Extract from FCJ College Benalla Newsletter – October 28th 2016

FCJ College conducts an exciting learning program in the school curriculum. Hands on Learning (HOL) has been operating within schools throughout Australia over many years.

The program aims at providing an alternative learning framework for disengaged students who are finding school life difficult and are having trouble trying to focus. The course encourages and teaches students to achieve their full potential, be more positive and confident in their daily life. The students are then able to reconnect with their school and community.
HOL is a different learning approach for students and enables individual and group orientated goals to be achieved. A more natural habitat for mentoring, counselling and role modelling, is provided within small teams.
The benefits of HOL are highly effective as it is run by the school, within the school. Around ten students work with two teachers one day a week on creative building projects that benefit the school and the local community.

One of the teachers is an artisan employed by the school with assistance from the Tomorrow Today Foundation.
While enrolled in the program each student remains connected with the school, participates in real life projects every week and then returns to their normal classes in a calmer manner.

Hands on Learning offers an alternative environment to regular classes. The program allows students to actively participate one day a week in various practical projects, which may be within the school or outside in the local community. Some Hands on Learning activities include building, constructing fences, paving, general landscaping, painting, sculpture, carving, bricklaying, and horticulture activities. These projects are planned and completed by students with guidance.

Why Hands on Learning?
HOL was implemented to provide students with a wider choice of curriculum. It is intentionally designed to provide an alternative learning environment to the classroom structure. New skills can be learned by doing and experiencing a wide range of hands on activities.

Learning Outcomes
In this practical environment, students gain a sense of accomplishment. This in turn positively reinforces their self –concept, which helps to build new confidences. Students enjoy developing new skills through practical learning experiences. A strong sense of community develops during the term as the students work together in a team for the whole day and share a meal together with their teachers.

Success of the structure
The mixed structure of the groups, with girls and boys, and the range of age groups (Years 7-10), provides an opportunity for leadership skills to be developed by the older students and proves a positive learning environment for the younger students taking a natural lead from the older ones in the group.

Programs in other schools have demonstrated how a small group of students can produce amazing results, in a very short space of time. The students are often amazed at what they can achieve. HOL presents a great opportunity to foster positive attitudes towards one’s self, school and community, in many cases leading to improvement in attendance, behaviour, academic performance and success in gaining meaningful employment.