The value of our Howqua program

Our unique Year 9 Howqua program is an extensive academic, pastoral and outdoor program for the full school year in the Victorian High Country.

“In a sense we have two brains, two minds and two different kinds of intelligence: rational and emotional.” Daniel Goleman

The Howqua program offers to our students a real opportunity to build the foundational blocks of emotional intelligence. Author Daniel Goleman believes that employers today are looking for employees who know how to handle themselves and each other, through their demonstration of the four components of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and empathy.

Emotional intelligence means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work well together toward achievement of their common goals. Fortunately, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned and continues to develop as we go through life and learn from experiences. We can improve our emotional intelligence and become more adept at handling our emotions and impulses, motivating ourselves and honing our empathy and social adroitness.

Our Howqua program provides valuable opportunities for the development of emotional intelligence. Firstly, the girls live in Houses where they must learn to manage their own emotions, understand the emotions of others and learn to work together.

As the year progresses, students, staff and parents observe the growing ability of each girl to assess her own emotions and self-regulate, while developing a better understanding of how and why other girls respond to situations that arise. Girls may feel more empathy for the other person who is challenged by some aspect of the program and they may feel more confident to confront the behaviour of others and explain how a change in that behaviour will benefit themselves and the others in the House.

Outdoor Program certainly supports the ability of the girls to communicate effectively and cooperate or collaborate with others. Once again, seeing the perspective of others who are challenged at different points of a hike or overnight camp, and demonstrating a level of understanding for them, supports all girls in the group to work together and achieve their goals.

I went into the Dining Room to have lunch with the staff and girls on one of my recent visits, and I observed the girls who had serving responsibilities on the day. Each girl had her designated responsibility and all girls had to work together to make sure that everyone could eat lunch and return to lessons. Every girl on the campus must undertake kitchen and dining room duties throughout each term and there are opportunities to develop initiative, cooperation, communication skills and emotional awareness for self and others.

The skills which our girls develop at our Howqua campus are important for life and future employability. It is rare for young people to have so many opportunities to begin the development of emotional intelligence.

I am fortunate to see how our girls continue to develop their emotional intelligence when our students return from the Howqua campus. As we have completed the last few weeks of Term 1, I have listened to our students speak at Assembly about topics ranging from inclusiveness to multiculturalism with insightfulness and empathy. I watch them as they listen to their peers when they speak or play in the orchestra or perform in a play. They listen with respect and show their appreciation for the talents demonstrated. The sporting achievements of the girls are valued not only because they compete well but also for their teamwork and camaraderie.

It has been a pleasure to complete the Term with our staff and students attending school each day and our activities returning to close to normal. As we celebrate our 120th anniversary in 2021 my greatest wish was that we would be together, and this wish has been fulfilled.