Introducing Our Academic in Residence at GPCC

Q&A with our new Academic in Residence Dr. Martin Dowson 

We put some questions to our new Academic in Residence, Dr Martin Dowson, as he has begun working with Green Point Christian College this term. 

Briefly tell us about yourself and your background. What has led you to the role of Academic in Residence at GPCC?

I grew up on the Central Coast (at Tumbi Umbi), attending the Entrance Primary and Entrance High Schools. I moved to Sydney to attend university, where I met my wife Dianne (who is currently Director of a Christian Special Needs School in Sydney). We have been married for 33 years, and have two adult children (one boy and one girl). I have spent most of my working life in Higher Education – including roles at Western Sydney University, the University of Texas, Sydney College of Divinity, and the University of Divinity (Melbourne). I have known the Principal, Mr Nash, for 20 years collaborating most recently through my work on the Philosophy of Christian Education. It is a privilege to now reconnect formally as GPCC’s first Academic in Residence.

This is a unique and diverse role, but can you summarise it for us in a few sentences?

My role is to support, enhance and extend the academic life of the College. The College is already heavily involved in academic activities surrounding student learning and teaching, staff professional development, and community engagement in the College’s learning community. My role includes contributing to, and evaluating, these activities to help ensure that these activities optimally assist the College to achieve its Purpose and Mission Goals.

Why is it important for GPCC to reflect on its activities as an academic institution? 

Like other Christian (and secular) schools and colleges, GPCC is constantly adapting to the changing educational, vocational and personal needs of its students. Ideally, these adaptations are based on strategic and systematic reflection in order to preserve the philosophical and missional beliefs underpinning each school. GPCC takes its responsibility to preserve its beliefs seriously, and so engages in careful and thoughtful refection on adaptations and additions to its educational profile. 

This role involves thinking theologically about what the school is doing and basing this thinking on sound research and evidence. How will you go about this thinking process?

I have multidisciplinary background in education, psychology, theology and philosophy. I intend to use this background to take a holistic approach to appreciating and evaluating the activities of GPCC, so as to arrive at balanced recommendations concerning the College’s present and future activities. 

There are a number of specific responsibilities in your role, but tell us what you have been focusing on as you have started this term?

As you might imagine, I have spent quite a bit of time getting to know staff and coming to understand the College’s already well-developed suite of educational programs. I have also begun analysing the College’s recent HSC and NAPLAN data, and have briefed staff on the preliminary results of those analyses. I have contributed to the development of the College’s Professional Development Framework for 2022, and, and am looking forward to contributing to Literacy support for students undertaking their minimum literacy requirements for the HSC.

What exciting initiatives or projects are currently underway at GPCC?

We are currently working on plans to bolster student literacy (including Biblical literacy), research student engagement and motivation, disseminate teacher developed resources across faculties, further integrate Christian understandings within and across the curriculum, and analyse student achievement databases in order help teachers continue to optimise their instruction and instructional decisions.   

What do you see as the opportunity to mentor and support for both students and teachers? 

I will primarily focus on providing teachers with the academic resources they require to enhance their teaching, and foster their own learning and professional development. My role is not to be a teacher. However, as appropriate, I will engaged in mentoring students around generic literacy and numeracy issues, and concerning the development of an informed appreciation and understanding of Christianity.