Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Building resilience ...or not

I had dinner with friends last night who commented that they are taking their children to Paris this summer as their 4 year old wants to see the Eiffel Tower. What lucky children they are and how fortunate that their parents can give them such an exciting experience!

As parents, it is our natural instinct to want to give our children all that we can and to protect them from harm, hurt and wrong.

But is there a point when this protection actually is potentially more damaging than the harm? Maybe. I see many students who have absolutely no capacity to deal with any level of emotional trauma because they have been protected from experiencing any form of unpleasantness, even on the most minor level.

We want our children to be emotionally resilient- that is a necessary capability to possess in order to function normally in the adult world- the ability to get up, shake yourself off and get on with it! It seems that some parents are very concerned with keeping their child's self esteem intact, but to me, it is at times, at the expense of allowing the child to build resilience in a supportive environment. Ironically, I think self esteem can be enhanced by resilience- the idea that it may not be nice/ pleasant but I'm alright and moving on, is a tremendously positive attitude to foster.

Edith Grotberg, in her book " Strengthening the Human Spirit" says this about resilience:

"Resilience is important because it is the human capacity to face, overcome and be strengthened by the adversities of life...With resilience, children can triumph over trauma; without it (adversity) triumphs."

It is okay to allow our children to experience unpleasantness at times, to not win, for it to be ok not to be in the top group- all sorts of daily experiences that mould us into emotionally functional people.

The photos below are some snaps that I took during a walk though the school this afternoon.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Celebrating all things Chinese!

Of all the curriculum areas, Chinese is the one I get the most 'feedback' from parents on, which to be honest, has somewhat surprised me at times. It runs the full range from bricks to bouquets. Parents want more, or less, or only rote, or inquiry based, or more traditional subjects, or celebration of festivals or no celebration of festivals...and I have come to the conclusion that the best I can do is simply my best!

My thinking is that Chinese should be taught by the best teachers I can find, who have the best professional development I can offer, who have the right resources, organisation and support that I can give. I think we have this at Bradbury and our recent reorganisation would support this. Most of all, I want our students to feel how special it is that we live in this amazing place, surrounded by this rich culture and we have the opportunity to embrace it.

A language to me, is the essence of a country's culture. In it is reflected all the values, ideals and beliefs of that culture. I love sitting in on Chinese lessons and hearing the story behind how characters are formed, it offers a rich glimpse into a sophisticated and ancient society.

Another thing about Chinese I really enjoy is learning and enjoying other aspects of the culture, such as its music. Today, we had the musicians from the Music Office Chinese Ensemble perform for us. They had around 16 traditional Chinese instruments that they not only played together, but also explained about and performed individually. Most I had never seen before-It was fantastic!

I very much support this whole school approach (today's performance was organised by the music department) to embracing and celebrating this wonderful culture which surrounds us!