Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College
I think we do our children a disservice when we lead them to believe that success and failure are opposites, and that failure is something to be avoided at all costs. We have made the word 'fail' a dirty, four-letter word. Such thinking leads to either perfectionism, where children feel that nothing less than 100% is acceptable, or avoidance, because they are paralysed by the fear of not being good enough. Last year, the book Fear of Failure by Jessica Lahey described families where parents leap to their children's defence, ensuring they never have to experience what it is like to feel the consequences of failure. She also describes how the long term consequence of such a protective approach leads to young people not being able to cope with the natural and regular failures of adult life, in relationships or at work. Failure is the most useful step in learning. It is when we have to stop, re-evaluate and plan for improvement that we really grow - and that's what learning is all about. There is a huge difference between having high expectations about learning and achievement, with a focus on growth and improvement, compared to an obsession with marks and grades. Sometimes, school is to blame for this type of thinking, where we make the marks and the grades the goal, rather than the learning and the growth. It is true that not everyone can get straight A’s, and it would be foolish to insist on this. However, EVERYONE can learn and grow and improve with support and effort. This is why learning how to learn is the most important lesson of all, and the one we most need for a fulfilling and positive life experience.
Students at Caroline Chisholm College have ample opportunity to grow, and to fail and to improve. As we enter into Semester 2, our students have already received vital feedback in their assessment results and their reports. I hope each girl has taken the time to think about what she needs to focus on next to continue her growth and improvement. Our students in Year 12 are preparing for their Trial HSC exams, and I know you will join with me in wishing them well and praying for their success. The feedback from these Trial exams are so important as they ready themselves for the challenges of the HSC in October.
On the final day of last term the entire staff of the college gathered for professional development. I encourage you to read Mr Casni's report on the day, because it was quite revolutionary. We had some surprise educational experts come to work with our staff - it was the students! A number of students from Year 7, Year 9 and Year 10 took us through a powerful process of reflecting on what learning looks like from the other side of the classroom. Their refreshing, and sometimes challenging insights will illuminate some of the work we will be doing in the area of assessment and project based learning over the coming months. I am very grateful to the students who not only gave up the first day of their holidays, but also had the courage to speak with us so eloquently and courageously. I wish I could have captured the look on the teachers' faces when the students told them they had to do an assessment that was going to be marked - by the students!
The school term started with a staff retreat on Monday 18 July. Fr Richard Healey led a program based on the idea of intentional discipleship. His input challenged us, as Christian women and men, to evaluate how our relationship with Jesus shapes our lives, our relationships and our work at Caroline Chisholm College. It is a rare privilege to have time and space to sit with such important questions and I am grateful to Fr Richard for his gentle leadership of this day. This Friday, students in 7 - 10 will engage in their Reflection Days. This is their chance to reflect on the deeper and more significant parts of our relationships with God and with each other. Thank you to the many teachers and staff members who make these days so significant for our girls.
Over the holiday break we received the sad news that Mr Marc Petit's mother and Mr Greg King's father died. Both these long serving members of staff have been held close in our prayers and our friendship over these difficult days, and we offered Mass on our retreat for the repose of the souls of Naree Petit and Paul King. During this first week of term Mrs Anne Tucker, mother of Maddie in Year 10 passed away after a difficult illness. Our faith tells us that Mrs Tucker is now in the embrace of our loving God, and her family will be cared for by this community in every way we can. Please pray for all of those carrying the burden of grief that they may experience God's love through the care of the people around them.
With all of the terrible news from around the world recently, attacks in France, Germany, Kabul and so many other places, we thought it may be useful to read some advice about how to speak with your children about tragedy and evil in the world. Our counsellor, Miss Jacqui McCoy has included in this newsletter some tips for helping young people make sense of these events, and how we can reassure them about their safety and well-being. If you are concerned about your daughter's reactions to world events, please feel free to contact Jacqui at the college. Now, as ever, we must pray for peace in the hearts of all people.
A prayer for peace in our communities
We pray for peace in our communities this day.
We commit to you all who work for peace and an end to tensions,
And those who work to uphold law and justice.
We pray for an end to fear,
Change the hearts of those who profit from fear and division.
We pray for comfort and support to those who suffer.
For calm in our streets and cities,
That people may go about their lives in safety and peace.
In your mercy, hear our prayers,
now and always.
Mr Greg Elliott