A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Marion, South Australia
Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Senior School - Edition 2 - 2019

Swimming Carnival

The Senior School Swimming Carnival will be held on the afternoons of Thursday 21 and Friday 22 February. This is the first inter-House event for the year. The Year 11 and 12 students will compete for their Houses on Thursday and the Year 8 to 10 students will be competing on Friday. Parents are welcome to attend the event on either day.

While there are many competitive swimming events that will showcase the more able swimmers, there are opportunities for other House members to be involved in the Carnival, including a range of novelty events designed to increase participation on each afternoon. The Carnival will begin at 1.25 pm on Thursday and 1.15 pm on Friday.

Building Confidence

Over the past two weeks, Resilience has been the topic of our Wellbeing@West sessions during House Tutor period on Tuesdays. The Wellbeing and Resilience Centre, within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), use the definition of resilience ‘as a person’s ability to effectively cope with, adjust, or recover from stress or adversity (Burton, Pakenham, Brown, 2010)’. When I asked the Carter Year 12s, they said Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ when things go wrong. Being resilient does not mean you won’t experience adversity, but having resilience can buffer the adverse effects of stressful life events. Individuals who use a broader range of coping strategies experience less distress from stressful life events. The SAMHRI website suggests that Resilience is not one specific skill, but a set of resources and skills that promote:

  • effective problem-solving;
  • adaptability;
  • positive coping;
  • self-regulation; and
  • social support.

In my experience, students who have a healthy confidence in their ability to solve a wide variety of problems, to engage with others, to try new things and to seek help are those who deal with disappointment in the most effective manner and grow as people. They tend to have a Growth Mindset, which in simple terms means they believe that with effort they can become better at something - whether that be their academic progress, acquiring a skill or other activities they engage in.

Melbourne psychologist, Andrew Fuller says ‘confidence is one of the most powerful, and one of the most elusive, qualities that creates success in life. Building confidence means that we develop the courage to try out new things. Unless we are exceptionally talented, most of us approach new activities with a slight apprehension, which is usually followed, by bewilderment and confusion. Our first attempts may be feeble but if we persist we often gain a sense of mastery. If, however, someone rescues us when we are bewildered we learn that someone else can do what we cannot. This is why rescuing children when they are struggling with a new activity is toxic to confidence. There are several steps to creating and building confidence'.

Andrew goes on to suggest how we can build confidence in young people:

Trust your child - Nothing builds confidence more than trust. One of the best ways of communicating your trust is to ask your child for help. Requesting assistance communicates to a child that you regard them as capable and competent. Letting your children cook with you can be a good place to start.

Live a bold and adventurous life - People only learn to deliberately practice skills that they are not so good at when someone has clearly told them that they believe in them and that mistakes are the only way to get better at something. If we can’t learn to make mistakes, we can’t learn to improve. People who make no mistakes do not usually make anything.

Build a have-a-go culture - People often express their insecurities by claiming that they can’t do something or by comparing themselves negatively with others. For example, “I am the world’s worst dancer” or “I’m no good at Maths”. When someone makes comments like these, acknowledge their feelings and help them to express them verbally. Ask them what makes them feel that way. Accept their fears or insecurities as genuine but don’t agree with their self-assessment. For example, you might say, “I get it that you are struggling at Maths, how can we work on it to make it easier?". Confident people make plans to improve in areas they initially find difficult.

Follow the 80/20 rule – No one is confident at everything all the time. We all have hesitations and setbacks. Aim to be bold and confident about 80% of the time. In many areas of life, it is the predominant pattern that counts long term.

Little steps lead to giant leaps - When we focus on our strengths we build the confidence to tackle areas where we are not so capable. Most highly skilled and confident people deliberately practice skills that they are not good at. They go out of their way to put themselves in challenging situations so they can become more skilled. People only learn to deliberately practice skills that they are not so good at when someone has clearly told them that they believe in them and that mistakes are the only way to get better at something.

Be on a continual treasure hunt – devote your life towards looking for the best in yourself and in others. Focus on successes, skills and abilities. Be resolutely positive and follow the role model of Thomas Edison who after trying 10,000 times to develop an electric light bulb said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.".

Information from www.andrewfuller.com.au

I encourage all students to work at developing a positive Growth Mindset to help them develop confidence in their ability and the belief that, with effort and by asking for help, they can and will work through challenges and disappointments.

Old Scholars

I always enjoy hearing about what our students do once they leave Westminster and become Old Scholars. There are many examples of Westminster Old Scholars becoming successful in a wide range of areas, and we are seeing an increasing number of our Old Scholars moving overseas to study. One such student is Tom Kubank ('13) who has spent the past five years on a basketball scholarship in North Dakota. Tom has done particularly well juggling academic commitments with a heavy basketball schedule. He has twice achieved a GPA greater than 3.5 in his Bachelor of Business degree, which awarded him an honour on the Dean's list. Earlier this year Tom was awarded the Kevin Olsen Basketball Scholarship, which is awarded to a basketball player who displays the qualities of exemplary values, leadership and teamwork. These are the types of values that I hope all of our students display and I congratulate Tom on this award.

Road Raise

Two of our staff members, Venue and Event Manager, Chris Brosnan, and Head of Senior Students, Tony Ritson, have both taken up the challenge to ride from Adelaide from Melbourne! Chris and Tony are participating in Road Raise for CanTeen, and will cycle a total of 1100 kms in seven days, travelling along the Great Ocean Road, to raise vital funds and awareness to support young people who have been impacted by cancer.

They would love your support with their fundraising efforts. You can donate to them both below.

Chinese New Year

In the past few weeks, Year 8 and 9 students studying Chinese engaged in various cultural activities to celebrate Chinese New Year, and to share in this festive experience. Students also enjoyed the interaction with our Shanghai sister school students and found out what life was like as a teenager in China. Here are some reflections from students.

Chinese has been thoroughly enjoyable and full of new experiences. We made new friends with the Chinese exchange students from our sister school. We followed some Chinese New Year traditions like red packet making. We have learnt Chinese through various methods including dances and making body gestures for characters. We are all looking forward to what else this year has in store. Xiexie! - Veda Muthineni and Ella Williams

It was nice to meet the Chinese students from our Shanghai sister school. Meeting Chinese children my age was something new for me. It was interesting how different their lifestyle was and yet how similar to ours as well. I was also very impressed with their English skills. - Jack Richards

This year I have had the opportunity to select Chinese as a subject. Each lesson has been a lot of fun, learning not only how to speak, write and read Chinese, but also discovering more about the Chinese culture like making our own lanterns, couplets and pictures for Chinese New Year which taught us to appreciate the fascinating country of China. - Michelle Liew

So far in Chinese this year, apart from learning the language, we have been doing Chinese New Year activities. This has taught us about Chinese culture and traditions. My favourite activity was creating a pig for the Year of the Pig. - Katie Natt

The Chinese girls perceptions of colour were a lot more meaningful then our perceptions of colour. Their lives are quite similar to ours in that they play instruments and do sport. They have WeChat which they use to pay for things and talk to each other, because social media is blocked in China. They speak English amazingly well. - Jade Cross

It was an insightful experience to talk to the Chinese students about their daily routine. I learnt that they play similar sports to us, and learn similar subjects also. They all owned the social media app known as WeChat, which is extremely common in Asia. Overall, I really enjoyed meeting them and making new friends. - Airlie Rouvray

It was really interesting learning about the Chinese students' way of life and their perceptions of colour. I learned that they begin school at 7.45 am and that they get a lot of homework so they have to stay up late to study. They also begin learning English at a very young age because English is such a widely spoken language. It was also cool to learn about their thoughts on schools in Australia. - Ayesha Peerbaye

It was really cool and interesting to get to learn about the Chinese students. I learnt that they have to do homework in the holidays and that they have different perceptions of colours. They start learning English at a young age and they learn many of the same subjects that we do. They all use WeChat, which was cool to know. It was really nice to learn about them and about what it is like in China. - Abbie Munt

I found meeting the Chinese students really interesting. They speak English very well as they started learning from Year 1. I learnt that they start school much earlier than us and when they get there they start reading right away. They use WeChat to interact with each other online as social media isn't allowed in China. It was cool to learn about their perceptions of colour. - Ashlee Munt

Meeting the Chinese students was a really eye-opening experience in which I learned a lot about their lives in China. Although they definitely have a lot of differences in lifestyles to us, I found that we are all just kids and we share many common interests. I was surprised at how good their English abilities are compared to our Chinese abilities but they have all learned English for a lot longer than we have. Overall it was a great experience talking to all of them and hearing about their thoughts and opinions on Australia. - Bobby Zhou

David Wallage
Head of Senior School