From the Head of Middle School

‘Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.’ – Soren Kierkegaard.

Over the last couple of weeks, students and families have been deep in discussion around topics such as reviewing the Semester 1 report, 2017 subject choice, applying for 2017 leadership and extension opportunities, Safe Partying, raising money for people less fortunate than themselves, and transitioning into Year 10. These discussions create many emotions, and each student deals with the processes and topics slightly differently. Along with all that complexity, families also have to survive the colder weather and rain, plus navigate the regular ‘housekeeping’ matters that each week brings.

In discussions with students it is interesting to hear what they see as being important for the future. What is wonderful is that a time when systems and structures are pushing them rapidly along a path that seems to focus on a vocation, they can still recognise that there is more to life and education than simply learning in order to get a job. Many students tell me the best thing about being at Carey is the fact that they have many opportunities to grow in other areas of their life – e.g. the performing arts, sport, academic, and community service – and they can see merit in pursuing all these areas, without one being necessarily more important than the other. It seems kids intuitively understand the need for a balance.

Since the start of the term I have really noticed a genuine sense of optimism in many students – I think this is the growth spurt time of the year in terms of maturity. Suddenly, almost as if overnight, Year 7 students begin to look and act like Year 8s, Year 8s return from their three-week program well and truly ready for Year 9, and the Year 9s illustrate a terrific maturity that is a joy to work with and will aide their step into Senior School. The challenge for parents and teachers is how to ride and support this wave of growth – how do we coax and guide this intense physical, intellectual and social growth without telling the student what to do? After all, it is their journey.

Overwhelmingly, the students I speak to are excited (and a little nervous) about the future and are really looking forward to the opportunities on the horizon. As I have mentioned before, the most important thing adults can do for kids is to be ‘present’ in all aspects of their connection; whether that is as a parent, coach, teacher, uncle/aunty, or simply the parent of one of your child’s friends – when we stop and listen, empathise and engage with students, their wisdom, maturity, and thirst for understanding is evident.

A wonderful skill to support young people to developing is ‘self-talk’. Self-talk is a critical ability that definitely helps kids to navigate the complexity of building for their future. We know the conversations you have with yourself can be positive, negative, or about a process and being able to switch to multiple views is so beneficial. These internal conversations help us decide how to tackle a decision, and there is no doubt a positive mindset helps you to look at life through your strengths – as Socrates mused all those years ago ‘Let he who would move the world first move himself’.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School