19 February 2018

Respect and Responsibility

As the new year has begun, I have been fortunate to attend a number of assemblies in Junior, Middle and Senior School. Many of these were year group meetings and it was pleasing to hear the messages that were being shared with the boys by senior staff.

Without exception, the key elements being stressed revolved around respect and responsibility. As our boys grow into young men, we need to give them greater responsibility for their own lives, as well as allowing them to share the responsibility for the type of community in which we live. Self-respect is a key element in this, as is respect for others and respect for our environment.

We live in a world where the concept of respect is being challenged. Having - and showing - respect is sometimes difficult when we are presented with opinions that contradict our world view. It is also challenging when the language used is aggressive, inflammatory, demeaning, rude or incites people to behave in a way that contradicts our values. It is perhaps the inherent contradiction within western society that freedom of speech means giving people the right to speak out against free speech and to undermine the society which is built upon it.

If we respect ourselves and our society, I think we have an obligation to understand why people have opinions which contradict our own. We have to find a way to counter their point of view by doing exactly what they will not or cannot - by showing respectful determination to defend our position; respect for ourselves, if for no-one else. Maya Angelou put it quite perfectly: "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." The best way to counter the arguments of extremists is to make sure we do not become them. And whilst as a society we may sometimes need to resort to drastic measures to counter extremism, we must always be willing to listen and try to understand in order to protect the freedoms we cherish. The triumph of western civilisation, if there is one, lies in our willingness to put our values under the microscope and defend them robustly by word and deed. We begin this process in schools by treating each other with respect, and by questioning and discussing things in a respectful way.

Reminders

With the start of the year, I remind parents that we have access to SchoolTV, which is a unique digital wellbeing platform targeted at parents. It covers a wide array of topics relevant to young people (for example, Depression, Anxiety, Online Pornography, Social Media and, most recently, Coping with Year 12) and draws its material from a variety of sources. Many of these topics relate to both Primary and Secondary aged children. The material is presented in short, easy-to-manage chunks, often a short video. You can access the SchoolTV archive here: http://scotch.wa.schooltv.me/category-latest-newsletter. Alternatively, you can go to home.SCOTCH and search for SchoolTV or Wellbeing.

Throughout the year, Relationships Australia run a number of courses at different locations around Perth. Some of these are presented over several weeks; others take 2 ½ hours. Many revolve around communication skills and managing difficult emotions; different courses aim to support blended families and single-parent families. You can find a list of these here.

Maggie Dent is presenting a seminar at the Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre in Wembley on 15 February on "The Importance of Calmness, Silence and Stillness in Children's Lives". She is an engaging presenter and this is an important topic in today's world. More information can be found here.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing