Principal Blog Issue 10 2017

Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,


My children, who are now adults, just showed me the newest feature on Snap Chat, called Snap Maps. It is very clever and very dangerous and I would encourage parents to ensure this feature is disabled on their daughter's phone. If your child uses it, it places a little cartoon image (called a Bitmoji) of them on a map of exactly where they are in real time. It looks exciting and fun to see where all your friends are at any moment. Using your phone's GPS, Snapchat shows anyone in your friends list your precise location right down to your street address, or if you are driving between locations. It also allows anyone to search Snapchat by location, and to reveal images and videos sent from that site, or show people with their profile set to public.  This is a concern for two reasons. The first, and most obvious concern is it could be used very badly to target children. Even within friendship groups, it could be used to harass or intimidate a child. The second concern is about how little our young people value their privacy and solitude. It just isn't OK for children to be out of touch or not share with each other, it seems. I could imagine how it might make a person feel to look at the map and see all of her friends at the movies without her. Or for friends to raise questions about why someone went to some location after school. I would hope that our girls have times and spaces that are totally safe, totally peaceful and totally healthy. This could be meal times with the family or evenings after the phone is switched off and left in the kitchen. It could be while getting some physical activity, or cooking a meal together. It's no wonder so many young people feel stressed about their social lives. These technologies come at a cost, and, unless we help our children to manage its use, the cost could be to their well-being.  It might be time for a Snap Chat chat!


Semester One reports have just been issued to students in Years 7 to 10. I have the task of reading every report and determining the Principal's Awards. There was a great number of excellent reports and those students deserve congratulations. The process also gives me the opportunity to get an overview of how learning is going in the college. When I read so many reports, I see patterns of what Caroline Chisholm girls are good at, and where they struggle. I know this is a generalisation, but I am pretty confident about this.


As a community of learners, we work hard, we do our homework, we prepare for assessments and we follow instructions well. These are all good things, and they are important. Students' results show that, when a task asks them to repeat what they have learned, they can do it. When they are asked to follow a process that their teacher has given them, they can do it. And, I would go further to say, our girls like to learn in this safe way: repeating what they have been taught and following instructions.


But that is not enough. The world doesn’t need people whose only skill is following instructions. And this is where it gets tricky. Across the reports, I notice that, when students are asked to solve a problem they have never seen before, or when they need to come up with their own approach to a question or a task, or when they are challenged to go beyond what the teacher has given them, students here find that more difficult and become concerned that they might be wrong. Some of our students wait, until the others around them have given the direction they need. Some will demand that the teacher gives a clear set of precise instructions. Some will give a task less effort until they are certain the teacher will approve of what they are planning to do. Some of our students really don’t like being given enquiry projects, with no clear outcome, and many students don’t like working in teams to create solutions.

So, when your daughter's teacher answers her questions with another question, or when, in class she is given a problem she has never had to solve before, remember that we are preparing your daughter for life, and sometimes that feels uncomfortable. But, no one has ever learned anything unless they are standing on the edge of something that they can’t yet do.


It has been a very exciting end to Term 2 for the Creative Arts.  We have enjoyed our Drama students performing at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Flannofest - a celebration of drama in Western Sydney.  Our dance troupe  performed brilliantly at the Dynamic Song and Dance Festival, held at Bonnyrigg Sports Club last Saturday. On Tuesday night we were brilliantly entertained at our inaugural Music Showcase in collaboration with St Dominic's College. It is always a gift to see our students sharing their talents in diverse and superb ways. Congratulations to Mrs Karen King, Leader of Learning for Creative Arts and her entire team for leading these opportunities for the girls. 


Congratulations to Courtney Hamilton (Year 7), Milinda Ranathunga (Year 9) and Arabella Steele-Allen (Year 12) who have been involved with the CEPD Captivate program over the last two terms. Over the last couple of weeks they performed in a series of concerts put on by Captivate to mark the conclusion of the semester’s programs, Our students were involved in a number of groups and ensembles, including the symphony orchestra, the chamber choir and chamber instrumentalists. We acknowledge these girls for their commitment and for the quality of their performances.


Finally, thank you to all those who contributed so generously to the St Vincent de Paul Winter Appeal. Let us pray that God will bless their work and bring warmth and shelter to the poor living among us, especially in this cold weather.


Mr Greg Elliott