A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 14 - 2022

The ABC reported during this last week that in NSW a new position is being created in education to help both independent and state schools. The position being created is a Chief Behaviour Adviser to lead efforts in improving respectful behaviour in schools. This is a very interesting move but not without an element of concern.

Realistically, Schools alone cannot bear the mantle of being the only educator around respectful behaviour, particularly with so much disrespectful behaviour taking place online, out of sight and out of school hours. As parents or caregivers, we are all behavioural advisers to children in our care. We all have the responsibility to promote respectful behaviour in life that then flows on to schools through our role-modelling at home. Complicating matters, there are heightened levels of sensitivity around relationships and societal issues that can impact behaviour at home and school.

Accountability for our own behaviour is something we all have to accept. We also need to ensure that we attribute behaviour appropriately. One of the great life skills worth nurturing is empathy, that is, the notion of imagining yourself in someone else's shoes with their problems but without making them your own. Increasingly, as a society, we seem willing to enter into vicarious outrage. We show that are offended for others, who may themselves not be offended at all. Yet in doing this, we disempower ‘others’ for whom we are outraged because we inadvertently make their problems our own.

Parenting is not easy and most parents aspire to give their children a better life than they had, which could lead to children not being held accountable for their actions. We sometimes find ourselves taking blame for them or we attribute our children’s behaviour to factors beyond them. One unfortunate consequence is that children do not learn boundaries and do not learn about appropriate interaction with others. Their perceived image of themselves is out of line with reality and they learn by default to attribute their shortcomings to factors beyond their control. This could then manifest itself in behaviour that is both disrespectful and inappropriate.

As we head into the break, we have a great opportunity for us to spend time with our children and indeed, try to help them learn more about the importance of lifelong respectful behaviour and appropriate attributions.

I hope you have a wonderful break and that you are looking forward to the new Main Gates driveway, the last part of our current development, when it is ready early next term. Thank you for your support, perseverance and being respectful to one another during this impactful project. As we near the tail end of our current phase of Campus Masterplan improvements, we will be welcoming a large gathering of our wonderful Westminster community to our ‘Grand Opening’ celebration on Saturday 29 October 2022. I look forward to enjoying this special occasion with you and your family.

And for all those budding code breakers out there still working to break the code in my last eNews article to claim the Domino’s vouchers up for grabs, your new cryptic clue is October. Good luck – the vouchers are still on offer!

Simon Shepherd