27 Sep 2019

From the Head of Lindfield

How to Avoid Raising Unethical Brutes

As a parent, I strive to raise principled, caring children, though often my aspiration does not match my reality. In a previous Prep Talk, I wrote an article about ways to develop a strong, moral compass in our children. The answer was a framework of clear family values, good role modelling, sharing wisdom and experience and plenty of open discussions around big issues.

The missing piece in the framework is the way we talk and interact with our children. We can do all these things mentioned above but the responses and attitudes of our children may still be wanting. Often negative interactions at home are a response to the way we, as parents, frame our child’s actions and dispositions. As a parent, we need to be mindful and conscious of the way we speak with our children. There was an interesting NY Times article by Adam Grant that focused on this issue. I have inserted the Marshall Memo summary of his ideas below.

What does it take to raise a compassionate, moral child? Researchers have found that worldwide, this is parents’ number one priority – instilling caring is more important to them than their children’s achievement. But how much difference do parents make in this area? Are some children born good-natured and others mean-spirited? Studies of twins suggest that between one-quarter and one-half of people’s propensity to be kind is inherited – which means that parents and the environment account for up to three-quarters. Drawing on the psychological research, Grant has these suggestions for adults working with children:

  • Praise is more effective than rewards. If we want to reinforce caring, “Rewards run the risk of leading children to be kind only when a carrot is offered, whereas praise communicates that sharing is intrinsically worthwhile for its own sake,” says Grant.
  • With children around 8 years old, praise character, not actions. Say, for example, “You’re a very nice and helpful person,” which leads children to internalize being helpful as part of their identity. However, this approach doesn’t work with younger children, who haven’t formed a stable sense of self, and with children 10 and older, there’s no difference in whether they’re praised for character or actions.
  • Nouns work better than verbs. It’s better to encourage a child to “be a helper” than “to help,” and it’s better to say, “Please don’t be a cheater” than “Please don’t cheat.” Grant explains: “When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices. Over time it can become part of us.”
  • With bad behavior, evoke guilt, not shame. “Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing,” says Grant. “Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, which is devastating; shame makes children feel small and worthless, and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether. In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior. When children feel guilt, they tend to experience remorse and regret, empathize with the person they have harmed, and aim to make it right.” When parents get angry, withdraw their love, and threaten punishments, children feel shame and believe they’re bad people. Some parents are so worried about this dynamic that they fail to discipline their children – which can get in the way of moral development.
  • With bad behavior, say you’re disappointed. “ Expressing disappointment, explaining why the behavior was wrong, how it affected others, and how they can rectify the situation,” says Grant, “enables children to develop standards for judging their actions, feelings of empathy and responsibility for others, and a sense of moral identity, which are conducive to becoming a helpful person. The beauty of expressing disappointment is that it communicates disapproval of the bad behavior, coupled with high expectations and the potential for improvement: ‘You’re a good person, even if you did a bad thing, and I know you can do better.’”
  • Model caring and generous behavior. Studies have shown that children pay more attention to what adults do than what they preach. “Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do,” says Grant.

Each stage of your son’s development brings new challenges, joys and opportunities. As a parent it can seem overwhelming.  The essence of the research is that the way you interact with your son builds their worldview and perception of who they are as a person. Parenting is learned through trial and error but good modelling, effective praise and positive character reinforcement is important in the development of your son. Done well, you are more likely to create an environment where your son’s kindness and compassion can thrive.

“Raising a Moral Child” by Adam Grant in The New York Times, April 13, 2014 (p. SR1, 6-7), http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/opinion/sunday/raising-a-moral-child.html?_r=0

Tips on Raising Caring Children by Kim Marshall in Marshall Memo 553, April 21, 2014

Ben Barrington-Higgs


Faith Matters

Since I started work in ministry to young people, some years ago, there’s been one Bible reading more than others that has always stuck with me. It’s from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10.

Jesus Blesses Little Children

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

This reading has always stuck with me because I think it gives us a model in which we should treat children among us. In this story parents are bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed and the disciples were trying to move them away, no doubt they thought Jesus was too busy to have to deal with little children like this. Perhaps they thought he had more important things to do like teach or heal, however, Jesus realised what was going on and insisted that the children be brought to him. This, I think, shows us a model of welcome that should always be offered to children. Too often in society, not just in Churches, children are shunned away and ignored. Yet, this passage challenges us to extend an open welcome to children among us.

Recently, though, I’ve been challenged to look at this reading in a different way. When Jesus tells the gathered crowd that the kingdom of God belongs to these children it’s not simply saying that children are also welcomed. He’s going further than that and saying that children are the example for adults and we should be led by these children.

I think the example of the leadership of young people has never been more evident that the events of the past few weeks. The passion and strength with which young people have advocated for action on Climate Change has been something to behold. This all culminated in the worldwide Climate Strikes last Friday, with close to 80,000 people marching in Sydney and similar numbers replicated across the world. I continue to be amazed at how articulate and confident young people are, willing to speak truth into situations.

In a small microcosm I saw the similar passion, strength and articulateness from our Year 6 boys at Lindfield this week as they presented in their Exhibition. I was blown away at the confidence and knowledge of every boy, the research they had put into complex issues and the ingenious solutions that they had come up with. These 11 and 12 year old boys were able to speak about complex issues better than many people four times their age.

Time and time again I continue to be struck by the insights and the strength of young people, in so many contexts. And always I can’t help but come back to this Bible Reading and the challenge from Jesus, ‘how can we be led by the children and young people in our midst’. It’s a challenge that I encourage others to take up, be willing to listen to the young people around us and be open to their leading in our lives.

I wish all our Lindfield families a safe and happy holiday break and look forward to seeing everyone back next term.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Richard La’Brooy


Social Emotional Learning – Student Agency and Responsibility

As we head into the holiday break it is timely to reflect upon the importance that families play in the social emotional learning and wellbeing of our students. Our social emotional learning program at school, Second Step, and our Pastoral Care focus are only a part of the wellbeing development of our students.  

Childhood experiences have lasting impacts and the relationships children and young people experience directly impact their wellbeing. Those provided with social, emotional and physical support are more likely to reach their full potential and experience better health outcomes in adulthood.  

Families directly affect development and long-term wellbeing 

The home environment and family functioning are the biggest influencers on development, with the learning environment the next most influential setting.  

Healthy family relationships help children and young people feel secure and loved. This state impacts their brain development and sense of self (that is, a realistic sense of their skills and abilities, and where and how they fit into the world).  

Positive relationships with family support individuals in building independence, responsibility, confidence and trust. They provide a place where these can be explored safely, where there’s guidance and room for mistakes. Families also give children and young people a model from which they learn about relationships and how to build connections throughout their lives. Children and young people who learn healthy relationship skills are more likely to experience positive peer relationships and grow up to become confident and resilient individuals.  

As children and young people develop, different environmental influences – the people and institutions around them – assume greater influence during different life stages. Children and adolescents aren’t just passively moulded by external forces – they have agency and choice which enables them to shape and influence their own development. 

  • Brain developmenthow the brain develops during childhood and adolescence has a long-lasting influence on a person’s physical and mental health. 
  • Child development: child development can have lasting impacts on mental health. 
  • Adolescent development: adolescence is a time of rapid biological, psychological, cognitive, emotional and social change. 
  • Social and emotional learning: social and emotional learning skills are essential for good mental health and wellbeing. 
  • Social development: social development is about learning the skills to relate to and interact with others. 
  • Emotional developmentsocial and emotional learning (SEL) helps us understand and manage our emotions, set and achieve goals and feel good about ourselves. 


So, have a restful holiday break and remember to provide your son with experiences and opportunities that will allow them to develop and demonstrate agency and responsibility, whilst also building their social and emotional learning skills. 


Pascal Czerwenka – Deputy Head of Lindfield / Year 5 Teacher



International Mindedness 

The final Prep Talk article brings us to the outer band that makes up the visual representation of the PYP model. This ring profiles international mindedness. 

The learner profile is central to the PYP definition of what it means to be internationally minded – a citizen of our world, a member of humanity rather than being Australian, Italian, Greek or a part of any other culture in our world. 

What is it to be internationally minded?  

This is a question that has many different answers for many different people. It is also a question that is increasingly more relevant in today’s world. We are all used to the idea of the modern world becoming smaller and more connected. Phrases like “it’s a small world” or thinking of the world as a “global village” are testament to this. In fact, one could argue that this quality of being internationally minded becomes more and more important in our world. 

We try to prepare our students for their future. But how do we best do that? One way is to give them the skills to be internationally minded, teaching them to be multilingual, to respect multiculturalism and appreciate the culture they live in, and to positively impact their communities through their actions. Global content and connections to learning are incorporated into our learning and teaching 

What can we do to help our students and children become even more internationally minded? How do these qualities shape their lives? 

“The IB is built on the vision of education for a better world, and we believe that a commitment to the principles of international-mindedness, a global outlook and intercultural exchange are foundational to that vision.” (Dr Siva Kumari, IBO) 

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. As IB learners, we strive to live the learner profile attributes. 

How do we try to incorporate international mindedness into our school and learning? 

There are other ways we strive to educate students towards international-mindedness and global citizenship; at Newington College Lindfield we aim to live our school’s philosophy and to create shared values and ethics. They exhibit personal concern for people all around the world, and this manifests itself in a sense of moral responsibility to other people and a commitment to the values of a community. They are aware of the long-term consequences of human behaviour on the environment and on global society. In the words of Bill Gates –  

“…the 21st-century is about a more global view. Where you don’t just think, yes, my country is doing well, but you think about the world at large.”  

International mindedness is a view of the world in which people see themselves connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility to its members. It is an awareness of the inter-relatedness of all nations and peoples, and a recognition of the complexity of these relationships. Internationally minded people appreciate and value the diversity of cultures in the world and make an effort to learn more about them. 


Sue Gough – PYP Co-ordinator


PYP Year 6 Exhibition

It is one day before the 2019 Year 6 Exhibition opens.  It’s a day of preparation; a day where everything done over the past six weeks comes together.  This is the work of the boys.  They determined their area of inquiry based on their interests or passions.  They set the agenda for their research.  They created their plan and the curation of their exhibit.

Here we are then with just over a day to go and activity is everywhere.  When involved in experiences such as The Exhibition or, putting on major events, it always seems like just one more week would make a difference.  If only we had a little more time, it would be that much better.  Now as there is paper, thumb tacks, cardboard, piles of shoes, representations of brains hanging from the ceiling, a tent, a wave pool and generally mess everywhere, we wonder how this will come together.

The opening of The Exhibition has a creative element to it.  For this, the boys have been grouped to compose a song for each of the six Transdisciplinary Themes.  This will highlight the fact that for the first time, Newington Lindfield is not focusing on one theme, but allowing the boys to really look at where their passions are and look deeply into the issues surrounding them.  Do they have an interest in the environment, is it more about health issues, the creative domain or, is there something in sport that floats their boat?  So, we have to leave the mess and head up for rehearsal.  They seem ready but possibly a few more sessions would nail it.

A hectic day before and as it draws to a close, we think we’re ready.  Tomorrow is a big day.  Presenting to the school before lunch time, welcoming Roseville College Year 6 girls in the afternoon.  They too, will soon be on their Exhibition journey.  Finally, the evening where parents, family and friends descend and, for the first time, see the culmination of many weeks’ work.  There’s a sense of nervous anticipation as we close the doors with 24 hours to go.

The big day is exactly that.  Final touches in the morning.  The scheduled visits during the day prove to be very rewarding and of great help in refining presentations.  A quick opening rehearsal is squeezed in.  Now for the night.

What were we worrying about?  The Exhibition flows wonderfully.  The boys opening presentation is received with applause.  In the Exhibition spaces, boys and adults engage in deep and meaningful discussion around process, inquiry and new knowledge.  Prepared speeches are outstanding.  Every boy has stepped up.

The Exhibition as, with any presentation will never have enough time.  There will always be the feeling that it could be better.  The night proved that in all these things, the hard work is done.  The final rush will always happen.  Mess will always require cleaning up with just enough time before presentation.  The boys excelled and had a great time doing so.   


Final word from some of the boys…

As hard and as stressful it was, it all came together in the end and everyone did their fair share.” Henry Lapham

“It was hard to make but easy to present.” George Dunham

“Taking part in a debate is a good way to get people engaged.” Felix Ancher

“It was long and stressful but worth it in the end.” Lachie Brownrigg

“At the beginning of the process it was all over the place.  Towards the end it became more organised and we could see where we were going.” Felix Lee

“It’s a great experience to be able to follow your passion and achieve something great.” Oliver Senior

David Musgrove – Year 6 Teacher

Stage 1 Learning Rounds

We want a classroom that instils behaviours of independence, is highly engaging and allows teachers to spend focused time with all of our learners. In Stage One we structure our literacy and numeracy rounds in a simple but powerful model that:

  • helps students develop independence, stamina, and accountability;
  • provides students with an abundant amount of time for practicing reading, writing, and math;
  • increases the amount of time teachers spend with students one-on-one and in small groups
  • provides students with opportunities to make choices in their learning.

What does it look like?

There is a chart which separates our learning into multiple rounds with the same 5 options on each. Each boy has a peg that is used to tell him where he will be in that round, if he has not been assigned to work with a teacher, he is free to make a choice of where he would like to focus his learning for that session.

Around the classroom you will see a small group of boys working with a teacher, and others either collaborating in small groups or learning independently. At the end of each round, the boys’ transition into the next phase.

Why do we like it?

Relinquishing control and offering choice increases student engagemenexponentially and is one of the greatest motivators in students’ learningYou might think that the boys’ would always choose an iPad related learning activity or always return to an activity they are very familiar with, however, this is not the case! We see a popularity surge in activities over time as boys want to explore different aspects of their learning, to be challenged in a different area and become aware of what they need as learners on a given day.

Christine Hilder (Year 1) and Carol Peterson (Year 2) – Teachers



Why take time to draw?

When we draw, we take an opportunity to slow down, and to appreciate how the visual world works. By developing this skill, we gain a deeper understanding of our surroundings and learn a truly universal language. A drawing can communicate an idea more effectively than words. We champion drawing as a powerful tool for invention, for communicating complex concepts, and for its power to engage people with collections and exhibitions in museums, gallery and heritage sites. By fostering a greater understanding of what drawing can mean, and by increasing awareness and engagement, many more people can benefit from, and contribute to society by drawing.

‘Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image… visual literacy is based on the idea that pictures can be “read” and that meaning can be communicated through a process of reading.’

People of all ages, levels and abilities should be encouraged to take part in drawing activities. Just as it is vital for a child to see their parent read, to inspire reading. Parents are also encouraged to pick up a piece of paper and draw. If you read a story with passion and joy a child will want a story read again and again. Draw with vibrancy and colour. Let your child know what you are drawing and why you love drawing.

‘We live in a verbal culture where we think words are important and drawings are merely decorative. But there are hundreds of things for which drawing is wonderfully economical and efficient. It’s much easier for most of us to draw the way a deckchair works than to explain it in words.’ Quentin Blake.

For children, drawing is a means of understanding the world, how it looks, and how it works. It nurtures creativity, developing their imagination and power of invention. Drawing is a transferable skill which can be integrated into the entire curriculum. Believe in drawing to learn not learning to draw!

In this ever changing world drawing is tool that is used in various industries. People who use drawing in their daily work or practice include artists, designers, scientists, engineers and medical professionals. Perhaps an industry that your son will be a part of one day?


Kylie Bain – Art Teacher

Year 5 Exploring Patterns and Algebraic Thinking 

Students’ experiences with patterns and algebraic thinking in the primary years, build a strong foundation and lead later to more formal study of expressions, equations and functions in high school.  Essential for developing the boys’ algebraic thinking are experiences with creating, recognising and extending patterns.  This develops into describing patterns verbally and representing them symbolically in several ways – numerically on tables such as T-charts, algebraically using equations with variables and geometrically on coordinate graphs.  Functions evolve from the investigation of patterns and make it possible to predict results beyond the information presented.   

Over the past week, the Year 5 boys have been exploring problems involving patterns and learning how to present these patterns in a variety of ways.  One problem involved identifying the number of painted squares on cubes as they increased in size.  Initially the boys built a 1×1 cube using blocks, then a 2×2 cube and a 3×3 cube and so on. Each time they counted the number of squares which would need to be painted and recorded this data on a T-Chart.   

Once they were able to recognise a pattern emerging, they attempted to describe the pattern in words.  Some groups commented, “we see that it is the number of cubes high multiplied by itself then multiplied by 5” others noticed “it is the cube height squared, times 5”.  Following this, the boys were encouraged to represent the pattern algebraically. See the examples pictured below. 

The boys enjoyed building and exploring the patterns as well as trying to use the algebraic equation to calculate the number of painted squares in a cube much larger than those they could build.  It was wonderful to hear the boys’ conversations throughout these lessons as they tried to make sense of the data.  One boy remarked “This is actually really fun!” Who knew learning algebra could be so engaging? 

 Collen Chan – Learning Enhancement (Maths)


Mandarin – Exercise the Brain

The brain is an amazing and complex organ in our human body. In kid-friendly language: the brain is the boss of the body. Just like our body, we need to exercise our brains as we need to exercise our body to maintain health.   

To exercise our bodies, we can do from very light exercises like regular 30 minutes walking exercise (210 minutes active time per week), to a higher intense exercise like running. But brain exercises? I like a quote I saw long time ago: “The brain is a learning machine. To keep it strong, you must constantly learn new skills”.  Casually attending a language class or a music lesson instead of actively participating in the lesson will not remould your brain.   

In my class, from time to time, some boys would say: “It’s too hard, I can’t do it.”  I have always told them: “Good, you’ve found it hard. Your brain is challenged by the material. Now, what can we do to resolve this problem? Tell me what you have done so far? Have you checked xxx? WHAT is your plan to solve this problem?  

Of course, there are always easy solutions in the corner, copying someone’s work; not handing in work; self-talk “I can’t do it”, etc. but I refuse to take the easiest path Spoon-feeding is not one of my options. As a teacher and a parent, I firmly believe that we should not take the “Ah-ha” moment away from the children. It’s the moment when the children are most proud of themselves that they finally get it; it is the moment when they truly believe that they are capable of achieving something; it is the moment when they understand a concept and it is the moment when their brain makes connections. The joy of the moment is tremendous and so precious that we have no right to take it away from the children.    

None of us like to see our children struggle, howeverthe ability to see the positive side of things and taking all opportunities to exercise the brain, is a life skill the boys need. Our job is not taking the struggle away from them. Be there with them, work out possible solutions with them, but don’t solve the problems for them. Trust their ability, aim high and let the brains do the exercise! 


Eva Angel – Mandarin Teacher





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