October 20, 2014
A warm welcome to our fourth and final term for the year. It is full as always and we can look forward to the Music Competition, the Nativity Play and Concert and presentations from our Year 7 and 8 students on their recent Renaissance Trip.
Our theme for Philosophy lessons this term is Respect. This follows from our third school value which is to respect all. What does it mean to respect all? If we look at the etymology of the word respect, we see that it comes from a Latin root and means to ‘look again’ or to consider. This gives some insight into how we can learn to respect whoever is in front of us. The first step is to take another look at what is there; to look again. Allowing time and space to regard someone fully, enables freedom to see and practise what is good. This leads us to our fourth school value to practise what is good, with resilience and courage. First and foremost comes respect and then good practice.
Our Head Boy, Tristan Pang, was interviewed recently for MENZED magazine, and his answer is a fine example of respect in practice.
MENZED: What is the greatest piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
TP: I remember when I was about two years old and living in England, I received a present from my Mum’s sister in New Zealand. It was a framed piece of Chinese Calligraphy by Confucius. The English translation was similar to Charles Kingsley’s “Do as you would be done by”. She asked me to live by this proverb. I later found that it’s the Golden Rule of reciprocity: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself”, and, “One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated”. The similar concept appears in the Bible as well. “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12. In the past 10 years, when dealing with people or handling situations which I am not familiar with, I try to ask myself, “If I were him/her, would I like what I have done to him/her?” This helps me to judge what is right and what is wrong.
September 22, 2014
The Principal is away in Italy with the Year 7 & 8 Renaissance Trip.
September 16, 2014
The Dance Assembly this morning was an exquisite display of grace, beauty and precision. Mrs Rosemary Auld, the Dance Teacher spoke at the Assembly of the place of devotion in many of the dances that were being performed. And this was evident to the audience who were drawn into the stillness and presence of the dancers. There is a statement from an ancient eastern source which gives direction for this type of dance ‘Where the hand goes, the eye should go; Where the eye goes, the mind should also go there; Where the mind goes, the heart should be, and where the heart is, there love arises’. This sums up the fine attention given by the children and the effect this had on them and their audience.
A number of you may be aware that a group of older ladies and gentlemen from the School of Philosophy meet in the villa on a Thursday morning. I received the following letter from the group yesterday.
Dear Mr Crompton,
Thank you for the joyful shouts that greet us on Thursday morning. If our tutor were to say “there is no material today”, it would not matter. We had been taken back to the time when we too shouted for joy. It had made nonsense of time.
Somewhere it is said “He unto the child revealed, things that to the wise were sealed”. This too is a nonsense, for the wise, by definition, have re-found the joy of childhood. Perhaps this is a teacher’s greatest reward – a miracle arising from just listening.
With best wishes, Thursday Morning Group
September 8, 2014
Grandparents Morning was a highlight of this school week. We had over sixty grandparents and relatives visiting the school. They enjoyed excellent service from the Year 5 students who welcomed them with cups of tea and cakes provided by the parents and the ever-present Friends of Ficino. It is wonderful to be in an atmosphere where service is a delight and not a chore. Service from the younger to their elders has always been a natural part of most societies for millennia. However within the last few years, this has changed dramatically and children are growing up now in an atmosphere where they are often waited on by their parents. Recent research in Australia suggests that this phenomenon which is described as being a result of over-parenting, can lead to children placing an over-emphasis on their emotional state which in turn develops a learned helplessness. The respect for the authority of parents and teachers is a natural antidote to such problems and is encouraged and thriving in the Ficino School community, as seen on a Grandparents Morning.
Our Year 8 students were very privileged this week to hear one of the most sought after motivational speakers in the country. Billy Graham is a former New Zealand and Australasian Boxing Champion, who tells his colourful life story from troubled childhood to a youth advocate. He has made a significant difference to a number of communities around New Zealand. His repartee had the students spellbound for an hour. His primary message was that with diligence and hard work, you can achieve just about anything you set your mind to. He also spoke of the importance of asking for help and listening to good advice. We are grateful to King’s School for this opportunity to join their Year 8 students.
September 1, 2014
Last week a group of Year 6 students and one Year 7 student were introduced to meditation. This opportunity is offered to all students at Ficino once they have reached the age of ten. The children are already familiar with the rest the Pause provides as they practise this regularly each day. Meditation gives the opportunity for the mind to quieten more gently and deeply. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the benefits of meditation. It improves health and well-being and on a practical level aids the ability for the children to study. The children are encouraged to receive the meditation as a gift; one that far outweighs material things as it is something that grows richer the more they practise it. The offer of meditation is entirely voluntary and some students pick it up a year or two later as they feel ready.
This week our two ski teams have for the first time enjoyed glorious weather at the North Island Primary and Intermediate School Championships at Mt Ruapehu. They have trained regularly and have been well supported by parents and the coaches from Snowplanet.
August 25, 2014
On Thursday this week, the annual Class 4 Play took place. This year they performed ‘The Story of Theseus’, a play written by Peter Weigall, a long standing English and Drama teacher at our sister school St James in London. Theseus represents an ideal of kingly nobility. He is courageous, but also compassionate – he understands the fear his fellows feel, but assures them that fear is there to be overcome not submitted to. He listens and seeks advice when necessary, and he has a strong sense of duty. This is most obvious in his actions aimed at ridding his people of the monsters which hang over them and inhibit their freedom. Theseus is also fallible; his memory fails him when he forgets to put the white sail up on his return to Athens leading to his father’s grief-stricken fall from the cliff. However his fallibility is only in his mind but not his heart. His courage, his steadiness and his resolve remain utterly constant throughout the play.
There are two lines which stood out for me both spoken by Theseus.
“There is nothing that cannot be resolved by reason” and “the gods of reason and courage will show us the way”.
These direct us to an understanding of the symbolism in the story. Myths such as this one don’t last for thousands of years without some substance that goes beyond a simple story of a brave prince with a sad ending. The labyrinth where the minotaur lives, represents the many paths life can take us on; and in order not to get lost in them, one needs Adriadne’s cord. This symbolises the thread of reason, which everyone has access to, and which connects us to our spiritual centre. Without this we might wander for hundreds of years in the circular paths and dead ends of the labyrinth of life. The combination of reason and courage allow Theseus to rid his people of the last pall that hangs over them and return to Athens as their king.
It is a great story and the class should be proud of all the work they have put in. Their speech was clear, they worked together and with Mr Hudson’s direction, gave an outstanding performance.
August 11, 2014
Yesterday Ficino School hosted a visit from Year 6, 7 and 8 students from Kadimah School in central Auckland. They arrived to join our senior students for an excellent talk on online safety and digital citizenship. The talk was given by Brett Lee, who was a Queensland Police officer for 22 years working predominantly in the field of child exploitation. In his last five years of service, he was a specialist in undercover internet child exploitation investigations. He explained to the students that he has spent more time online as a 13 year old girl than any real 13 year old ever has. The talk was excellent ranging over such areas as digital footprint, personal details and photographs and the importance of parents in keeping yourself safe; but the overriding message was that the internet is a great facility if used properly and safely and the key to that is to compare your actions to those you would do in the physical world. For example, he explained to the students, would you give out your personal details to a stranger who approached you in the street? We hope to be able to offer an information evening for all parents in this increasingly important area of internet safety. In the meantime you might be interested in this clip from Australian television of which a slightly abridged version was shown to the senior students. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPk3pGCKOmw&safe=active . The Kadimah School students were lively company and after the talk, they stayed on and enjoyed a Ficino School lunch.