June 30, 2014
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with the Principals from our sister schools in Australia; John Colet School in Sydney and Erasmus School in Melbourne. These two schools both have the same basic foundation and follow a similar philosophy to Ficino School. At our meetings, we discussed and confirmed the important factors that make our school what it is. Themes that arose were: ‘The Pause’ and the importance of Mindfulness, which is at the heart of everything we do, the purpose of handwriting and the value of attention in producing beautiful work, our school values which can be simply expressed as truthfulness, obedience, respect, responsibility and resilience, and meditation amongst other things.
I was also fortunate to attend the ISNZ Conference over the weekend just passed. This was an excellent event opened by the Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata. She had the daunting task of following an earlier address by the Chief Executive of ISNZ Deborah James, who pulled no punches in reminding the assembled company and the Minister what a huge contribution the private school sector makes to education in this country. Not only do we lead innovation, provide the Government with a net fiscal return, but also raise the national levels of achievement of New Zealand on the world stage. In 2012, private schools in New Zealand, when compared with all non-government sectors worldwide, ranked second in the world in Reading, second in the world in Science and third in the world in Maths.
June 23, 2014
Board members would like to thank all those parents who attended the ‘Meet the Board’ social function on Monday evening. We greatly appreciated the opportunity to engage in conversation with you and to share some information. A summary of the history of strong voluntary support that the school has enjoyed since our foundation was presented and we outlined our aspirations and plans for the future growth and development of Ficino School. The Principal described the vital importance of the intermediate school years and three important offerings available to our senior students.
Your enthusiasm and support for Ficino School is greatly appreciated and it was a delight to meet socially with those that were able attend.
Chairman, Board of Trustees
June 16, 2014
The Principal is in a Conference this week with visiting Heads from our sister schools in Australia.
Mr Gilbert Mane, Principal of the John Colet School in Sydney and Mr Glen Miller, Principal of the Erasmus School in Melbourne were attending the Australasian Heads Conference being hosted by our school.
Thank you to all who contributed to making this event such a success.
June 9, 2014
In our assembly on Friday, we heard about the Ficino School logo, which is modelled on the Florentine Fleur-de-lys. This emblem has been adopted extensively by many different cultures since ancient times. The Egyptians saw it as a symbol of the life force and ever since it has had a spiritual significance. The three flowers depicted in the symbol have traditionally represented the Trinity which is evident in many religious faiths in some form. Alternatively they stood for Faith, Wisdom and Chivalry. The cord around the base of the petals signifies the one Divine Substance which unites us all. Baden Powell picked up on this aspect when he chose the symbol for the Scout movement in which it has been used worldwide. When Ficino School was founded extensive research took place in selecting and designing our current logo. In addition to it symbolising the unity of mankind and of everything, is the obvious connection to our patron, Marsilio Ficino, who himself lived in Florence at the time of the Italian Renaissance. Other descriptions suggest an alternative name of the Fleur-de-lys as being Fleur-de-luce or flower of light, representing the inner light of consciousness.
Earlier in the week our Year 8 students presented a brilliantly constructed model of the human digestive system. All the students had to understand and be able to explain all of the main parts, as their teacher chose the three presenters’ names out of a hat on the morning of the assembly!
Towards the end of next week, Ficino School will host two Heads and three Board members from our sister schools in Australia. They are over for a biennial conference for the Australasian members of our world-wide family of schools.
May 26, 2014
Earlier this week on Monday evening, a meeting with all the parents of Year 7 and 8 students was held, to provide details of the Renaissance Trip. The trip takes place once every two years and is a perfect rounding off of the education provided at Ficino. This is what Mr Hudson says in his letter to the Year 7 and 8 parents about the trip.
“I am also pleased to announce that we are about begin our preparation for the Renaissance Trip, including various enquiries into the literature, art and architecture of the Renaissance and Ancient times. The Renaissance was a remarkable time of intellectual foment and discovery in the broadest sense. As Kenneth Clarke said in his wonderful series of documentaries about Civilisation, the Renaissance was a time where human beings were remarkably confident in their own innate capacity and nobility. The aim is to ready the students to meet the masterworks and minds of the Renaissance and the Ancient world, and hopefully come away inspired by their greatness.”
The potency and maturation this experience provides for the students is astonishing. They come back with a much greater sense of their own strength and capacity as human beings, and a sense of independence and enquiry into the real nature of things. The growth that takes place culminates on the trip, but this is built on a foundation of all their years at Ficino and particularly the work in History, Scripture and English in the terms immediately prior. We hope to give all parents the opportunity to hear more about the trip in due course.
May 20, 2014
This week in our Friday assembly, we heard our first sports reports for the year. Our two Sports Captains read out the hockey and netball results and commended the ‘players of the day’ and ‘most improved’. It is pleasing to see a successful start to both disciplines, which will be in no small measure, a result of the coaching and parental help. This bodes well for the season ahead.
Our assembly story was about perseverance and determination. Akiba, who lived in Palestine was a shepherd and didn’t learn to read until he was nearly forty. When he tried, it was all too hard, and he was ready to give up. However the following day, he was shepherding beside a waterfall and on seeing how the water was creating a groove in a rock by being hit by water day after day, he suddenly realised that he would be able to read but it was just a matter of perseverance. Akiba, after learning to read at forty eventually became one of the foremost authorities on the Torah (the Jewish Law). The children were quick to get the message that if something is proving difficult, self-belief and perseverance will surmount almost any obstacle.
May 13, 2014
The term has started strongly with the children well rested and enjoying the company of their friends and teachers again. As ANZAC Day fell during the holidays, we decided to use the assemblies this week to highlight the importance of remembering the sacrifice made for us to enjoy the freedoms we do. On Friday, Class 5 recited the evocative poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Lt Col John McCrae. This was performed with gravity and conviction. Following that we heard a tribute written in 1934 by President Kemal Ataturk (President of Turkey) who was a great soldier himself and successfully defended the Gallipoli Peninsula in the first world war. He had this message for the families of New Zealand and Australian soldiers who died in that terrible campaign.
‘Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives …You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Jonnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours…Your mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.’
ANZAC Day leads naturally to our first philosophy theme for this term in the P4C programme – Service and Sacrifice. On this subject, here is a message about service which expounds why it is such a good topic for philosophical discussion. This comes from one of the collections of stories we use for assemblies and Philosophy.
‘The concept of Service has all but been lost, especially since the majority of people link the word with the derivation from the Latin, servitium, meaning slavery. It doesn’t help that youngsters are brought up in a society which stresses individual rights, with little thought for responsibility. More appropriate to the theme in this book is the quotation from the Book of Common Prayer, which says ‘God… whose service is perfect freedom’. This carries with it a sense of an action of ‘serving, helping, or benefiting; conduct tending to the welfare or advantage of another’ as described in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. This is the premise upon which the stories have been written – that it is important to move out beyond seeing to one’s own needs to considering the needs of others. Implicit in this is the notion that in breaking out from the constraints of a ‘small world’ the individual does indeed move towards freedom. This, however, has to be thoroughly discussed so that children can have the opportunity to test it in practice – philosophy is little use if not practical!’
Stephanie Baudet & Paul Cleghorn