Halfway through the year – reflection, rejuvenation, regeneration and resilience

‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’ – Buckminster Fuller

I hope families have had a chance to regroup as well as reflect on the first half of the year over the break. It is interesting that although we have never had such variety of entertainment at our fingertips it is often the quiet family time and being in nature that we have craved, rather than hours of Netflix, YouTube, social media and gaming. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity for families to find some time to slow down and spend moments on the simpler things like being together, having a meal and perhaps even a board game or two.  By removing noise and busyness of life, we give ourselves time to think and contemplate, which can lead to a deeper reflection and a more balanced sense of wellbeing. Self-reflection is such an important skill to foster in kids and creating times when this is done quietly, calmly and with intention we can see and feel things that sometimes gets lost in the ‘noise’ of life. The middle of the year is a great opportunity to take stock of how the year is going, once rested over the break I hope that families had some productive conversation about how things went in Semester 1. To help with the reflection process over the next few weeks, teachers and pastoral staff will discuss the semester reports with students to plan learning goals for Semester 2 which will also assist with subject selection as we move into the process for 2023.

Throughout a student’s time in Middle School they are faced with a huge variety of learning moments and challenges as they navigate the early years of adolescence. Students and families are all on unique journeys as every child is different (even within the one family) and circumstances are evolving all the time. Our pastoral care system works with both individuals and the collective, which at times can be a delicate balance. With the increase in connectivity and the complexity of social media, students and families can at times be grappling with multiple issues around fitting in, risk-taking behaviours, relationship issues, being bullied, self-identity and time management – it has never been harder to keep on top of all the things that make adolescence challenging. It is widely accepted that there are three main questions teenagers need answers at this time of their development:

  • The question of Identity: ‘Who am I?’
  • The question of Affinity: ‘Where do I belong?’
  • The question of Autonomy: ‘Do my choices matter?’

If you have any concerns around your child’s journey, we encourage you to talk with your child’s Mentor as a starting point.

This week we also begun our terrific Year 8 program (Human Rights Convention, Rural and Hattah) which provides a wonderful opportunity for students to grow both as individuals and as a collective. Halfway through Year 8, students are beginning to show signs of a new maturation and a desire to move forward both academically and socially. We know increasingly that the process of education is not simply about giving students chunks of information to be remembered later in a summative assessment situation – it is about enabling students to ‘learn how to learn’. It is also about giving students opportunities to hear what others have learnt and experienced and then discuss, argue and reflect in order to gain a greater understanding of its truth for them and understand how this knowledge could be of use. Listening to others talk about the basic building blocks of life: food, water, clean air, forests, energy, history, community and sustainability gives us an appreciation of something much bigger than simply our lives in Melbourne. Students learn about many of the things they take for granted in Melbourne, along with the technical insights about diverse topics such as farming, wool production, animal husbandry, history, Indigenous links to the land, sustainability and they learnt how to live together and support each other.  We know removal and disconnect from the earth that sustains us can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing – especially for young people and thus it is important for students to be outside feeling the wind, sunshine and rain while getting to know special parts of Victoria.

Last week we also briefed the students about their subject selections for 2023. The Year 10 2023 Information Evening will have provided Year 9 students with an important overview. Heads of House, Mentors and Senior Curriculum Leaders from Senior School will be able to provide sound advice and discuss options for 2023. Pathways@Carey is available on our Carey website and student login details for subject selection will be emailed this week. Please note that the due date for online selections for all year levels is Thursday 28 July. As this falls during the Year 8 program, families will need to be particularly vigilant to ensure that the discussions about selections have taken place and that the deadline is met. It will be important to do this while students are on campus for the Human Rights Convention.

We wish Year 8 students and staff all the best as they embark on the Hattah, Rural and the Human Rights Convention program over the next three weeks. As in years past, we can expect some great stories when students return from their ‘real-world’ experiences. We know that these innovative programs provide students a wonderful opportunity to further develop their thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication and connection to a different environment and way of learning.

I hope everyone has a wonderful start to Term 3 and looks forward to finding new answers to the big questions.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School

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