Posts Tagged ‘catholic schools’

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea

June 6, 2010

Parish, primary school and secondary school combined to participate in Australia’s biggest morning tea, which raises funds for cancer research. While raising funds is important, this event was even more important in acknowledging the people and families affected by cancer, and showing that the community is ready to support them, not just financially, but emotionally and socially. It affirms all people a place in community, regardless of illness, disability or misfortune.

It contrasts with school as an institution concerned only with promoting its own image, catering to clever and beautiful people, and excluding undesirables. There is a boy who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in year 5, and while treatment was successful, it left him with a damaged pituitary and the need to take daily medication for the rest of his life. He was enrolled in a catholic secondary school for year seven, but after 12 months his parents were told he would not be re-enrolled for year 8. This sends a clear message that only clever and beautiful children are wanted in catholic schools, and by the Catholic Church.

Australia’s biggest morning tea was an opportunity to display community support, and Christian love for everybody, especially those inflicted with disease and misfortune. What can the community do to ensure its institutions of church and school also act to support these individuals and their families?

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Parent Teacher Interviews

May 15, 2010

It’s the time of the year for parent teacher interviews.

I would like to see teachers sharing information about students and their learning styles.

Every year, as a parent I go along to the parent/teacher interviews, and spend 5 minutes in intense conversation with yet another teacher. I am surprised at how well this teacher has got to know my child in the first two terms, when my child is one of possibly hundreds taught by this teacher. She sums up the main features of my child’s learning style; I try to give some information which may help to work around some of my child’s unique characteristics. I do this 8 or so more times with all the other subject teachers, and go home feeling lucky that I only had to meet 8 teachers, not the hundreds of parents the teachers had to meet.

The second half of the year works better because the teacher has worked out how to engage my child. Then the year ends, and we start all over again with a fresh group of teachers, who take half the year to work out my child’s learning style, and I go to the parent teacher night, and hear exactly what I heard last year.

What if there was a way so that teachers could share the vital information about my child’s learning style with each other, across subjects and from year to year?  Then all teachers would understand my child like my child’s favourite teacher does. Teachers could start teaching at the beginning of the year instead of spending half the year working the children out. I’d still show up for parent teacher nights, but I would see the school developing a growing understanding of my child’s learning style, and this would be good for all concerned.

Dear Teacher

May 4, 2010

Dear Teacher,

This is my son, look after him. Please use your skill as a teacher to engage him in the learning process. Do not judge him nor use his immaturity as a reason to condemn or punish him. He is not an employee of whom you can demand performance. You and the school exist to serve his needs. He is not there to help you achieve your personal goals or the school’s academic goals.

Catholic schools traditionally have a reputation for brutality. Some catholic schools trade on this reputation.  With demands for above average results catholic schools become places only for clever and beautiful children, catholic in name only, and devoid of Gospel values. Dr Dan White quotes the old adage “if you are not modelling what you are trying to teach, then you are teaching something else”

Please remember that you are an adult, with hundreds of hours of training as a professional teacher. He is a child. You represent of an organisation with hundreds of years of teaching experience, thousands of hours of research and training, and millions of dollars in resources. He is a child. As an adult in a relationship with a child you are responsible for the success of this relationship. Any attempt to place this responsibility on the child is most improper.

My son is not yet an independent learner, but will learn naturally and curiously when given the right environment. He is immature and at times disorganised. The merit system is designed to help my child to focus step by step on developing habits and virtues which will help him to become an independent learner, and foster his lifelong love of learning.

The merit system can be used to help every child step up to their next level whatever their ability. At the moment, it seems to be used to reward clever and beautiful children for being clever and beautiful. How else could one student be given two silver awards (Gold) in one ten week term? This amounts to 120 individual merits. There is a stinginess and stupidity which only allows merits to be given for extra-ordinary achievement.

My son would do nearly anything to get merits, yet he has no idea what he can do, and is not allowed to ask. If you want him to hand in homework or assignments, give him a merit for it, and he will probably do it again, until he can see the value in homework and assignments. Tell him what you want him to do and that you will give him a merit for it, and he will develop his own checklist which will lead to good habits.

Do not listen to the stupidity which says that a merit is a reward. It is a tick of approval which acknowledges he is on the right track, perhaps the highest form of motivation that there is.

This is my son. Look after him. Foster and protect his love of learning.