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.
July 25, 2014
It was good to see so many of the parent body at our Final Assembly this morning. The quality of the winners of our annual Speech Competition was astounding; I am pleased the children had such a good audience to deliver them to. What was most striking was the students’ confidence on the stage. It all began with Class One delivering a choral rendition of a prayer from one of the Upanishads of ancient India. It was bright, clear and full of spirit. We were then entertained with psalms, English poetry, an extract from the Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf, Shakespeare’s Henry V and the grand finale of Queen Elizabeth’s rousing speech to the English troops at Tilbury before they faced the Spanish Armada.
I wish you all a splendid break and look forward to seeing you again in the new term.
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.