DR ROSALIND WALSH
CATALYST COORDINATOR

 

What I actually wanted to do was to go back into the classroom and have an impact on individual students.

 
Dr Rosalind Walsh oversees the Catalyst Program at Queenwood, designing activities to extend students through initiatives like Tournament of Minds, Mock Trial, Mooting, QResearch project with Sydney University and Model United Nations. By challenging the abilities of the students, and fostering relationships with mentors, Dr Walsh is able to push the boundaries of curriculum and help students develop their passions.

Being back in school has also made me realise the gap that exists between educational research and educational practice.

Although I was trained as a high school teacher, most of my teaching experience was with primary school children. Macquarie University was offering a PhD scholarship to study gifted children in the early childhood years. Macquarie has always been a world leader in Early Childhood Education and I was excited to combine what I knew about gifted children with learning about early childhood practice. I thought I would stay at the university and continue my research, but I really missed working with teachers and students. The life of a research academic can be quite solitary, which was not for me. I spent 10 years working at the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC) at the University of New South Wales. It was a very exciting time. We went from being an office of two casual staff to a full research centre with about 1000 school students coming on campus every holidays for programs and over 1000 teachers completing the Certificate of Gifted Education program. We also won a federal government contract to write a professional development program for schools Australia-wide in Gifted Education.

I realised when I was working with one school over a full year that what I actually wanted to do was to go back into the classroom and have an impact on individual students. This year I've been working with some Year 8 and 9 girls, and our STEM Professionals-in-Schools Dr Camilla Hoyos (Class of 1998) on the QResearch Project. The girls identified research that they wanted to carry out using the Queenwood population as their sample. The girls are investigating some really interesting topics such as whether there is a link between the ability to delay gratification and academic success; links between empathy and happiness; the effect of words on memory for events; and the links between musical achievement and motivation.

Being back in school has also made me realise the gap that exists between educational research and educational practice. There are some things that are taken for granted in the research, for example, that academically talented students need challenge. The educational reality is that not all students want to be challenged 100% of the time. I think there needs to be balance at school.