The value of lifelong learning

Harry Chester is the 2019 Captain of School and a boarder in School House. He presents his views on learning and why it should never end.

Learning is something we do for our whole lives. And just as each of us live our lives differently, so too do we learn in different ways. Learning therefore cannot be simplified to a single method; there are multiple approaches and strategies to suit our own unique competencies. This is perhaps the most significant lesson – we must recognise that each individual learns, acquires and applies knowledge in their own distinct way.

Learning goes through stages.  It begins where we acquire a basic understanding or skill, being instructed or shown how to perform a certain function. For example, when I was younger and developing physically, I was taught how to kick a soccer ball, how to manoeuvre through cones and control the ball.  Even though I was not particularly fit nor very competitive, I would work hard on Sunday morning training with the eventual hope of contributing to a team in the future. Perhaps being young played to my optimistic attitude, because I was thrilled by the thought of combining my skills with those around me, to create something even bigger.

This process, this shift in desire to take skills that have been taught and learnt and then apply them elsewhere with a finer goal in mind is, in my opinion, what true learning is. This doesn’t mean skills are better learnt and applied in a larger group in every instance; rather, the step that you take, regardless of the scenario, from the initial stage of learning to the application of that skill, is where we can find our greatest potential and where we can learn the most.

This entire concept of learning through application is what I believe constitutes life-long learning itself. According to our School values, Melbourne Grammar aims to encourage engagement, creativity and ‘lifelong learners.’ To me, a lifelong learner is someone who takes what they learn and aims to apply it in different situations, both individually and as a collective, in order to advance their understanding of that very thing. Melbourne Grammar has provided exactly that opportunity for me. The diversified environment that students encounter has developed and matured my desire to continue to absorb, to acquire and to learn. It’s one of Melbourne Grammar’s greatest strengths.

It might be a cliché, but when people preach ‘never stop learning’, this resonates with me – as I hope it will for all students, staff and parents. It is so important for us to expand our horizons –academically, in the community, in sports and the arts – and to constantly strive to engage ourselves fully in all that we undertake.

Harry Chester 2019 Captain of School