Insights – meaningful Jewish experiential activities

Dear Community,

At King David we move to the rhythm of the Jewish calendar. Our weeks are punctuated with Kabbalot Shabbat and acknowledgment of the minor and major festivals. This term we have cycled through thematic changes in our school bells as we have transitioned from Purim to Pesach. At various times during the day, the air is punctuated with a different Hebrew earworm and while it is sometimes infuriating to catch oneself humming ‘Dayenu’ at inopportune moments, the overall message ...

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Insights – Gross National Happiness

Dear Community,

In March 1968 Robert Kennedy gave a speech in which he railed against the economic principle of measuring progress by growth in Gross Domestic Product (then called Gross National Product (GNP)). Kennedy explained that GNP was used to measure any economic activity regardless of the benefit to society but that it fails to address the valuable contribution to society of valuable but less quantifiable indicators of a society’s character.

He stated that “[GNP] counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ...

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Insights – the importance of “struggle time”

Dear Community,

This time a year ago I had the privilege of hearing eminent educational theorist, Sir Ken Robinson, speak at the National Future Schools Conference. As a prompt he presented a perplexing image of a multi-story brick building with many open windows. At each of these windows there were a number of adults balanced precariously on window ledges clinging to the window frames and looking inside the building. Robinson explained that the image was taken in Bihar in India and ...

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Insights – becoming upstanders

Dear Community,

This week we have all experienced an emotional rollercoaster. We have participated in the unique joy of Purim in the shadow of the extraordinary tragedy of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Purim is a festival that acknowledges our people’s survival in the face of those who sought to harm us because we were different. We recount with joy the bravery and genius of the heroes, Esther and Mordechai, in advocating for their people and overturning our doomed fate.

Last year I wrote ...

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Insights – a partnership between school and home

Dear Community,

At the Parent Information Evenings at the beginning of the school year I stated my belief that the best way to raise a child was in furious agreement between home and school. In saying this I hoped to emphasise the power of establishing genuine partnerships between parents and students.

I am reminded of an anecdote surrounding a discussion I had with one of my children’s football coach after his first game of football many years ago. At the conclusion of ...

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Insights – decoding the teenage brain

Dear Community,

How many of you have asked an adolescent (or have been asked as an adolescent): “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, then would you too?” My guess is many of you – so many in fact that the comedic website ‘Uncyclopedia’ dedicates a whole page to the question.

It begins by stating that this question “is a Zen koan [a riddle without a solution] posed by parents to children whenever a child cites popular opinion as the reason ...

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Insights – a culture of mindfulness and positivity

Dear Community,

There has been much written on the increased prevalence of anxiety, stress and depression among Australian students. It is thought that in excess of one in four Australian students will suffer from associated conditions. Experts have labelled the increase an ‘epidemic’ with the Black Dog Institute citing a 20% increase of youth anxiety diagnoses between 2012 and 2017.

The Mindful Schools organisation posits that many students suffer from “toxic stress.” They state that this “impairs attention, emotion and mood regulation, ...

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Insights – our metaphorical flute

Dear Community,

Please see below an excerpt from my speech at this week’s Back to School Service:

Our Jewish tradition teaches us that we must take the opportunity to acknowledge new things. When we mark new experiences we say the Shehecheyanu prayer. We thank God for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to experience this new moment. It encourages us to be mindful, take stock and enter new experiences with optimism and gratitude.

The Back to School Service is our acknowledgment ...

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Insights – preserving our children’s future

Dear Community,

Whenever I am lucky enough to spend time in our pre-schools and kindergartens, I find children engrossed in all things dinosaur. A random three-year-old seems able to identify with incredible specificity the names and identifying features of different dinosaurs at a level that would make any palaeontologist proud. The fascination with these prehistoric creatures seems to be embedded in children’s psyches and is arguably connected to our awe that such immensely large and powerful beings could ever become extinct.

Sometimes ...

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Insights – marking the passage of time

Dear Community,

Welcome to our 2019 school year! At our opening Senior School assembly, I addressed our students on the theme of marking the passage of time. It seems to be an almost universal anthropological phenomenon that each culture has formed a way of celebrating or acknowledging the transition between months, seasons or years.

While this is pertinent now due to the celebrations acknowledging Chinese New Year, we can also look to the celebrations in Iran and Afghanistan around Nowruz (Persian new ...

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