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.
August 5, 2014
Many of you will be aware of the outstanding academic achievements of our Head Boy, Tristan Pang. During the holidays, he was featured in Seven Sharp on TV One. For those of you that missed this, please follow the link below to view it.
August 4, 2014
As the first week of the term draws to a close, it has been a pleasure to see the bright faces of the children returning rested from the holidays. We had a visitor on Wednesday, who commented to the staff, that he paid particular attention to the conversations the children were having with their parents as he arrived at dismissal time. He described the bright enthusiasm for learning he overheard being related and said he could feel the joy in the atmosphere. We welcome five new students to the school this term and they seem so far to have joined that atmosphere easily and happily.
Our assembly today looked at the Commonwealth Games, and it was particularly opportune to talk to the students about what that common wealth is that we all share as nations. As the British Empire slowly shrank throughout the first half of the twentieth century, it left behind common systems of government and law. Systems that were built on Christian principles and freedom of speech. You may have heard of the Queen’s Baton Relay. This takes place in the months leading up to the Games. The Queen places a message in a baton, which then circulates the globe visiting all seventy-one countries taking part. The batons are designed in such a way that they often acknowledge or offer a gift to each country as they pass through. We listened to a message from the Queen describing those characteristics of goodness that unite the Commonwealth countries together. This and images of the baton’s journey can be viewed on this link.
In the light of all the conflict taking place around the world, organisations that hold nations together with a common purpose are highly relevant and worthy of support.