Head of School's Comment - image  on https://www.johncolet.nsw.edu.au

Head of School’s Comment

As several parents have asked me about the Teacher’s Conference that I attended in Lucca, Italy, over the holidays, I thought I would tell you a little about it. 

There were 63 delegates, mainly from the Renaissance Schools.  There were Heads from Renaissance Schools in London, Cape Town, Durban, Sydney, Melbourne and Trinidad.  There were other Head Teachers from Islamabad, Pondicherry, Budapest, northern England, and South Africa.   Apart from the Heads there were about 55 teachers, educational psychologists and other interested parties from various parts of the globe.

The program was fairly full, starting at 6.30am (for those who meditate) and finishing about 9.00pm.  There were various groups where you could study the principles of education and I chose to study what Plato says about Education in The Republic. There were also four options for further in-depth study; Classical Greek Literature, Sanskrit, Art and Geometry.

It was quite inspiring listening to other teachers and the work they were doing.  There was a nun from Islamabad who looked after a school of 1,700 girls.  Because they were devoted to the education of girls they were a target for ISIS. They had to search every child, every day, as they entered the school grounds. Their lives were in danger, but the education of the girls was something they believed in.  I couldn t help but admire the courage of these teachers.

There were also teachers from South Africa who were doing all they could to preserve what is left of the Education System there.  They said it was in a very poor and needy state. After speaking with teachers from other countries and the difficulties they were having, I felt that we had little to complain about.

It’s probably an injustice to Plato, and possibly not quite as simple as this, but I felt that his message related to two main areas: – To put the best people in front of the children, and to give the children the best material available.  I was very heartened by this as we make every effort to follow these guidelines.

If I would have had a bit more courage I may have studied Art as my in-depth subject, but I chose Classical Literature, which I love.  On the whole, I find the beauty of the language and the subject matter quite inspirational, and if not inspirational, extremely interesting.  The conference strengthened my resolve to make every effort to give the children the very best.

It’s hard to imagine that there is any gift better than a broad and well-rounded education.  In a sense it sets the children up for life, and gives them the tools to make the best of their lives. It’s like the old adage- Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for life.   

Mary McKendrick