John Colet
23
May
2014

Thoughts on thinking

I’m still focusing on the issue of teaching thinking skills to the children. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the first step which is stillness.  Stillness can be a challenge.  Many of us find that when we try to be still a dance band strikes up in our heads and we are led a merry dance consisting of disconnected thoughts, dreams, images, feelings, memories, simple associations and so on.  

And these can take us into a world of emotions such as anxiety, fear, insecurity and doubt, which then feed back into that busy world of thought.  This, to say the least, is not a good place to start for the cool clear application of reason to a problem or situation.

So the basic prescription is, firstly, to find an effective technique for becoming inwardly still; and then secondly to practice giving simple uncluttered attention to the situation which lies before you.  The third step is to respond in the way which, in the circumstances, seems most appropriate.  The basic idea is to connect with reality.  To see and hear and feel what is actually happening in front of you, rather than respond to inner fears and hopes and unrealistic expectations.

Hence, at John Colet we punctuate the children’s day with regular moments of stillness, and connection with the here-and-now.  This is practice for the main game when, it is hoped, they will have the instinctive well-practised ability to apply reason and attention to anything life throws at them.

Answer to last week’s riddle about the paths to life and death, and the liar and the truth-teller ready to answer one question:  The question, which can be addressed to either man is – “I want to travel the path to life, what path would the other fellow tell me to take?”  And then, whatever answer you get, take the other path.

This week’s question:  Cur gallina per viam transire maluit?  Your answer can be in English, but give yourself bonus marks for answering in Latin!

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

16
May
2014

Open Day Art Attack

Be sure to visit all our classrooms

Our Lower First (kindergarten) classrooms at the top of the driveway will be full of artworks for parents to see.  A whole term of work has been devoted to "Under the Sea" with works in ceramic, painting and other styles, as well as their Dreaming Stories works on canvas of the Rainbow Serpent and Tidalik the Frog drawings.

2nd classes will be displaying Monet's Frogs and some Picasso inspired art.
3rd classes have their wonderful Egypt works, as well as their artworks influenced by Matisse and Jeannie Baker. 

4th classes display their art of Japan, 5th classes have become mini-rainforests, while 6th class show off their wonderful Gallipoli Art Award work,  their PNG influenced art, and their Japanese kites, among many other things!

Be sure to visit as many classrooms as you can at our Open Day next Sunday 25th May.  Come at 10am to catch our 45 minute concert of singing and recitals by our students. 

Categories: Lower First news (Kindy), Art classes, John Colet

16
May
2014

Open Day and Open Hearted

Open Day is nearly upon us and the excitement is rising.  A huge amount of work behind (and in front and to the left and to the right) of the scenes goes on to make it a great showcase for the school.
A lot of marketing focuses on Open Day – we have press ads, banners across the highways, brochure drops to pre-schools, the light box in Chatswood is changed to tell people about it, it is shared on Facebook with the school’s 256 (and counting) friends and, of course there is your word of mouth (and social media).
Open Day has to do some heavy lifting for the school.  It is a wonderful day for the children to show what they can do and also to have a day of fun on the various entertainments that the P & F has arranged for them; it is a great way for parents to see their children’s classrooms and to see the children perform;  it is a way that we can give a little back to the Northern Beaches community of which we are a part; and, not least, a way for prospective parents to come and see the school on display, with all of its wonderful aspects – lively happy children, committed and hard-working parents, and great teachers, – and they get to ride a donkey or handle a snake or buy a cake or bounce in a castle or talk to a Governor as well.
So from me, the proud Headmaster, a preliminary and heartfelt thank you to everyone who is working hard to bring it off.
And I’d like to ask a HUGE favour as well: our neighbours are generally pretty good to us, and we try very hard to be good to them.  So PLEASE Park considerately on the day, even if it means the walk is a bit further – it will give you a good excuse to stock up on all those cakes!
This week’s puzzle:  A Brain Teaser:  You are on a path and you come to a fork in the road; one road leads to life and the other to death, but you don’t know which is which.  Happily there are two men waiting there who can tell you.  One always tells the truth and the other always lies.  But you don’t know which is which.  And you can only ask one of them one question.  What is the question you must ask to find out the correct path, and then what must you do?
Answer to the last puzzle:  Laurence Hynes Halloran; Sydney Grammar

 

Gilbert Mane
Headmaster

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

16
May
2014

Weekly comment from our stage coordinators

On Tuesday morning the children seemed cheerful and confident as they prepared to write the first of the Naplan tests.  We wished them good luck, knowing they would do their best and that is the most important thing.  Very relevant here is the week’s practice for teachers and children which is to firstly become still, then focus and then do whatever is required by the situation.  This is a skill for life, and is in fact the only reasonable way to approach whatever faces us.

Another outstanding event in our week was the performance of the John Colet Strings Ensemble at Monday’s Assembly, under the direction of Rosey Davidson.  They played three pieces:  it was delightful and it’s amazing to think that the Ensemble only came together last term.  We look forward to regular future performances.

This weekend the parents of Cook House will come for Sunday morning to help prepare the school for Open Day;  this is in tandem with the enormous effort put in by the teachers, children and especially the Art Department, not forgetting the P&F,  to prepare the school for this annual event and to showcase the work and activities of John Colet School.

The Cyber Safety talk for parents and teachers  on Tuesday evening was extremely informative, alerting teachers and parents to the hard facts about the dangers of the cyber world, and giving advice  and important tips as to how to deal with this very real situation.  Leonie Smith spoke at length and took questions. She was supported by Robyn Jennings of Manly Area Police Command.  These talks are funded by the French’s Forest Rotary and the Dee Why RSL and we would like to offer our appreciation and acknowledge their generosity, also to Warringah Council, who help with printed material.  Leonie has published a book, hard copy and an e-book (ref This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and www.thecybersafetylady.com.au ).  These are available at $20 and $7 respectively.
Leonie and Robyn will be presenting again in our area on 24th June at Mimosa School:  the presentation is highly recommended, and anyone is welcome.

Honesty is a continuing behaviour focus.



Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

16
May
2014

On the vegetarian lunch menu this week...

Mon

SAUCY PASTA (with garlic bread)

Tue

BEANS ON TOAST

Wed

CHEESY RICE

Thu

GNOCCHI FLORENTINE

Fri

EGG SALAD SANDWICHES

Vegan, dairy free, gluten free, egg free options always available

 Here comes the school Fair and Open Day!!!
The Kitchen will be happily supplying some of the great food found at the fair on Sunday 25th May. You will find us this year in the dining room. There will be tables within the dining room and scattered around the lawn for you to eat at your leisure.
You will be able to try our amazing curries - Palak Paneer, Cauliflower and Chickpea Dhal, Sweet Vegetable Curry with Raita, Sweet Mango Chutney, Rice, Samosas/Spring Rolls and Roti Breads. We will also be offering our famous sausage rolls, nachos and egg or cheese salad rolls. Cold drinks, juice and water will also be available within our wonderful hall.
So don’t forget to pop in for lunch, we are catering for all - vegetarians to vegans.

Eat Well,
Donna

Categories: Lunch menus, John Colet

09
May
2014

On the vegetarian lunch menu this week...



Mon

PASTA BOLOGNESE

Tue

TOFU FRIED RICE

Wed

SAUSAGE ROLLS

Thu

CHILLI ‘BEEF’ & RICE

Fri

SOUP DU JOUR

Vegan, dairy free, gluten free, egg free options always provided.

As we are a vegetarian school, it is interesting to note the slow but constant changes towards embracing a moderation of vegetarianism in your weekly diet. Many magazines and journals are suggesting that we eat a vegetarian diet at least one day per week.
One of the many health benefits of home cooked vegetarian meals is that they can be high in fibre and protein while low in kilojoules. This combination will satisfy even the most staunch meat eaters.
Some suggestions-
•    Green vegetable and feta frittata
•    Stir fried tempeh, mushrooms and vegetables
•    Cauliflower and chickpea curry
Maybe we could all stand to gain from a Friday night curry or a Monday night frittata to lighten your digestive and kilojoule load.

Eat Well
Donna

Categories: Lunch menus, John Colet

09
May
2014

Weekly comment from our stage coordinators

The weather seems to have preceded us in requiring warmer clothes.  Week 3 and it’s into winter uniforms for those who haven’t already taken that step.
The classrooms are already looking colourful as the teachers and children prepare to display their work so far this year.  Our especial thanks to the Art Department – they produce and put up much of the work.
Unfortunately the Cyber Safety and Stranger Danger talks for the children had to be postponed, due to the illness of one of the speakers.  It will be re-scheduled – possibly after Open Day.  The talk for parents and carers will still be held at John Colet School on Tuesday 13th at 7.00 p.m.  This should be of great relevance to all of us, and we look forward to welcoming you to the school on that evening.
Truthfulness this week has an emphasis on “telling the whole truth” – that is, when you complain about the behaviour of another child, you always mention the part that you played in the interchange, not just the negative behaviour that you received:  tell the full story!  A little self-examination goes a long way!

Judith Donald
Infants Mistress

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

09
May
2014

Simple can be harder than complex.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
― Steve Jobs

Lately I have been thinking about thinking.  One of the key elements of the modern approach to teaching, and which is thought to be different from old-fashioned teaching and learning, is that it trains children to think for themselves, to approach problems with a range of skills and to be able to engage in stimulating enquiry based learning.

But does it?  And did the old fashioned way not prepare people to think?

And what does it mean to think?  If you are asked to think about something, what do you do?  What exact activity do you engage in?

At John Colet we have a few answers to these questions.  One basic use of the techniques of mindfulness which we introduce to the children is that a still and clear mind is a good starting point for the application of reason.

With a clear mind we can call upon a range of tools: brainstorming, which is a process of noting down all the associations one has with a given problem or topic; analysis, whereby we sift and categorize various options; synthesis, which involves grouping and comparing and contrasting alternatives.

Or we might use Edward De Bono’s Six Hats method of problem solving: white – the facts; red – our feelings; yellow – positive aspects; black – negative or challenging elements; green – new ideas; blue – the big picture.

My conclusion to date?  Clear, objective, effective thinking doesn’t just happen, but is a skill which needs to be taught like any other.


Gilbert Mane
Headmaster

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

05
May
2014

Tactile yarn weaving in 6th class

6th class have recently been working with yarn to create "Eye of God" wallhangings.  The 'Ojo de Dios' hangings are a traditional spiritual object in South America, and feel beautifully soft too.

They will be on display, along with school academic work and other projects, at our Fair and Open Day on Sunday 25th May. 

2014-eye-of-god-weaving

Categories: Art classes, John Colet

02
May
2014

On the vegetarian lunch menu this week...

Eat more to weigh less



Mon

EGG SALAD ROLLS

Tue

‘BEEF’ PILAF

Wed

SUNSHINE THAI

Thu

VEGETABLE EGG NOODLES

(with fruit and fibre yoghurt)

Fri

CHEESE TOASTIES & SALAD

Vegan, dairy free, egg free and gluten free options always provided.

Some of the small tips for better health come from the basics of ‘eat more to weigh less’. When looking for weight loss, or just a little post holiday management, we should follow the latest research in the ‘fullness factor’.
This research shows that a type of fibre called ‘resistant starch’, found in foods such as banana, is the most satiating. So, over these winter months, try to remember to fill up on fibre, drink plenty of water, power on with protein and keep that metabolism going with small and frequent meals.
As far as food choices are concerned, this simply means,
-    go big on vegetables
-    swap dried fruits for fresh
-    opt for wholegrain/multigrain and ancient grain breads
-    add a liquid meal to your daily diet (soup)
-    start your day with protein rich foods
-    don’t forget salad in also a winter food.

Eat Well
Donna

 

Categories: Lunch menus, John Colet

02
May
2014

Weekly comment from our stage coordinators

Honesty and how to encourage it

Our attention will be on Honesty which is how we practically apply the School Value of speaking the truth.  This is a large part of the development of good character in the child, and the courage to own up and speak the truth should be supported in the child at every turn.   All five of the school’s Values are for the building of a strong, mindful  and upright person, and truthfulness, honesty and the ability to own up are very much at the core of this.

The term has begun well, and the children have settled quickly to work, especially so those who are preparing themselves for the NAPLAN tests in a few weeks.  It’s a very short term, so we have to capitalise on every minute!

This term has seen the departure of Mrs. Ann Wakeford, head of the Special Education Dept.      Mrs. Wakeford has been with the school for many years, and there is quite a group of parents and teachers who have been extremely grateful to her for her special skills and way in which she has supported children with needs.  However, we do not need to mourn too deeply as Mrs. Wakeford will still be called on for consultation, and we hope to see her on a regular basis.  She will be replaced by Mrs. Lucy Little, who is well known to all of us, and who has been working in this department for several years.

This week sees the end of the choice of uniform – summer/winter, and from Week 3, all children should be wearing their winter uniforms.


And finally, we launched a smart new website this week. Do visit it soon at

www.johncolet.nsw.edu.au

 

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

02
May
2014

This headmaster sounds like a real character!

The one in the quiz, that is

One of the many inspiring things that Shantananda Saraswati tells us is that love is the limitless, abundant binding substance of the universe.  And it is the natural first response we all have to anything we encounter.  Of course emotions and thoughts other than love can crowd in almost immediately, nevertheless love is the first and the fundamental emotion.

One helpful way of conceiving of this is to imagine Love to be a limitless ocean in which we are all swimming, which surrounds us and interpenetrates all of us and links us all equally.

The teachers have been mindful of universal love this week.  We have been remembering to allow this love to work its magic in the classroom where the relationship of teacher and student is so important.  Where the atmosphere in a classroom is cold and distant and lacking in humanity, then the teaching and learning will hit all manner of road blocks.  Where there is affection and warmth then the learning takes place in a bright, enthusiastic and effective way.  

Maths, English and Science go better with a little love.  Happily this is well understood and wholeheartedly put into practice by all the teachers.

Answer to last week’s quiz: Northernmost point of mainland Australia: Cape York, Qld
Southernmost point: South Point, Wilson’s promontory, Vic (distance to Cape York 3,180 km)
Easternmost point: Cape Byron, NSW
Westernmost point: Steep Point, WA (distance 4,000 km)
Southernmost point in Tasmania: South East Cape, Tas (distance to Cape York 3680 km)

This week’s question:  1. Which founder of a major Australian Independent school was variously a poet, journalist, schoolmaster; and was also a bigamist, was convicted and gaoled for manslaughter, falsely claimed to be a clergyman, fought at the battle of Trafalgar, and was convicted and transported to NSW for forgery. 2.  Which school did he found? (Hint: the answers are not Mr Mane and John Colet School)

Headmaster
Gilbert Mane

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

11
April
2014

Report from our P&F

Our premiere morning P&F meeting was held to the murmurings of school assembly outside the staffroom doors on Monday.
Open Day was the talk of the town, with ideas and offers on food stalls, entertainment selection for different age groups, and how best to present the school without causing logistical chaos. Keep your eyes peeled and emails on standby as you'll hear more from Lucy B on this. Get in touch with Alex Coubrough if you can take a JC information pack to your preschool.
There was a flurry of spending activity, with a rice cooker, hat/hook stands, classroom signs and continuous hot water for the kitchen all approved. Our sincerest thanks to Forestville bakery, Libby L and helpers for going above and beyond in what stands to become the first of our annual hot cross bun fundraisers!  Thanks to your generosity, we reached our target of $450 which will fund an industrial rice cooker. Enjoy your buns.
Juli Allcorn presented her fantastic ideas on celebrating Shakespeare's 450th birthday, and we are looking forward to an event complete with a mural, a giant jigsaw-puzzle cake, and fancy dress for children and adults.
The school has been  working on refreshing its policies (Anti Discrimination, Critical Incidents, Special Education etc) and will be complete over the next 12 months, and we also discussed how the working bee can be more effective. Remember to put the Cyber Safety session in your diaries on Tuesday, 13th May. The school has noted that some children have accessed adult sites from their homes, and this information is a must for all parents.
Indu Balachandran
P&F President

Categories: P&F, John Colet

11
April
2014

Weekly comment from our stage coordinators

Easter approaches and the first term is behind us – a smooth but eventful Term 1.

We brought the term to an end with a strong Easter flavour:  The Lower First had an Easter Bonnet Parade and delighted firstly their parents with their display of hats and their recitation, and then the whole school as they went from class to class.  There were some amazing creations, and one is always surprised at the inventiveness of mothers and fathers.   And don’t the children just love it.

The Easter service was beautiful and the wonderful, simple exposition of the Easter story given by the Headmaster, as the hymns, brought a tear to one or two eyes!

Now to the holidays – may the sun shine on us occasionally and may we all return safe and rested, ready for the next quarter of the year!  Happy Easter.

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

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