I read a stunning message this week, and knew I had to share it with our Graeme College community, but hoping many of you have seen it already. Community... a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Our school, our town, our country - we all have so much in common. Our country, if not our world seems much more divided now than ever, and maybe small things will help bring us back together. The message was as follows:
I thought this quote by Mark Manson appropriate, especially with the fact that we are in the peak of fighting a global pandemic and our concerns are mounting over our own health and safety. Many articles have been written on anxiety, uncertainty and fear. These articles are written with the best of intentions — to acknowledge how people are feeling and help them cope. But there’s only so much fear-validation one can take before our own anxiety spirals into overdrive. To keep one’s outlook steady, we need to look towards reading articles that offer signs of hope or examples of people who are engaging in generous acts to help others.
I am thrilled that there are now many more of these stories in South Africa, but it's one that I love sharing, and I hope you enjoy it. It is a feel-good South African story, with one of the most controversial and polarizing topics at the core. When the Grade 12s deal with Land Reform in their Geography syllabus each year, they probably don’t quite realize how much tension surrounds the topic. I always try to share this story, just because of that ‘feel good’ notion, and use it
as a positive case study within the complicated South African context.
The Department of Basic Education has backtracked at the 11th hour, announcing that only certain Grades will be allowed to return to school. The decision centres around the department’s strategy to manage the health risk, especially with the current spike of COVID-19 cases in the country. This has caused significant frustration, as all staff have been working tirelessly to welcome back the Grade 10 group as well as the entire Foundation Phase on Monday.
One of the topics that we often raise in education, is the development towards gender equality and working towards our learners contributing more meaningfully to society. There is so much that we need to still do, especially at an all boys school. And especially within a developing nation where cultural and traditional norms still don’t promote equality. And as much as we educate learners, focussing on content within subject curricula, it is the development of the all-round learner which is even more important. We want to develop better people who play an active and positive role within society.
Following on from our Mother’s Day tribute, we would once again like to pay tribute to the stakeholders in our boys’ lives. Many of our boys are very privileged to have the parents that they do have. It has been heart-warming to see the way our parents have supported their children through this very difficult time.
I have two thoughts regarding this week’s newsletter. One is a very serious, and the other just the complete opposite.
With the ongoing social awareness around the world, it would be remiss of us not to touch on the distressing racial and social issues flaring up across the world. Interestingly, a number of years ago, Graeme College was adamant to address certain issues and developed a more assertive approach going forwards. Two of those key imperatives included making sure that we are always a school where our learners feel heard, and also making sure all our learners always felt that they ‘belonged’ at Graeme College. That is such a loaded statement and is one that drives so many of our decisions and protocols. Especially in a country which has the past that we had; it is crucial to make sure we are always working on our own social development. So many organizations have posted quotes about the past and the future, and at Graeme we are always focussed on the present, aiming for the future, but never forgetting the past. Hopefully that is the recipe for becoming an even better school each day.
The Minister of Basic Education has given dates on the resumption of school and as expected it will be a phased in process, starting with Grade 7 and Grade 12, on Monday 1 June. Senior management, staff and the Governing Body have been planning for the resumption of school for weeks now.
I was privileged enough to attend a few of the Powerade Performance academy lectures, and in 2016 came across a young speaker named Tom Lawson Squibb, who has worked with many professional groups, both in the commercial and sporting spheres. Of course, everything these days seems to be linked to our lockdown status, and this article directly refers to the downtime available during this period. So the message this week for our community to possibly tackle is the idea of ‘winning the downtime’. Everybody has been stretched emotionally during this lockdown period and hope we all come out the other end emotionally stronger, being more aware of who we are and have clarity of what we want and need in life to be successful. I hope you enjoy it:
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