2023 to discuss Girls Grammar’s progress toward a Reconciliation Action Plan.

'Rethinking Money' in our global economy

Has the cyclical nature of the global economy in recent times made your head spin? The continuous cycle of boom, collapse, then boom again before we tip south.

We can all agree that it has been a tumultuous few years for the global economy—the pandemic, soaring property prices, supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine, and unprecedented levels of debt powering many countries, including Australia.

In this episode of Illumine, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, speaks with Head of Economics, Dr Sam Peng, about the front-row seat we have had in recent years to witness economic theory and monetary policy roar to life, and the wonderful opportunity this has given teachers and students of economics  to see these play out in ‘real-time’.

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Exploring the teacher workforce shortage

Onsite from 8 am until 5 pm with four weeks of annual leave, a 40 per cent increase for ‘highly accomplished’ or ‘lead’ teachers, ‘paid internships’ for career-changers, and $40 000 bursaries to encourage school leavers to enroll in teaching. These are all ideas currently being considered by policy makers to address the nationwide teacher shortage.

But many of these are temporary incentives, designed to attract and retain teachers in the short-term, and fail to address the complex issues contributing to the shortage.

In this episode of Illumine, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, has a candid conversation with Dr Bruce Addison, Deputy Principal (Academic) and Ms Sophie Mynott, Deputy Principal (Co-curriculum) about the ‘teacher shortage’. They discuss what they believe is causing the decline in graduates, resignation of current teachers, and hurdles for mid-career changers, and then examine the solutions being put forward, and ideas of their own for addressing the issues.

How can schools foster a culture of thinking?

Test scores and measures of achievement tell you where a student is at, but they don’t tell you where that student could end up.
– Dr Dr Carol Dweck, Psychologist and Stanford Professor

In a society that tends to measure success on results and scores, rather than on the development of characteristics that are often far more important to our students’ lives beyond school, what makes a ‘good teacher’? And perhaps equally as important, what characteristics do we think a ‘good student’ has?

In this special episode of Illumine, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler and internationally renowned educator and researcher, Dr Ron Ritchhart, discuss how when schools prioritise thinking as a discipline rather than achieving, academic excellence is a natural by-product.

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The secret to getting ahead? 'Mucking it up' first

We all must write at times—whether for a school assessment as a student, a presentation for work, or a speech at a wedding. Yet, many claim that they don’t know how to write—they weren’t ‘blessed with this gift’, or they ‘aren’t creative enough’.  But what if we treated the skill of writing like we do, learning to drive a car, for example? Understanding that it takes practice, getting out of our comfort zone, and risking failure in order to succeed?

In this episode of Illumine, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler and Head of Literature, Miss Meghan Parry, discuss the idea of ‘failing forward’, and how often, the secret to great writing is ‘mucking it up’ the first time, in order to pave the way for a great piece.

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Part 2: Why do we need educational institutions now, more than ever? Discussion with Prof. Deborah Terry AO

Welcome to the second-half of our two-part series featuring Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of Queensland (UQ). Hosted by Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, this half of their conversation delves into Professor Terry’s career in research and tertiary education, and looks at memorable moments that helped to set her on this path.

Also discussed, are the many challenges facing young people today, and how educational institutions might be some of the best placed organisations to help address these concerns.

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Part 1: Why do we need educational institutions now, more than ever? Discussion with Prof. Deborah Terry AO

In a world where Google gives us boundless information and answers instantaneously, a world where remote learning has become a norm and corporate sponsored think tanks just keep popping up, do we still need educational institutions?

Welcome to a special episode of Illumine featuring Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of Queensland. Hosted by Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, this two-part conversation explores the role that educational institutions play in our lives, and the purpose that they serve in today’s society.

Lessons for Thriving in a Feedback Culture

We all benefit from a learning community where students are open and responsive to feedback on their work, and where teachers expect to receive student feedback too.

In this episode, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler and Head of Department—English Curriculum Development, David Rawson, discuss how we can use feedback as a non-threatening tool to begin the process of dismantling students’ fears around imperfection and work towards subject mastery.

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Seaon 2, Episode 6

How Traditions Shape a School

Brisbane Girls Grammar School is steeped in tradition. Traditions are central to our success as they are expressions—things, events, activities, beliefs—passed on from generation to generation. They form our culture and demonstrate who we are.

In this episode, Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler, speaks with School History and Culture Manager, Mrs Pauline Harvey-Short OAM, about why traditions are important to understand and retain, and how engaging with traditions both old and new can help define and unite a community.

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Seaon 2, Episode 5

Vulnerability and Technology in Remote Learning

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that young people in this world are a lot more adaptable than we give them credit for. Our students want to learn. However when forced to learn from home for weeks or months at a time,  vulnerability can surface in many ways—the most common of which is disengagement.

Rather than responding with frustration, this is where teachers need to be understanding and  incorporate a wider range of learning techniques.

In this episode, Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler, speaks to passionate Technologies Teacher, Ms Nisha Swanston, about the challenges of remote teaching, and resisting the ‘chalk and talk’ which can often take over Zoom lessons.

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Seaon 2, Episode 4

Financial Literacy for Young Women

Women have been, and are continuing to be, left behind in financial wellbeing.

More than 40 per cent of women find money decisions overwhelming and stressful, and a recent survey experiment undertaken by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Centre found that about one third of the financial literacy gender gap can be attributed to women’s lower confidence levels.

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Season 2, Episode 3

Sexual Consent Education

In this first episode of Illumine—From the Students, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, sits down with Year 11 students, Elise, Leia and Gigi, to find out how they prepare for exams, manage stress, and approach their studies with confidence.

Season 2, Episode 2

Nature for Nurture

We live in a world that has become increasingly complex and fast paced. Our modern-day society has embraced an unrelenting momentum that energises us and drives us. It can also challenge us, and if this challenge becomes too great it can interfere with our wellbeing.

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Season 2, Episode 1

International Women’s Day 2021: Women in Leadership

In the latest episode, Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, speaks with Ms Julie McKay (BGGS 2000), Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Officer at pwc, about the pivotal role schools play in encouraging and developing women leaders.

Season 1

Michael Banney, Director, m3architecture

Brisbane Girls Grammar School opened its new seven-storey Science Learning Centre in October 2020. In this episode, Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler, speaks to the building’s architect, Michael Banney, about designing spaces that surprise, delight, and facilitate deep learning.

Ms Alison Dare, Director of Humanities

Many teachers grew up believing that world history followed an upward trajectory—toward a more free, liberal and democratic future. However, democracy—once a beacon of hope—has failed in 25 countries since the turn of the century. How can the study of humanities empower students to navigate an increasingly complex world?

Head of Science Curriculum Development, Ms Gerri Bernard

‘Why?’ Although it may not be the first question that a young child asks, any parent can attest to the fact that it soon becomes one of the most frequent. How can educators harness students’ innate curiosity to develop their scientific literacy skills?

In this episode our host and Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, interviews Head of Science Curriculum Development, Ms Gerri Bernard, about how she introduces and encourages the critical skills of forming hypotheses, analysing credible evidence and justifying conclusions.

The conversation covers:

  • How do you nurture students’ curiosity?
  • Can Science teachers empower students to make good decisions?
  • Why do you love Astronomy, and how is it taught?
  • What inspired you to teach science?

Read Gerri's article

School Psychologist, Dr Alix Vann

In subtle and well-socialised ways, we are often encouraged to look to the world around us to find a sense of certainty and stability. Experiences like the COVID-19 pandemic force us, on a global scale, to realise that no matter what, none of us is immune to feeling, and none of us can truly control what goes on around us.

In this episode, our host and Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, interviews School Psychologist, Dr Alix Vann, and discusses the power of turning inward in times of crisis.

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Ms Jo Genders, Director of English

Being able to discern meaning and truth from agenda and biases is believed by many to be an essential skill for our young people today. But how do educators teach critical thinking  while facing increased pressure to measure (and report on) more tangible learning outcomes?

In this episode our host and Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, interviews Ms Jo Genders, Director of English, about how students are learning to critically analyse literary texts.

The conversation covers:

  • Where does a love of literature come from?
  • Why is Jane Eyre still relevant?
  • What is the Harvard Project Zero approach to learning – and what is ‘messy work’?
  • Jo’s book recommendations.

Read Jo's article

Dr Bruce Addison, Deputy Principal (Academic)

How can we ensure our students are appropriately educated about important topics—and yet not overcome by them? What role do schools play in preparing students to contribute positively to their communities?

In this episode our host and Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Ms Jacinda Euler, interviews Dr Bruce Addison, Deputy Principal (Academic), about the power of educating for hope.

The conversation covers:

  • What is ‘deep learning’?
  • Has the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) changed the way students learn?
  • How can young people become thinkers who ‘notice’?
  • How can adults role-model optimism?

Read Bruce's article