THE BEAUTY OF EDUCATION AT Q STATION
A Reflection by julie regalado
I have been here for nearly eleven years and what an amazing experience it has been! As a lifelong learner and educator, this exceptional site has pushed me to abandon any pretence of ‘knowing it all’ or ever ‘being the expert’- as the richness and complexity of it is always more than any one person can encompass.
This site of Q Station reveals the 60,000 year history of the Aboriginal people who have known this place, North Head, as a rocky out crop on the banks of a river when the land extended much further out into what is now the Tasman Sea. Clues of this culture now known to be the oldest continuing culture in the world and one to have survived and adapted to an ice age and all that came after that, are here when we pay attention.
This place reminds us of first contacts, early migration and settlement, of infectious disease, death and survival. It tells of ships’ voyages and the hopes and dreams of those on the ships. It reminds us of the doctors and nurses who worked and died here, of families that lived here, immigrants detained here, and the Vietnamese orphans brought here at the fall of Saigon. And, then, of course, there’s the ghosts!
When the penguins make their way into the harbour at fire light, when the white cockatoos forage on the cones from the massive Hoop Pine, when that big crow sits in the tree outside the Visitor Centre and squawks loudly as I try to talk with a school excursion group, when the black cockatoos cry out in those plaintive tones, the blue tongue lizards sun on the pathway, and the echidnas wander the grassy area on the hill, you realise that there is more here than any one of us can ever fully know.
So, my tactic as a learner and educator has been to try to stay humble and curious and to look at how the Teaching & Learning team can facilitate an experience that is about discovery and meaning-making. On the Education Programs you will hear a few dates and lots of stories, go into heritage buildings, play in the sand, get your hands on artefacts, and the Education guides will ask a lot of questions. And while the programs are aligned with the NSW and Australian curriculum, our whole purpose, really, is to facilitate a meaningful experience that connects us with this place and its many stories.
In a recent article in Education HQ Gordon Cairns comments on what he observes of himself and his colleagues as mimicking badly behaved students in Professional Development (PD) situations. At Q Station, while we may occasionally get cold reactions or suspicious eyebrows at the beginning of a school’s visit or teacher PD workshop, we very rarely see that by the end of it. Cairns suggests that teachers put the mobile phones away and use such experiences to understand what is meaningful for any age learner, and how to foster relevant learning situations. This is what the Teaching & Learning team at Q Station do every day –as our teaching environment is always changing and there is always more to learn.
I have often thought that with so many educational services moving to online delivery, places like Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park will become even more crucial in how we, humans, learn to make sense of how we live on this planet.
I feel privileged and honoured to have worked at Q Station and to have gotten this opportunity to know this exceptional site. It is the banksias & tea trees, the flannel flowers, sandstone outcroppings, the sparkling harbour, and the sunshine wattle that have taught me about my adopted country of Australia and what it means for me to be Australian. For this, I will be forever grateful!
If you would like to bring your class to Q Station for a school excursion, contact 02 9466 1566 or H8773-CR3@accor.com or alternatively fill out the Education Program enquiry form here.