Newsletter #4 20/03/2019

Principal’s Report

Happiness = A Good Education (Part 1)
I always enjoy the opportunity, in between fulfilling my “Principal responsibilities and duties”, to keep an eye on the education landscape; to read and view what trends we are seeing locally, nationally and globally and what the next instalment in the education revolution is predicted to bring to schools.

Recently, I was reading an article in the Education Matters – Primary journal by Shona Bass and Kathy Walker of ‘Early Life Foundations’ and ‘Walker Learning’, where they discussed the inclusion of Skills For Life in children’s education.  Immediately my thoughts went to our school and our philosophy (“to promote the full potential of consciousness in every student”). When you have been an educator for over 30 years, and a principal for around 15 years, as I have, the experiences we have had and the insights we have developed, shape the philosophy we advocate and the type of education we believe should be considered imperative and valuable to the foundation of young people’s development. Now, thankfully but unsurprisingly, I’m reading about “the profound individuality of all children”, that education should be about producing people who go on learning after their formal education has ceased; who think, question, and know how to find answers when they need them. Sound familiar?

We have challenging times in relation to society in general which impacts upon all aspects of our children including:
The intrusion of ‘electronic entertainment’ in everyday life and cyber bullying,
Exposure of children to experiences and life opportunities earlier and earlier,
Overscheduled children,
Preoccupation by some with having “bright children”,
Parenting and educating using extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation, and
Focus on outcomes rather that effort and application.

Thomas Moore stated: “Education is not the piling on of learning, information, facts, skills or abilities that are training or instruction. Education is making visible what is hidden.” This type of education is hard to measure and ultimately has no standard or end point. It is embedded in a wisdom, something profound that is difficult if not impossible to articulate.

It looks like many may have now reached that point that some of us (including our Foundation Principal, Frances Clarke, and the founders of Maharishi School) did a while ago when we questioned the enthusiasm that emerged for proceeding down a one-way road to predicted success, that included a fanatical focus on measurement, benchmarking, standardised testing and rankings. It has become more evident that this approach is not producing in the children of today, the qualities we value and would like to see in the adults of tomorrow.

I became quite disheartened as a school leader many years ago when parents were being told that they should/could identify good schools through comparing them on sites such as MySchool. I thought to myself, “Are they really asking people to make a comparison only through tangible criteria such as data tables and NAPLAN results?” The MySchool website publishes data without context. You are encouraged to compare school against school, similar to comparing home loans or energy providers. It completely undermines the integrity of schools and the teaching profession. Surely we all understand in this day and age how important the intangibles are in defining what makes a good school. Sustained motivation for learning comes from within. What is essential to foster this intrinsic motivation is not ranking one child against another but the constant reflection of where the child was, where they are now and where they are heading. It is this as well as the education of the heart, the soul, the development of identity, culture, appreciation of reflection and belonging that should be valued. Our Fundamentals of Growth which are part of the Year 5/6 curriculum include studies of qualities such as Creativity, Energy, Intelligence, Knowledge, Adaptability, Resourcefulness and Happiness. Our point of difference as a school is highlighted by our focus on developing these qualities in children.

I am convinced that most of us want the same thing for our children. I regularly hear, “I just want my child to be happy”. I know what parents mean, even if it is articulated using that one key word – Happy”. Those parents are describing, in their own way, what I define within the meaning of one of our SCI Principles: “Life is Found in Layers”. Happiness is not a one-dimensional notion. It is made up of layers of intertwined combinations of feelings, emotions, behaviours and so much more that is deep and meaningful. (To be continued in the next edition of our Newsletter)

Homework Club
This popular program for students took a hiatus this term as we reviewed our ability to continue without the funding we had previously received. However, I am pleased to announce that our “Homework Club” resumes in Term 2 on Wednesdays between 3.30- 5.00pm. During Term 2 2019 the Homework Club Program will offer:
Drama (up to 10 places) – Tim Cove
Gardening/Sustainability (up to 8 places) – Nadege Kitching
Fitness, Movement & Coordination Skills Training (up to 10 places) – Alison Umbers
Puzzles, Games and Technology (up to 8 places) – Mr Charisis

You may register your child by completing the form that will be sent home next week and returning it to the school by Tuesday 2nd April. The first session will be on Wednesday 24th April (Term 2 – Week 1).

Student Lunches
Beginning Friday 3rd May (Week 2 of Term 2), our Student Lunch Orders will be re-introduced and be available each Friday during Term 2.

In keeping with the school’s reviewed Food & Nutrition Policy, meals will be prepared with fresh local organic seasonal sustainable and non-GMO ingredients as best we can. Substitutions may occur, based on availability of ingredients.

Lunch Orders will be offered over a 9-week period. The menu will include substitutions for Gluten-Free diets.

Parents are invited to volunteer their assistance to prepare lunches. You may commit to one or more weeks. Please contact Suzi at the Office to express your interest. Further information and an Order Form will be distributed next week.

2019 Boite Choir Performance
Last year the Maharishi School Choir performed at the Boite Schools Chorus Concert at Melbourne Town Hall. Our school’s involvement gave the opportunity for our students to perform at one of Melbourne’s prestigious performance venues alongside acclaimed artists and 300 school students from across the state.

This year our Choir will once again be a part of this inspiring experience. I have registered our school to participate in The Boite Schools Chorus 2019 to perform at the concert on Thursday 8th August at Melbourne Town Hall at 7.30pm. 

In the Boite’s 40th year and the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Boite Schools Chorus will be exploring the Dhungala Choral Connection Song Book. This beautiful collection of songs features the experiences and languages of Aboriginal Children from around Australia. Written and composed by Deborah Cheetham and Jessica Hitchcock through the Short Black Opera for Kids program, this valuable resource will reveal the beauty and complexity of Aboriginal languages through the powerful medium of song.

Our school is incredibly fortunate to once again have access to the musical talents and skills of both Katrina Wilson O’Brien and Virginia Bott. Virginia was our school’s “Choir Master” in 2019 while Ms Wilson O’Brien was on Family Leave. This year they will team up to guide our students throughout the period leading up to and including our performance in August.

We will be conducting an After School Choir Program each Thursday during Term 2 between 3.30 – 4.30pm. (Note: the After-School Care Program will be in place from 4.30 – 5.30 for the convenience of parents if children cannot be picked up at 4.30pm). Students must register their interest to become part of the Maharishi School Choir and attend the Choir Program each Thursday after school to be eligible to perform with the Boite Choir at Melbourne Town Hall. Ideally, we would like to see participation from students across Years Prep – 6. The School Choir sessions begin in Week 2 of Term 2 (Thursday 2nd May). Further details and a Consent Form will be sent home next week.

2019 Student ILPs
Staff have drafted Student ILPs for this year and are fine-tuning some after the recent Parent/Teacher Interviews. I am reviewing them all prior to their distribution which is planned for the beginning of Term 2.

Parents should note that the distribution schedule for the ILPs is in no way related to the individualised programs devised and already implemented by teachers with all their students this term. Documenting them all is the “formal” part of the process. I expect you will have received a great insight to your child’s progress and their individual needs during the recent P/T Interviews.

SRC Report
Our Student Leaders are busy organising a special end to Term One on Friday 5th April. They are currently drafting a letter to send to all families next week to outline their plans for the day. They are such inspiring leaders and impressive individuals.

Fundamentals of Growth-Years 5/6
What’s been happening in the Emeralds class this term? So much!
The first four Fundamentals of Growth which we study in Term 1 are Creativity, Energy, Intelligence and Purposefulness.
Each of us has a unique creative intelligence and that is best understood and emphasised through a regular practice of Transcendental Meditation. It’s wonderful at the start of the school year to discuss Creativity and reflect on our individual strengths and talents. We used the web-based ‘word cloud’ program “Word Art” to make posters illustrating their different expressions of creativity.
We enjoyed a visit from Dr Sue Brown, who introduced our second Fundamental of Growth, Energy. Dr Brown facilitated a very enjoyable group discussion about all of the different meanings and purposes of Energy – for example showing us a video on the amount of energy used by the brain, and showing us a breakdown of the different parts of the body and how much energy as a percentage they each require. We enjoyed researching synonyms for ‘energy’ – such as ‘pizazz’ (an attractive combination of vitality and glamour’). We discussed origins of the word and how we all understand the concept – in nature, our bodies and science. Dr Brown assisted us to identify how practicing our TM can help our energy and focus to be balanced and regular.

Other Emeralds Highlights….
This term, the Emeralds have also participated in the 2019 Safer Internet Day (organised by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner) in which we joined a webinar for primary schools. The topic of the fun and interactive webinar was “making the internet safer for kids”. We all made our own safe internet pledges
Friday 15th March was the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. The Emeralds discussed the definition of bullying for Australia and then engaged in some activities talking about being active bystanders and all having superpowers to combat bullying.

Tips were given for students regarding bullying:
If it happens in person;
If it happens on line;
If you see someone being bullied;
If it doesn’t stop.

Our extension activity on this day was participating in an interactive webinar “Bouncing back from online bullying – Strategies for building digital resilience”.

Halogen Student Leadership Conference
On Monday 18th March, the Emeralds went to the Exhibition Centre in the city to participate in the “Halogen National Leaders Conference”. Approximately 4000 other Year 5 and 6 students converged for a wonderful day of inspirational speakers and fun activities. We thoroughly enjoyed listening to comedian Cal Wilson, Tim Wilson from the Cotton On Foundation, Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones and Melbourne Stars BBL player Holly Ferling. We learnt some important tips for goal setting, facing challenges and leaving our unique individual marks on our chosen fields. The topics were a fantastic way to prepare us for our next Fundamental of Growth, Purposefulness. There were some tired Emeralds on the train coming home! Thanks to Karina Aston for coming with us on our day’s outing.

Design Club
Our Year 6 Student Leaders have initiated a popular lunchtime “Clubs Program” that operates throughout the week. One of the Clubs is the Design and Technology Club which I help supervise with Aiden and Nathan, our STEM Captains. The boys are performing their responsibilities admirably and are helping to guide many of our younger students who attend the Club on Thursday at lunchtime. Below are some of the models designed and constructed by our younger students.

Key Dates
Thursday 21st March Year 3/4 Camp – Zoo Snooze (continues)
Pearls/Sapphires/Emeralds Excursion to Melbourne Zoo
Harmony Day
Friday 22nd March IAAF Athletics Program (Sapphires & Diamonds only) (Sports Uniform Day)
Indoor Sports Program (Bundoora Action Sports) (Sports Uniform Day)
Wednesday 27th March Tennis Coaching Program (3.30- 5.00pm at Keon Park Tennis Club) (Sports Uniform Day)
Friday 29th March School Incursion: ‘Barking Spider’ Puppetry sessions
Indoor Sports Program (Bundoora Action Sports) (Sports Uniform Day)
Wednesday 3rd April School Incursion: ‘Deadly Dan’
Tennis Coaching Program (3.30- 5.00pm at Keon Park Tennis Club) (Sports Uniform Day)
Friday 5th April IAAF Athletics Program (Sapphires & Diamonds only) (Sports Uniform Day)
(End Term 1) Indoor Sports Program (Bundoora Action Sports) (Sports Uniform Day)
SRC Activities Day
Monday 22nd April Easter Monday Public Holiday (School Closed)
Tuesday 23rd April Begin Term 2
Wednesday 24th April Homework Club begins (3.30-5.00pm)
Thursday 25th April ANZAC Day Public Holiday (School Closed)
Friday 26th April Staff Planning Day (Student-Free Day: School Closed)

Christchurch Tragedy
I know that these attacks have deeply distressed all of us. These terrible events have shaken the confidence and heightened fears for the security of many of our Muslim and other faith-based schools. I want our own school’s Islamic families to know that we share your shock at last week’s atrocities and that we stand in solidarity with you at this time.

This has occurred in the lead up to Harmony Day, a time when we celebrate Australian multiculturalism, and the successful integration of migrants into our community. Australia is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world and we should celebrate this and work to maintain it. Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values. Our school acknowledges this initiative by speaking with our students about multiculturalism and diversity and the importance and value that comes with living in a society such as ours.

“If world peace is to be established, peace in the individual must be established first. Transcendental Meditation directly brings peace in the individual life” and
“Problems will disappear as darkness disappears with the onset of light.”
(Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)

Steve Charisis-Principal