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07
September
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 7/09/12

One of the issues I raised in the TEDxParramatta talk was the four things needed for education are: a teacher; a pupil; knowledge; and a flow or interaction usually involving language and speech. The teacher can be a paid, trained, skillful professional; or it can be…. anyone or anything. 

For example, I was in a carparking area a few months ago and a kind lady offered me a parking ticket which still had some time on it.  I was grateful and expressed my thanks.  When she had gone I felt I had “gushed”, because of a slightly uncomfortable feeling of reluctance to accept other people’s generosity.  It was a small thing but I found it instructive.  That lady - and the situation – without knowing it, was my teacher.

But for a teacher’s lesson to work, it does require a willing pupil who is ready to learn.  Shantananda Saraswati says that no one can learn anything without respecting the teacher.  That respect, in the form of a willing ear listening to what the teacher has to impart, is crucial. 

Hence our emphasis on respect, as one of our five core values.  The teachers try to model this by respecting each other and respecting the children.  And we ask the children to enact this by standing when adults come into the room, addressing adults politely and fully, and so on.  All this creates a respectful atmosphere where the knowledge can flow easily.

On another note:  the P & F stalwarts have worked long and hard to put together a Trivia Night which is a fundraiser and which is also fun and sociable.  Sadly Mrs Mane and I were already booked to go to Brisbane to see relatives, but I would love to hear how mightily successful this event was on all fronts!

Headmaster’s TED talk online
To view the talk by Mr Mane at the recent TEDxParramatta conference, click this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzih5tNiG18&feature=plcp
The link is also on our school website under the ‘Latest News’ menu item.

 

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

03
September
2012

Ancient secrets of mental calculation revealed

If you know a quick way to square any number that ends in five, perhaps you’ve had some lessons in Vedic Mathematics.

John Colet School is running an enrichment course in Vedic Mathematics for children from 3rd - 6th classes.  The course focuses on extending students laterally through an alternative system of maths that has its origins in ancient India. 

The exercises and skills taught are not intended to replace students’ understanding of mainstream maths, but rather to enhance mental calculation and creative capacities.

The classes are being run as an extracurricular activity after school.  A common response from children taking part is: “Why were we not shown this before?”

 


Categories: Chess & Clubs, Science & Maths, John Colet

03
September
2012

5th class maths and science

5th class have been working on Geometric Patterns as well as 3D shapes in maths lessons recently. Resource maths books purchased using P & F funds helped to provide creative ideas for running these maths lessons. One lesson involved constructing geometric patterns of octagons and hexagons with a challenge of finding the way to make a certain number of shapes with the least number of toothpicks. Other lessons involved constructing 3D shapes from plasticine, drawing them and then transferring shapes to isometric views.

In science lessons we have been planting seeds in half-egg-shells to investigate whether the roots of the plants will break the egg-shells. So far none have broken through but it is early days! The class is waiting with bated breath for the first egg-shell to break. Will it be a carrot striving to break through? Or perhaps a radish or basil? Or even the mysterious borage plant? Time will tell ….  All resources were purchased from P & F funds with Mrs Moor using the cracked eggs to make staff lunches so nothing went to waste!


Categories: Science & Maths, John Colet

03
September
2012

Father's Day treats

Upper First students decorated iced biscuits with their Dads' faces for a Father's Day gift this year, rounding out their study of art through the five senses. And yes, they certainly tasted good.  The biscuits were sent home in little bags attached to handmade cards depicting Dad's face, this time rendered in fruit.  In doing their cards, the children learnt about  the artwork of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, an Italian artist from the 1500s who composed portraits from fruits and
vegetables.
 

Categories: Art classes, John Colet

29
August
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 31/08/12

With the Infant’s Shakespeare Festival only just brought to a glorious conclusion the Primary is now starting to gain momentum, and the Bard’s words can again be heard reverberating throughout the school.  It’s amazing how the children get better from year to year.  They look as if they have reached the peak of what children their age can do, and then go on to excel themselves.

Also, at the present time, there is  much practice around the school in the sporting area as the Infants prepare for their carnival, which is always such a delight, and so good for the children in terms of building fortitude, courage, sportsmanship and much more.  Mrs Dunn took our best sports children to the IPSHA Athletics Carnival last Tuesday and they certainly made a valiant effort - a good time was had by all, particularly Mrs Dunn!

We very much appreciate your co-operation in the area of uniform and understand that it’s not always easy, particularly with hats and caps.  The standard of uniform has been good over the term and we wish to thank you for your co-operation and continued efforts.

The children are still practicing “service” and the school has a harmonious feel about it – the children certainly seem very happy.


 

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

29
August
2012

Floating on a sea of stories

A student recount about a school incursion

Last week a lady came and told us stories from Japan.  They were like legends.  She used puppets and props.  She told three stories: The Crane Fairy, The Piece of Straw and The Boy in a Peach.
My favourite story was The Crane Fairy.  Once upon a time an old man and an old woman who made boats and sails, found a crane-bird in a net. They rescued it and nursed it back to health. It flew away. Then, disguised as a girl, came back and made sails.
The girl said "do not look in my room when I am making sails!" But one day they looked! OH NO! There was the crane, it was using its feathers to make sails, then she flew away.
By Amelia O
Upper First C



Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

29
August
2012

Playground snaps

A small group of second class boys in their ‘playground hideout’. The imagination can certainly run wild in a semi-bush playground and the Year 2 boys have taken advantage of all the wonderful fallen branches, twigs and rocks that are in abundance - some budding architects/engineers there I’m sure.
- Leisa Brown - Teacher’s aide

Categories: John Colet

28
August
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 31/08/12

From the Archive...

In the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday Dr Timothy Hawkes, the Headmaster of The Kings School, listed ten which things which he felt were not covered adequately by the standard curriculum. How to:

Live in a community and forge good relationships;


Communicate well;

Know yourself and what you believe;

Handle intimacy and sex;

Control emotions and impulses;

Manage financial matters;

Do practical things, to clean, cook, make and mend;

Be good mannered and know etiquette;

Accept responsibility;

Be resilient and deal with grief and loss. 

I think this is a good list and, while all need family input and some are more appropriate for high school, I feel that John Colet School addresses many of them. But it did occur to me that, as in school so in life, you can’t pass a test you haven’t studied for. All the lessons in the world on kindness, for example, won’t get a jot of compassion out of someone who hasn’t worked to make it a natural part of their dealings with others. Making a virtue natural means hearing about it, seeing others live it and then, most importantly, practising it until it becomes natural. In this way the above list can become a practical guide for life rather than an unrealistic pipedream. We as parents and teachers help enormously when, for example, we model and encourage the children to control impulses, accept responsibility and be resilient.

As the Headmaster has been away sick this week, this 2008 comment is from the archive.

Also, because of illness and last minute timetabling difficulties, our final round debate with Alexander School has been postponed.

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

24
August
2012

Debating - the final is nigh

In 6th class a team of debaters – usually between eight and ten children – is selected and we then debate against several local schools.  Each of the team members gets to be in at least one debate where we brainstorm the topic, decide on who is going to be 1st, 2nd or 3rd speaker; prepare their three minute speech and then deliver it before an audience of children and teachers.

There are four preliminary debates and then a final between the two schools with the most wins.  This year John Colet is in the final against the Alexander School.
This final will be held next Wednesday at the German School.

The topic of the final debate is:  Wisdom is better than strength.  And we are the negative team.  This is a very challenging argument and has required us to delve deep into what we mean by “wisdom” and “strength”. 

We found it helpful to go back to the source of the phrase in Ecclesiastes 19:16:  Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

We have had extremely lively and creative brainstorming sessions and the children are busily preparing their arguments, examples and rebuttals of arguments we think the other team will raise.  Wish us luck – break an egg indeed!
- Mr Mane

Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

24
August
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 24/08/12

The Infants Shakespeare Festival, which saw each class give two full dress rehearsals and then three performances over a fortnight, was a triumph of organisation, creativity and shear hard work from all involved – parents, teachers and children. Profound thanks and congratulations to all involved.
The Shakespeare Festival exemplifies the two fundamental elements which we believe will give children the tools to develop themselves into fine young men and women:  first, the company of truthful, emotionally mature teachers; and, second, giving them the best possible input.
Shantananda Saraswati, who recommended this approach said, the children should be in good company; and be provided with good material.
Of the good material, such as Shakespeare, he says:  “If they take it, they will be good enough to look for what they need and build their character accordingly.”  In other words the individual child has a role to play here.
The adults who love and care for the children – their parents and teachers – should, and do, give as much fine input as they can, and set as good an example as possible.  But ultimately it is the child, and all too soon, the young adult, who will have to take what they can of this rich, stimulating and creative mix of influences, and build their own character and life in their own completely unique way.
That’s the part that no one else can (or should) do for them.

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

24
August
2012

Chess success

Hello Chess Enthusiasts,
I have some wonderful news to report.  Yesterday (Thursday 23/8) Brigitte S, Ashleigh E and Mi Mi P came 2nd in the Rookie division of the NSW Interschool Girls Teams Chess Challenge 2012!
A huge CONGRATULATIONS to these Girls!
Many thanks to Marina B for transporting the girls to and from Strathfield for the competition.
-          Heather B, Chess Coordinator

Categories: Chess & Clubs, John Colet

22
August
2012

To the Fish Stall!

A play in Latin

The senior Latin students were snapped this week rehearsing a play, all in Latin, about the goings on during a shopping expedition for a family dinner.
The four minute play, called "To the fish stall!" will be performed on 4th September for the delight and entertainment of two classics teachers who are visiting John Colet School.  One of them is Emily Matters, the head of the Classical Language Teachers' Association.
Proud parents will be welcome to come and watch too!
Students who have completed the Spelling course study Latin.  These senior classes are taken each week by the Headmaster.  Linguistically, Latin underpins much of English and is therefore an excellent additional subject.  As it doesn't involve a different alphabet and has a simpler grammar than Sanskrit, the students find it relatively easy to learn.



Categories: Writing & Speaking, Shakespeare & Drama, John Colet

22
August
2012

Meeting Mark Greenwood, author

Senior school incursion on storytelling and writing

Last Friday, 3rd,4th,5th and 6th classes got to meet an amazing author called Mark Greenwood.  He writes about myths and legends.  They were extremely exciting.  He told us his stories and journey.  He wasn't just an author, he was a bit of a traveller.  Mark Greenwood wrote a story about Lasseter, a man who found heaps of gold.  Lasseter's family was in a poor state, but he didn't want to go to the gold out in the desert because he nearly died there last time. But eventually he went out and found the gold, unfortunately his camels ran away so he died.  But not before leaving clues to the gold. 

Mark Greenwood studied all these clues and followed them to a cave and dug and found Lasseter's diary and gold.

That story was our favourite!  It was a fantastic incursion, we enjoyed it so much.
Written by Brigitte and Jaanavi.


Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

22
August
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 24/08/12

Happy, but weary, the Infants cohort can now look back on yet another successful Shakespeare Festival, and of course for the Lower First it was the beginning of what we hope will be a seven-year courtship of Shakespeare.

Parents are to be thanked for their usual indefatigable support of the event (there was an extra one this year due to the small size of the space), which includes providing and selling food and tickets, as well as making costumes, doing hair and makeup and being a wonderful, enthusiastic audience.  The latter is of course the most important aspect!
Primary are full steam ahead with preparation for their Festival at Glen Street Theatre in November, and they have been inspired by the performance of the younger children.
 












Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

22
August
2012

What the Primary Choir is up to - Part 1

Speech Night preparations have begun in earnest by the Primary Choir. So soon?.... I hear you ask!  Each year all the choirs perform twice. The Infants Choir at Open Day and at the Christmas Celebration concert and nativity play. The Primary Choir and John Colet Choir both perform at Open Day and at Speech Night in December. We start the preparations for Open Day at the beginning of the year and for Speech Night at the beginning of term 3.

The first step is to learn all the notes and parts; just like learning lines for a play but it’s a musical part with notes. We take care at this crucial stage to ensure the notes are learnt accurately because music is so powerful that if notes are learnt incorrectly, they get in so deeply and quickly that it’s very difficult to fix it up at later rehearsals. The note learning stage is the foundation of the performance you hear and see on stage but it’s not that exciting to do. The primary children have been excellent in rehearsals. They bring a book or their Shakespeare script with them and if their part is not being taught, they read quietly or learn their play lines while they wait their turn – a win win!

We aim to have all the notes and parts learnt by the end of term 3. This allows them to be completely absorbed in their Shakespeare play for the first half of term 4 without the stress (on the teacher’s side) of also trying to learn Speech Night parts. Once the Primary Shakespeare Festival is over at the end of week 4, the rest of the term’s choir rehearsals are given over to consolidating, refining and polishing for Speech Night since all the parts have been learnt. The performance always includes solo items by the Head Chorister and often other children too.

The Speech Night concert program aims to expose the children to some of the finest and greatest choral music. We rotate around a four year program of Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel and Mozart. Last year was Handel’s Messiah and this year is an all Mozart program.

Look out for the next blog post on the Primary Choir with more details on the program itself.
- Mrs Mane

 

Categories: Chess & Clubs, John Colet

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