From the Principal

This week we have a special guest introduction from Jason McManus, Vice Principal.

I think, therefore I am.

Decartes’ famous philosophical proposition, states that because we are capable of conscious thought, we know we exist. It puts thinking at the centre of our existence, indeed as very proof of it. We are what we think.

A school exists largely to develop thinking. It encourages, shapes and refines thinking in all its teachers and students. Tintern Grammar has always prided itself on having a culture that venerates rich and deep thinking, but as part of one of our key strategic projects in our Strategic Plan group focussed on optimising the growth of our learners, a group of intrepid teachers are piloting a professional learning collaboration into the Harvard Project Zero Cultures of Thinking.

I will be coaching a Professional Growth Partnership team, facilitated by Mr Steven Lo and Ms Beth Cain, in an action research project to learn more about how we can create better cultures of thinking in our classrooms for our students.

I am looking forward to working with these innovative educators as we explore this together and look forward to reporting back to you in more detail over the coming months and years.

Parents of students in Years 7-10 will have recently received (or will soon) an email from their child’s English teacher outlining our wide reading program and the importance of regular reading to the improvement of comprehension skills, throughout secondary school years. The letter called for parents’ support in encouraging regular reading at home as one of the best ways to support your child’s growth in academic and social/emotional learning.

As children’s author Jackie French said to The Guardian this week, By the time your child is 18 hopefully they will have lived 10,000 lives in the books that they have read. They will have met 100,000 people with all of those outlooks, all of those differing outlooks as well. They’ll all have gained empathy, they’ll have gained understanding, and they will have gained the ability to cope with complexity in a way that television and daily life can’t [facilitate].”

When we read we think, we reflect, we imagine, we empathise, we understand, and we grow as people and as learners. While technology undoubtedly enhances modern learning in many ways, reading is still the bedrock of education as it has been since classical times.

The power of words was a theme used most effectively by our School Leaders in a recent secondary assembly. As part of our Digital Citizenship project which is rolling out this year, the Leaders made an incredible video showing us the power we all have to affect others negatively or positively when we use words, whether in the real world or online. You can find the Respect Video on the homepage of the MyTintern portal, available at this link. Please note you will need to login to the portal to view the video. It is well worth a look.

The Leader’s video demonstrates that every time we use language we make choices that will determine how those words will affect others. If we are what we think, as members of a school of empathetic and reflective thinkers, we will be best placed to ensure these choices are good ones. Factis Non-Verbis.

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