Showcase Celebrations! 2022 HSC Showcase Visual Arts and D&T

Showcase Celebrations! 2022 HSC Showcase Visual Arts and D&T

04 Aug 2022

Term 3 is a very special time for our most senior cohort. As our Year 12 students really buckle down to their study, focusing on a deep and meaningful synthesis of all they have learnt and honing their examination technique in preparation for their Trial and final HSC exams, it is also a period of celebration and fulfilment as the practical components of their courses are completed and put on show.

The Visual Arts and Design Showcase was an enormous success, and the works on display demonstrated perfectly the significant achievements that are realised when will is directed by thought and enlivened by feeling.

The functional yet incredibly beautiful Pedal Pod, the innovative Cricket Ball Buddy, the very aesthetic Gym Wall that anyone would happily install in a spare room and the calming Terrariums that revealed a philosophical understanding of past, present and future, all spoke to the fulfilment of the design process that births the new through considered, sustained effort. The culmination of Glenaeon’s Artisan program in the HSC Design and Technology course thus examples the pinnacle of student led will activity.

Championing the realm of feeling are the Visual Arts works and this cohort’s offerings were up to the usual very high standard we expect of Glenaeon’s Year 12 students. Whimsical worldviews from childhood, bodies and organs as commodities, perceptions of self, the art of aging, mental states of distress and tranquillity, everyday objects repurposed for adornment, 21st century maturing and the blueprint of form and function were all concepts that were subtly explored by the students through artistic endeavours that evidenced a sensitive feeling-into their personal experiences of being. These works demonstrate fulfilment of the visual branch of Glenaeon’s Aesthetic curriculum and speak to the beautiful awakening that is arrived at through art.

Most wonderfully this year, the Showcases are again open to the broader school community and, along with teachers and Year 12 families and guests, the great number of Year 10 and 11 parents and students present at the event on Friday, 22 July brought a lively buzz to the evening. The works on display were not only admired by all who recognised and appreciated the students’ valuable, creative output, they also inspired our younger cohorts and got students thinking about what they themselves may like to produce in the not too distant future! 

The celebrations will continue, and please come along to the Music and Humanities Showcase on Friday, 26 August!


Thank you!

Our senior teachers play an integral role in the development of each student’s Major Work and I and the Glenaeon community extends deep-felt gratitude to Visual Arts teachers Ms Alisan Smotlak (Head of Department) and Ms Donna Miller and to Design and Technology Senior Teacher, Mr Anthony Fiore. Their reflections on their course and their students’ progress, as well as their blessings, are a delightful read below.  

 

The Year 12 Visual Arts Showcase is a celebration of who you are and what you have achieved thus far.  May the arts take you forward into life with appreciation of what creativity and imagination can be, limitless in its capacity to feed the soul!

I am trying to imagine myself standing in front of you all and the harvest of your hard work and efforts over the past three terms!  You have all produced art that you likely never imagined would be possible!  You have each been on a personal journey of discovery, heartache, problem solving and realisation!  On that journey, I’m sure you have learned a great deal about yourselves, and just what you are capable of! With every hurdle, you drew strength and carried on. When it hurt the most, you recovered to be stronger!  Donna Miller, Teacher of Visual Arts Practical Year 12 2022

 

The HSC Visual Arts is a rich course where the student has the opportunity to explore and discover a variety of materials and concepts. The goal towards the dynamic synthesis of these elements reflects the world experienced by a senior student on the precipice of moving forward into the adult world.

The challenges and joys the artwork takes the student through are backbones to be drawn upon when encountering the many interesting experiences that life will bring.  Alisan Smotlak, Head of Department (Visual Arts)

 

Design and Technology has a unique focus on creativity, innovation and the successful implementation of inventive ideas. Through the development of a Major Design Project, students have the opportunity to explore and develop technologies and demonstrate insight into the future uses of technology. This year, the students have demonstrated qualities of perseverance, project management and creative problem solving in the development and realisation of their projects. Each of them have learnt and developed an appreciation for the complex relationships that exist between factors that impact on designing and using technology. Further to this, each student exhibits a deep understanding of the importance these aspects play in the future use of technology and its relationship to the environment and the forwarding of human kind.   Mr. Anthony Fiore - Design and Technology Teacher

 

*Please note photos of student works cannot be published yet due to NESA embargo restrictions

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Main Lessons: Meaningful Learning in World Citizenship

Main Lessons: Meaningful Learning in World Citizenship

17 Mar 2022

Last Thursday I ran a Parent Education session on the “big picture” of the Main Lesson curriculum that our teachers deliver at Glenaeon, and if you wish to see a recording, here is the link: 

https://glenaeon-nsw.zoom.us/rec/share/LJ_-b2ZSeL4FaaHNECLaFF1nKDrDroxOfMbPILQQFB7OYAW7ZAK0227sjVcXLHlU.Lg9TXiUq32C2u5hr
Access Passcode: dhrty12! 

This unique curriculum probably deserves a more expansive name than Main Lessons, which simply describes their place as the main lesson of the day. One very supportive family whose three children had been right through the school suggested Explorations as a better name, more suggestive they felt of the breadth and expansive quality of mind that the Main Lessons foster. 

My own preference for a new name is World Citizenship. This unique curriculum comprises no less than 140 experiences that build understandings in specific subjects and most importantly, tells the story of humanity, the golden thread of human development from the fairy tale world at the dawn of human consciousness to the sophisticated 21st century world that has us facing the challenge of how to maintain a human future. By telling the human story from beginnings to now, the Main lessons build a sense of each student’s place as a future world citizen.

In preparing the talk, I was reminded of a retrospective that one of our long term students wrote just days before she finished Year 12. Mia Westcott’s Year 12 retrospective is a long and considered piece, reflecting the deep intelligence that since leaving Glenaeon has seen her graduate in Medicine and become medical practitioner working with disadvantaged aboriginal women in the Newcastle area. Written as she finished school and was looking back on her journey, one of her final paragraphs describes how powerful she found our Main lesson program.

I have always found Main Lesson such a huge part of my life at Glenaeon, a fascinating and enjoyable experience. The things I have learnt in Main Lessons seem to recur throughout life, and make daily life a richer experience. I have found evidence of this when travelling, such as when I knew as much about Norse Mythology as the tour guide when in Norway, felt like I was with old friends when looking at the wonderful paintings and architecture of the Renaissance in Italy, and actually knew what the guide was talking about in India, as I had studied both the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. My parents have made me realise just how lucky I am to have learnt about all these things, and I would have thought it perfectly normal, but for the fact that they often didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Main Lessons were also an excuse to draw and be creative, and when I look back at my main lesson books, I remember the great pleasure I received from this. I have to admit, I still have every single Main Lesson book from primary school and most from high school, and (don't tell anyone), I actually enjoy getting them out and looking through them, remembering the fantastic stories.

Another Glenaeon graduate, also a doctor and also in the Newcastle area, donated his entire Main Lesson book collection to our archives. Dr Andrew Keyworth who runs a family practice in Charlestown, mentioned to me after one of our GlenX evenings that he was cleaning out his garage and couldn’t bear to throw out the product of his primary schooling at Glenaeon. All his main lesson books from his class teacher years has journeyed with him through various family moves, his university training and his own family homes. He was reluctant to throw out the books he had created as a record of his own learning at Glenaeon. We gladly accepted them, acknowledging once again how powerful meaningful learning can be. Meaningful learning builds Meaningful Lives!

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The Cultural Cycle of the Year

The Cultural Cycle of the Year

03 Mar 2022

Every morning we wake up, roll over in bed, sit up and perhaps lie back down, and we then eventually find ourselves standing on our feet. At that moment we are conscious of ourselves in space, although I admit that it would be unusual if that realisation genuinely arose to the level of a concrete thought on a daily basis. At the same time, the fact that it is a new day, that we have moved on from yesterday, are standing in the present, and are starting to prepare ourselves for the future, reveals to us the reality that we are beings in the stream of time. Again, not necessarily a realisation that is dwelt upon at 6:00am. Nevertheless, each morning as we start our day we leave the world of sleep where we have had no sense of space or time and again awake into a three-dimensional physical reality and an inner sense of continuity. When we are feeling well, we awake to a rightful sense of place (space) and an experience of purpose and meaning (time). 

Experiencing wellbeing in the context of ‘the self in space’ relies on our bodies being healthy and in balance, and our environment being safe, beautiful and appropriately stimulating. Experiencing wellbeing in the context of ‘the self in time’ is more complex, but an essential element is the assurance of continuity which relies on our innate trust in and experience of rhythms. Trust in the 24-hour day/night cycle and our unconscious comfort in the knowledge that the sun will set in the evening and rise in the morning is foundational to a healthy sense of ourselves in time, and we all acknowledge the necessity of the rhythmic balance between being awake and descending into asleep. For most of us, trust at this most basic of levels is thankfully a given. The importance of the weekly cycle, and the balance between work and play and the ways in which this rhythm impacts our wellbeing is also something quite universally understood. Having an awareness of how the yearly rhythm gently underpin our wellbeing and sense of purpose and meaning, however, is an aspect that isn’t as immediately apparent. Instead, it is a realisation which rises slowly into relief when elements that enhance our experience of this support are taken away.

Throughout the last two years, the daily and weekly rhythms have, on the whole, been maintained, with the school-week/weekend pattern remaining in place during both on-campus and online learning. The physical nature of the yearly cycle, with the changing of the seasons, has also continued to be experienced. However, cultural events that punctuated the passing of time in the social/emotional sphere largely fell away. With the cancellation of the autumn, midwinter and spring festivals, the annual Year 10 musical and school concert, year-level milestone celebrations and the Carol Service (to name a few), a diminishing sense of time began to emerge. As we failed to find trust in a cycle greater than a single week, we found ourselves finding it hard to connect with a sense of purpose and meaning and with a rhythm larger than our own. We were missing a yearly cycle that on the cultural level punctuated the mundane with celebratory events that unite us as a community through shared activity and experience.

The start of 2022 carried with it aspects that left us still wary, but gradually conditions are again arising that will allow us to plan again for a cultural celebration of the year. The academic program, with our sequencing of the main lessons, ordering of our lesson delivery and timing of assessment deadlines, could be said to present the yearly cycle our high school students experience in the realm of thinking. The seasons, with changes in light, temperature and rainfall (!), present the yearly cycle we encounter in the external, physical world. But it is the cultural, yearly cycle that speaks to our feelings, to our social/emotional selves and to our true humanness.

These months since March of 2020 have for many of us merged to create an undefined period that can’t quite be understood in terms of years. Term 4 last year, with its unusual on-campus start in Week 3, felt more like January than October, and returning this year, with a revival of heightened anxiety following increasing COVID cases, felt somewhat as if Christmas had never happened. But just in the last few weeks a lot has changed. The concept of ‘future’ can be tentatively entertained and there is much to anticipate. The Year 8 Outdoor Education program which occurred last week was a great success. The high school swimming carnival is set for tomorrow, and we are looking forward to again meeting with friends from other Steiner schools. Year 7 students’ trip to the Newnes Plateau will head out over the coming weeks and singing, music ensembles and extracurricular activities are back on! Most importantly, the first of the festivals is being planned. On Monday, 21 March an equinox will occur in the southern hemisphere. On this date, day and night will be very close to being of equal length and we can reflect on what that may mean metaphorically for our inner experiences of ‘lightness and darkness’. This too marks the moment after which nights will become longer, and when we enter autumn and can reflect on that season’s characteristics.

Grounded on the firm foundations of the reality of the annual, seasonal journey, we lift the yearly cycle to the cultural, social/emotional level as we bring these reflections alive for the high school students at the Harvest Festival set for Wednesday, 23 March. And we very much hope that this celebration will be the beginning of many more. Let the rest of the outdoor education programs stream right ahead, and let the twilight music concerts, the midwinter and spring festivals, the Year 10 musical and all the rest unfold. In doing so, let us again find assurance that we can rely on the cycle of the year to provide us with culturally experienced richness and a sense that time is passing meaningfully and purposefully, and that our place in that stream of time is assured.

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Welcome to wonderful 2023

Welcome to wonderful 2023

03 Feb 2022

‘Even the wisest can learn incalculably from children’ – Rudolf Steiner

 

 

 

A new school year begins
The school year is finally underway! It is a truth universally acknowledged that teachers and those involved in the business of running schools never sleep well in the nights before a new school year begins. Perhaps the same is true for parents too, and for our children.  The anticipation of a new year holds so much promise in its unwritten state: the narrative is yet to unfold, the characters only partly formed, the plot merely a series of predictable signposts that mark out a typical school year.  This is a good time to engage in conversation with your child about the year ahead. By listening deeply to their hopes, wishes and worries, parents and carers have an ideal opportunity to expose inner thoughts and feelings, and gain insight and wisdom about the most appropriate way to respond.  Class teachers, Mentors and Advisors are a wonderful source of support and connection at any time, but especially at the beginning of a new school year. Please feel very welcome to bring forward questions, wonderings and ideas.

It was indeed wonderful to welcome students back to Castlecrag and Middle Cove campus’ on Wednesday. What struck me? The confident and positive manner in which our students greeted their teachers, friends and new classmates.  Long may it continue! At Castlecrag, the beautiful Rainbow Bridge ceremony marked the start of the next chapter of learning and growing for those entering Class 1, and again, a sense of calm confidence was on display as our Kindergarten graduates gathered on the Class 1 balcony. 

 

Staff Seminar Days
Prior to the start of term, Glenaeon staff engaged in a series of professional learning sessions during our Seminar and Planning Days.  The 2023 Staff Days were designed for exploration of what it means to Build Meaningful Lives as custodians of the past and champions of the future. At the heart of this work lies a deep investigation into our school’s identity, our culture, our challenges, and the opportunities that await. We’ve only just begun and look forward to sharing this work with the wider community over the course of this year. Special thanks to our guest presenter, Nicole Ostini from Samford Valley Steiner School who provided a beautiful balance of assurance and provocation for us to carry forward, and to the fifteen Glenaeon teachers who led sessions. (Take a look at the photos in the gallery below.)

COVID-Safe Measures for Term 1
For some of our youngest learners, this new school year is unique, as it heralds the first for them without the global pandemic impacting usual operations to a significant degree.  It’s important for parents and carers to note however, that COVID-Safe measures are still in place at school this term and we ask that families are supportive of the School’s priority to keep our community safe.  Detailed information can be found below, in this newsletter.

  • The school will continue to implement good and encourage good hygiene practices including regular hand washing with soap and warm water and/or use of hand sanitiser;
  • Students, staff, and visitors should only attend school when they are well;
  • We will continue to send home students or staff displaying symptoms of being unwell, including cold and flu symptoms; and
  • From Term 1, teachers will no longer be posting work online for COVID-positive students. High School students are expected to liaise with and seek support from their subject teachers. 

New staff
This year we welcome a number of new staff who will be introduced over the course of the next few Newsletters.  Today, I’m thrilled to introduce the following teachers to the Glenaeon community.  You can read more details about each of them HERE.

  • Nicholas Greenfield, English and History Teacher, High School     
  • Frederic Hemming, Mathematics Teacher, High School    
  • Sally Mock, English and Society and Culture Teacher, High School
  • Leyla Rousouli, Science Teacher, High School
  • Jonathan Shaw, Class 1 Teacher, Primary School
  • Sarah Simmons, PDHPE Teacher, Primary School
  • Lydia Wilson, English Teacher, High School

On behalf of the entire Glenaeon community, a very warm welcome to you all.  We are thrilled to have you join the team.

New Parent Soiree
If you haven’t already, please RSVP to this special event next Friday. The Soiree provides an ideal opportunity to engage with other Glenaeon parents in a casual sand beautiful setting, and learn more about the opportunities available for parents within our community. See invite below.

 

With very best wishes,

Diana Drummond 
Head of School

 

 

 

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Congratulations Glenaeon HSC Class of 2021!

Congratulations Glenaeon HSC Class of 2021!

20 Jan 2022

2021 HSC Results Statement from Andrew Hill, Head of School

I am delighted to be able to congratulate the Class of 2021 whose HSC journey has been one of the most difficult in living memory.

Glenaeon’s Year 12 of 2021, like all HSC students in the state, have set the bar high in their response to unprecedented challenges. They have all met these circumstances with strength and goodwill, stood together and weathered the storm of COVID restrictions and exam uncertainties with an equanimity which belies their years. Their character has certainly been forged in the fire of adversity and they take with them a strong foundation of resilience to build their future lives. My advice to students has always been that success at the HSC is not so much about how smart you are, but how smart you work: they will learn skills in managing themselves that will last a lifetime. This year’s cohort has learned something even more: how to stay the distance even when the finishing line is stretched further than you ever thought.

Well done, Class of 2021, we are proud of you: your efforts, your strength, your resilience and your determination. We look forward to seeing you go forth and do great things!

 

Andrew Hill
Head of School

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An End of Year

An End of Year

03 Dec 2021

Congratulations everyone! We have made it through one of the most challenging of years, and though we are not without scars, we are at least able to look back on some achievements. There will be a final letter to all families with some wrap up details, and plans for next year. Thank you to everyone for your patience and equanimity, and good will in working together.

The missing thing for the end of 2021 is the absence of those events which mark the students’ celebration of Christmas, always so joyful and uplifting. In line with a year of minimal yet meaningful messages, here is a small offering from Michael Leunig which I trust captures a very essential element of this festival of birth and new beginnings. May Christmas 2021 be fulfilling and uplifting in its own unique way. I wish all families a joyful celebration of this end of year and look forward to meeting up again, in person, in 2022.

 

 

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A Breath of Fresh Air: Taking the Inside Out

A Breath of Fresh Air: Taking the Inside Out

18 Nov 2021

There’s an old architectural design mantra that promotes Bringing the Outside In, which is about using large natural forms and building them into internal design principles. Over the past few weeks we’ve been doing exactly the opposite, and Taking the Inside Out. The need for good ventilation has driven many classes outside, and what a breath of fresh air it has brought, in all meanings of the term.

At Middle Cove we are using seven “official” new outside learning spaces to ensure all our high school lessons are as ventilated as possible. There are other less official spaces that teachers have found, in outdoor nooks and crannies that can accommodate smaller groups of students. Our bushland campus has really come into its own as all schools struggle to ensure students and teachers are as ventilated as possible.

Now there are challenges in outdoor learning. As any good teacher knows, a lesson needs to have a sense of integrity, a “skin” around it that holds the students and teacher/s in a unity with a common purpose in learning. In simple terms, everyone, both students and teacher, need to focus on the lesson and on their common task, otherwise the learning is less.

The four walls of the usual classroom space provide a physical boundary that gives one layer of the “skin” around a lesson. But as we all know, that’s not enough, and a lesson can so easily lose focus even within the most solid walls.

It’s the art of the teacher to create the intangible “skin” by drawing the students into the web of interest, enthusiasm and focused attention that every good lesson needs. Teachers create the “skin” themselves and learning this art, for an art it is, is the result of the sheer hard work that goes into training to be a teacher.

So taking lessons outside has a big challenge in one sense. How do you sustain student attention when you have kookaburras cackling, the wind on the trees, a distant chainsaw and the odd brush turkey wandering past, not to mention the visual distractions of a panorama of pleasant trees to look at? So the art of the teacher comes into its own in the outdoor classroom setting. Teachers need to be on their toes keeping attention and focus.

But the benefits are immense. At a time when clean air is a precious commodity, the sheer  quality of fresh air at Middle Cove is impressive. The thick natural forest next to the waters of Middle Harbour create a highly oxygenated air flow which must make the campus one of the healthiest educational settings you can imagine.

Outdoor learning is nothing new to Glenaeon, it’s been part of our DNA since inception. Embedding learning in a natural environment was the foundational design of the school. One of the founders of our school Eric Nicholls, the junior partner of Walter and Marion Burly Griffin, first articulated his plans for a school in a natural setting as early as 1952, when he described his vision of creating a village-like series of classroom buildings in a bushland setting. His foundational design has echoed on in all the design principles that have shaped Glenaeon’s grounds ever since. Every window in the school looks out on to trees and green spaces.

How ahead of his time was that? Research that started at the University of Colorado in the 1990’s found some interesting results regarding health and wellbeing connected with “green” school yards. In general, and screening out such factors as socio-economic advantage, they found a connection between green spaces on a school campus and the health and wellbeing of its student population. The research is population research, so it covers many schools and many students, but it does suggest we have about as healthy a schoolyard as you can get. The Japanese “Forest Bathing’ movement with its associated research is demonstrating the physical benefits of extended time in forest settings, which is what our students enjoy every day.

The research is so pertinent in this time when air quality for students is such a hot topic. A local researcher is now working on the health of Australian high school grounds: Gweneth Leigh at the University of Canberra is completing a PhD on the how the design of secondary schoolyards has an impact on the wellbeing of students. She is hoping to raise awareness of how profoundly important green school grounds are for student wellbeing and health. Glenaeon is part of her study and we have shared our vision and practice of learning that is integrated into the natural environment.

Hopefully one silver lining from this challenging time might be a realisation that we need to take the inside out more often in schools. Students need their learning integrated into natural spaces for health and wellbeing reasons. If as a society we can learn that, it really will be a breath of fresh air.

 

Andrew Hill
Head of School

 

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Let’s step into the NEW!

Let’s step into the NEW!

21 Oct 2021

And we are back … and I have to say, what a blessing it is!

It’s not very often that we get to experience the freshness of a new school year in October, but arriving at the Middle Cove campus this week after exactly 116 days away, working from home, has been reminiscent of precisely that moment that is usually experience in mid-January, when teachers but not yet students arrive back from the summer holidays ready for new learning and what’s ahead.

At that pivotal point each year there is a quiet readiness and a careful holding of the space, with both teachers and the campus environment itself feeling rejuvenated, preparing to welcome the students back. Interestingly, that same experience is here again now, although I was certainly not anticipating that with a long period of remote learning at my back and a general assumption that I was heading into that aging part of the year where things start to gallop towards a close!

The beauty of the bushland that we all so often take for granted, the nestled classrooms in village-like configurations, the biodynamic garden overflowing with an abundance of nasturtiums, sweet peas, poppies and overall new growth, and the clean and tidy classrooms and hallways are here waiting, looking forward to next Monday when the high voices of the Class 3 to 6 children ring out over the walkway as the Year 7 to 11 students find their way down the hillside and spread out into the body of the school.

Back at home, as your child crawls towards their last day of online study, I anticipate that the picture I have painted hasn’t been alive in your mind or in theirs, as it wasn’t in mine! At least for some, the bedroom may have become a little if not a lot den-like, and the screen may be beaming both the science main lesson as well as the latest Netflix series. I like to think that that hasn’t been the case, and I am conscious that it hasn’t been for all, but I am only too aware that for many high school students the capacity to keep learning fresh without in situ classroom experience has well and truly waned, and that the lack of delineation between home and school, family life and work has reached its expiry date. And … I am happy to announce that that will be all swept away!

As much as staff meetings and collegial planning continued (and in fact intensified) during this lockdown period, and as much as I knew that the answer to a question was at the end of the email, phone call or the Zoom, it was only after I was back on campus that I realised the effect our remoteness and distance had had on the efficiency with which matters could be resolved and in a sense, my motivation. Suddenly, a discussion that would have needed careful scheduling could happen on the driveway and a document I needed to finalise could be edited in a flash.

While the experience of the return will be a little different for each student, I anticipate that much will also be universally felt and may somewhat align with my own. The teachers’ facial expressions, body gestures and the rise and fall of their voices will be that much more engaging, the task at hand will be easier to understand and the work of peers around them will spur effort on. Teachers will readily be able to see the degree to which a student is grasping a concept and whether the work is in fact getting done, right there and then. Importantly, the screen will be off!

But most vital of all, the environment will support the learning activity. The classroom space will be bigger than the bedroom or kitchen table and will be well equipped, the bushland and the Middle Cove setting will bring a feeling of lightness and health, the blue sky overhead will provide that summer expansiveness that engenders a breathing out after a period of contraction, and the community of other people, the students’ friends, will bring to life belonging and connection. And the students will return having grown, not just physically but emotionally and cognitively as well, and their teachers will draw on their newly developed capacities and take hold of the zest for life that will be evident.

Newness brings with it growth potential, and while I had expected to experience a return to the old when I came back on site, I instead encountered the beginnings of something new. I anticipate the students will experience the same.

So I have decided not to welcome the students back to campus next Monday, but instead to welcome them to October 25, 2021, and then to October 26, 27… and on and on to days that haven’t yet happened, to dates which are in the future. So although there is work to be done in ascertaining what was and wasn’t retained during our time away, there is also the realisation that there is no need to go over the old and that in fact we are not coming back. We are instead going forwards and on each day when the students come here to learn, they will be stepping into learning that will be new … and I can’t wait for that to begin.

See you, dear students, next Monday!

Elizabeth Nevieve
Deputy Head of School (Years 7-12)

 

 

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Remote Learning with Feathers

Remote Learning with Feathers

05 Aug 2021

In a recently republished article written by Jonathan Zecher, a word from antiquity was brought to my awareness and I was struck by how aptly the author paralleled the ancient sentiment with our current experience. Acedia, an ancient Greek word for an emotion that is akin to listlessness, and which also hints at lethargy, apathy and indifference, speaks of an experience that can be described as a ‘turning away from the spirit’. But what is the nature of this spirit with which some of us may be struggling to connect?

When the first lockdown hit us in 2020 and when remote learning rolled out in March of that year, it happened fast. It was challenging, daunting and unfamiliar, but it was also a little intriguing, somewhat absorbing and certainly adrenaline producing… it was a new frontier. Teachers and high school students rapidly learnt new skills that definitely weren’t part of the syllabi, and they quickly became accustomed to new uses of technology and an as yet untried approach to lesson delivery and learning. Some things immediately worked well, other aspects needed refining, but we were all on a steep learning curve together. It was exhausting, but in the way running a race is exhausting, where high energy is expended over a short period of time and the respite following offers much needed release and rest that can be taken up. The novel coronavirus was indeed a novelty and like it or not, we all turned to the spirit of the times and embraced what had to happen. 

But this time around it is different. Many of us are accepting but the newness has certainly worn off, and the longer lockdown with an uncertain end date necessitates a sustained reorientation. In many ways, the fact that we all know what we’re doing has enabled a smooth transition that augurs greater success! Many students report finding their lessons engaging and the workload quite manageable. They enjoy seeing their friends and appreciate the structure of the day, with learning introduced by their teachers through teleconferencing before setting off on the tasks themselves. Teachers are impressed with the students’ participation and are confident that learning is still occurring, and they are very grateful for parent support!

However, there is the feeling that the community (along with the State!) is holding its breath. Teachers, students and parents alike are observing this period in the way that fathers and mothers of young children brace for a long car trip. Have we bought enough snacks? Did we work out the rest stops?! (I remember my own mother planning for an 800km road trip with my then four-year-old daughter and telling my step-father to ‘spare no expense!’). But in this context, what specifically are the tasty morsels that will sufficiently interject what would otherwise be a monotonous term and where exactly are the rest stops?

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COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

07 Jul 2021

During the COVID-19 crisis, Glenaeon has been keeping Parents and Carers regularly informed as things rapidly change and unfold.

LATEST: Letter to Parents and Carers - 7 July 2021

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The Sixth A

The Sixth A

03 Jun 2021

In our last Newsletter Dani Finch outlined how our program of 5A’s meets the six 21st century capabilities. But there’s a sixth A, though we don’t talk about it much.

Julia Baird’s recent best-seller has brought it into the open and it’s time to talk about it. Her title says everything: Phosphorescence:  On awe, wonder, and things that sustain you when the world goes dark. The book has sold 150,000 copies in Australia and was the publishing phenomenon of the pandemic year. In the year when so many things went dark, her beautifully written book spoke to so many people about how to seek and find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the inner light in the ordinary world around us. Julia’s book told her own story of survival through extraordinarily challenging difficulties of pain and loss, and how she built reserves that in the face of these challenges, brought her “immense beauty”. She touched death numbers of times and she learned a number of lessons to cope.

A key lesson? “Seek awe, and nature, daily”.

As I read her book, I thought again of a constant question in my mind: how can we prepare children to find that feeling of awe, the sustaining sense that life is spectacular and grand, and we all have a place in it.

If this is such a human need, why aren’t schools making it a part of daily life? How can schools make sure that awe, and nature, are part of every child’s daily education?

Her book is a reminder that we all need bread as much as stones to nourish our inner lives. Feelings of awe nourish our inwardness. How sad that the language of education is yet to embrace this profound and essential human need as a fundamental for schools, just as much as other subjects.

Glenaeon draws on the rich heritage of Steiner education to embed feeling of awe and wonder in our daily school journey. Here are some of the ways we do it:

Morning verse: we start each day with a mindful reflection on the great powers of life. In a little touch of daily awe, a simple non-denominational verse starts our work for each student and teacher/mentor/guardian with a reminder that we are part of a bigger whole, that our lives are woven into a grander design than our minds can sometime fathom.

Stories: the special moment in a primary class day is story time, usually just before morning Recess. When all is quiet, a candle is lit and the teacher tells, in person, a story from world tales or their own imagination. For a teacher there is no more special moment in the day than seeing this crowd of expectant faces, waiting to be moved and touched by the power of imagination. So many of the stories carry the curriculum and in primary school even Maths and Science lessons can be woven out of and developed from a well-crafted story. Right up into high school, our classes enjoy a moment of wonder as the story unfolds, and the mind is taken to far off places and remarkable deeds.

Poetry: Our commitment to spoken poetry through the school says so much, just as a poem compacts meaning into a few lines. How much awe is in these 29 simple words?

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

 

Festivals: a man of aboriginal descent recently told me how impressed he was at his children’s Steiner school because they celebrated seasonal festivals, such as MidWinter when the children carry a candle and build a communal spiral of lights on the year’s darkest day. He hadn’t found other institutions so connected with the rhythms of the year, something which to him as an indigenous person was so fundamental. Our western style seasons have of course been simplistic and blunt compared to the nuanced and embedded aboriginal consciousness, but at least we have a feeling of awe and connection with the turning of the year.

Nature: “the quiet healing properties of Nature” writes Julia. Our Middle Campus is a haven in the busy north shore, with a backyard that includes the exquisite Scotts Creek as it winds through mangroves to Middle Harbour. Our Outdoor Education program explicitly takes students to wild outdoor places where as well as stretching themselves against the forces of rivers and rocks, they can sit and absorb the quiet majesty of wilderness. The power of place is a sense in itself, and needs regular educating.

Cuttlefish: “For me, cuttlefish are symbols of awe” says Julia. Our Main Lesson curriculum charts a course through the rich stories of history, Science, Maths and literature, finding an implicit sense of wonder in our human connections with the world’s phenomena. How special it was to read Chapter 1 in Julia’s book which is titled Lessons from a Cuttlefish. We traditionally start our study of animals in Class 4 with the cuttlefish and examine their remarkable structure. Implicit in our scientific study is a sense of wonder at the extraordinary way the cuttlefish moves through the ocean.

The 5A’s of the Glenaeon journey educate the whole human being: Academic, Aesthetic, Artisan, Altruistic, Active Wilderness. But holding them all together is the sixth A, the special sense that life is grand and powerful, and we all have a place in it, the sustaining sense of Awe.

Andrew Hill
Head of School

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The Education You Need

The Education You Need

20 May 2021

Inspiration and ideas for newsletter pieces sometimes come at the strangest times. Recently, a left-leaning, Snoopy-loving friend posted this cartoon on her social media page. In it, the mild-mannered and renowned philosopher Charlie Brown turns to his classmate and tells her straight, “No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them”. Responses to my friend’s post ranged from the love heart emoji to “Terrifyingly true!”

I wrote “Inspiring!”  

We hear a great deal in the media and from politicians about preparing children for the future they will inherit. Much of the rhetoric centres around being ‘job ready’, and mastery of technology is paramount.   At Glenaeon, we agree that these are essential elements of a rounded education. Still, when we make them our focus, the capacity of an education system to inspire and inform the next generation of change-makers is savagely diminished.

So, how are we preparing our students to resolve some of the messes we both inherited and created?    How does Glenaeon give students the education they need to ‘overthrow’ and create a new, more equitable and sustainable future? It is interesting to answer this question through the lens of the 6c’s of Education in the 21st Century: Character Education, Citizenship, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Collaboration. Developed by Michael Fullan O.C, Global Leadership Director of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) and a worldwide authority on educational reform, the 6 ‘s are inherent in Glenaeon’ s 5A’s program:

Academic – The Main Lesson sequence places a child in time. While in Primary School, teachers immerse children in imaginative pictures that inspire Character and Citizenship; in High School, students are taught to Critically analyse information, sources and their place in the fabric of society.

Artisan & Aesthetic – From craft and beeswax models to 3D printing and performing in an orchestra, a Glenaeon education is inherently one of Creativity.

Altruistic -  Belonging to a community where we abide by a respectful social contract in our interactions and give of ourselves inside and outside the school requires Communication, Collaboration and Citizenship. Be that through caring for Scotts Creek, serving on the Student Eco Group or performing service as part of the Duke of Edinburgh program or in the Northern Territory working with the Aboriginal students at Macfarlane Primary School.  

Active Wilderness –To journey with a group in a remote location (or even on a bushwalk to Warner’s Park) requires Communication, Collaboration and Citizenship.  To do it well builds Character.

Preparing for an uncertain future requires much more than being ‘job ready or ‘tech savvy’. Schools must create environments, and teach in ways, that impart capacities to young people that encourage them to develop and enact new ideas and creative responses to problems. Charlie Brown might be stunned to learn that at a small school in Middle Cove called Glenaeon, we are absolutely preparing to be overthrown by the students we teach, and the future looks very bright indeed.

With thanks to Charles M. Schulz.

 

Dani Finch
Deputy Head of School (K-6) 

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The Development of Capacity

The Development of Capacity

06 May 2021

Term 2 provides a time for rich, concentrated learning when, supported by wintery days, we feel an increased sense of inwardness and a strengthening of our capacity for engagement with ideas, analytical questioning and reflection. At school we make use of the season’s supportive influences and use the winter terms in particular to deepen and extend the students’ academic capabilities. Embedding knowledge and honing skills are emphasised as Year 9 and 10 students prepare for their mid-year examinations, practising memorisation techniques and working to crystallise their understanding into coherent responses under timed conditions, and main lessons such as Mathematics in Nature in Year 7 and The Chemistry of Salts in Year 10 bring the elements of ‘wonder’, then ‘judgement’, then ‘understanding’ seamlessly into harmony as students observe, question and arrive at concepts through a natural learning progression. At the Year 11 and 12 level, a period of solid work is entered into where a significant amount of new content is brought and where the need to determinedly further their abilities through rigorous practise is understood.

In all of the endeavours mentioned, focus is on bringing ‘willing into thinking’ but the opposite is also required and nowhere is bringing ‘thinking into willing’ more essential at this time than in the HSC year. While students juggle the competing demands of diverse course requirements that entail the amassing and understanding a large body of information and the expert demonstration of their knowledge, significant developments must also be made on all projects. Throughout Term 2, practical components of Design and Technology, English Extension 2, History Extension, Music 1, 2 and Extension, Science Extension, Society and Culture and Visual Arts become fully realised and refined, ready for early Term 3 HSC Showcases and NESA submissions; we greatly look forward to seeing the fruits of their labours!

The go-between or oil that enables our application of ‘will’ to result in our capacity for ‘sustained, directed thought’ and the employment of our ‘thinking’ to produce ‘meaningfully guided action’ is, however, the strength and quality of our ‘feeling’ … and, in particular, feeling relationships with what we encounter that inspire and embody wonder, interest, intrigue, aesthetic sensitivity, determination or meaning.

At Glenaeon, teachers are acutely aware that one of their key tasks, therefore, is to present students with daily opportunities for the engagement of their emotions, sometimes subtly and sometimes profoundly. Depictions of beauty, narratives enhanced through dramatic detail, inspirational accounts of lives well led, the fineness of a mathematical formula accurately applied, the lightbulb awakening of a scientific discovery or the exquisite depiction of a personal revelation in a piece of eloquent prose or poetry are all examples of how our feeling life can be activated. When these encounters are brought to the students, their emotions are awakened in ways that allow immersion in learning that links human experience with content matter. Lessons become relevant and material that has the potential to remain detached becomes meaningful. An inspired interest in a topic provides impetus for sustained grappling with complex elements, namely ‘willing in thinking’, and a sense for beauty (or morality) enables actions to be moderated by thoughtful considerations, in other words, ‘thinking in willing’. And it is during these cooler months, when we are less likely to be drawn into the expansiveness of the natural environment, that we are perfectly placed to work on these three aspects of our being. The meaningful interplay between thinking, feeling and willing therefore becomes a focus so as to provide students with learning opportunities that foster inner growth and academic development.

Elizabeth Nevieve
Deputy Head of School (Years 7-12)

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Orange is the new green: Glenaeon's bush regen work on show

Orange is the new green: Glenaeon's bush regen work on show

06 May 2021

Last week we welcomed the Hon. Trevor Evans MP, Member for Brisbane & Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management and Mr Trent Zimmerman MP, Member for North Sydney & Chair of Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport to Glenaeon.

They were here to see the progress we have made so far in the Communities Environment Program - Scotts Creek Valley Regeneration Project for which Glenaeon received a federal government grant last year.

Our thanks to Year 7 & 8 students Catina, Michaela, Finley, Ava, Hayden, Felix, Ria, Archie, Henry, Mia B, Mia W and Sam for taking part.  Our students got into the bush regeneration work suits and showed our visitors the type of work they have been doing, pulling noxious weeds, clearing rubbish from upstream.

It was a wonderful opportunity to highlight our eco work, our bush regen education program and the visit gave these students the chance to tell our government representatives how much they care about the environment, the bird life, local wildlife and other environmental issues important to them. They also communicated the work of the Student Eco Council. Our students had a lot of fun and also learned how we can interact and communicate with elected officials. Special thanks to Lindsay Sherrott, Sandra Frain and to bush regen specialist Richard Blacklock.

#northsydney #middlecove #glenaeon #steinerschool #steinereducation #eco #environment #scottscreek #bushregeneration #cleanup

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Welcome back to Term 2

Welcome back to Term 2

22 Apr 2021

Welcome back to everyone and best wishes for a great start to our new Term!

The good news is that COVID restrictions have eased for schools and we are getting close to a return to what we all remember as “normal” school, pre-pandemic.  

  • Parent/carers can drop off on campus (no sign in required) however it’s assumed that this is for a short period of time. Castlecrag has particular requirements which will be communicated directly to parents of Kindergarten to Class 2.
  • If you are picking up your child early before the end of day, you must sign out at Reception. We need to maintain accurate records of attendance and we appreciate your assistance in this matter.
  • Visitors should maintain 1.5m physical distance from other adults (including staff) where practicable and other visitors when on the school site and at school pick-up and drop-off times where practicable
    • At all times where there are people gathering, personal hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and record keeping requirements apply
    • Visitors must comply with sign-in arrangements
    • Visitors must be excluded if unwell, even with the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms

Glenaeon has an overarching COVID-19 Safety Plan in place for the school and the standard precautions remain:

Hygiene and Illness procedures – remain the same as always

  • Stay at home when unwell and get tested.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  • Maintain respiratory hygiene.

Life will probably never return to the normal we knew, but with COVID plans in place, and accurate record keeping, we look forward to maintaining a semblance of the happy community life we all enjoy. These new guidelines enable us to confirm and continue planning our key community activities involving parents: the MidWinter Ball Event and the Family Fair in November. Our school festivals can now go ahead, as can in-person meetings. We will maintain some convenient aspects of remote learning such as some Zoom interviews in High School, but overall we can look forward to a resumption of face to face and in person meetings. Hallelujah! Our human community resumes!

Wellbeing Education:

This week Year 9 and 10 will be with a range of presenters undertaking a whole day workshop on respectful relationships. The program LoveBites comes with a very strong reputation in preparing adolescents to navigate the issues of managing relationships and consent. As many schools have found, our existing programs in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) are strong, but not strong enough. The LoveBites program provides a deeper dive for students, in a safe and secure setting, to really understand the significance of appropriate and inappropriate behaviours, and how to ensure our relationships are healthy and respectful.

In Term 1 there were sessions with DAYSS (Drug and Alcohol Youth Support Services), a well-respected program for both high school students and parents on managing alcohol and substance issues. We also continue to share with parents the workshops and education sessions offered by Headspace, a national youth mental health service. Our Wellbeing program has had a strong start in 2021 and there will be further initiatives and parent education through the year.

The Bird Panel:

During the break our Maintenance team caught up with many small jobs that can get overlooked during a busy term. One special job they undertook was to install the Bird panel: a beautiful rendering of our bush landscape featuring ten different species of birds that inhabit our Middle Cove campus. The project had its genesis when I visited the Newcastle Waldorf School in January and saw some panels they had painted that depicted bird species which had their habitats decimated during the 2019-20 bushfires. I asked Art Teacher Donna Miller and our local ornithologist and Science teacher Dr Stanley Tang whether we could do the same. They were both enthusiastic and we arranged a session of the Teachers Seminar PD days in January to be devoted to painting a panel depicting some of the 100 or so species of birds that inhabit or visit our campus.

The session proved very successful. About a dozen teachers spent hours painting the panels at the seminar, and then later during Term 1 completed a sophisticated rendering of our bushland and some of its bird species. The panels turned out to be enormous, and when put together, measured 4.8 by 2.1 metres. They now adorn a wall of the Alice Crowther Building next to the café.

Stanley Tang spoke at our first assembly for the term on Wednesday, describing the ten species on the panel, and something of their colours and habits. He gave the High school students a challenge to see how many of the ten species they could recognise, as many are tucked away in the painting of the bushland habitat. How gratifying it was to come up immediately after the assembly and see a gathering of five students intently searching the panel to see all the birds. It’s a great piece of work that both adds a beautiful aesthetic to our building, as well as celebrating our bush and birdlife. Congratulations to our creative teachers, and come and enjoy next time you are on campus!

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We do Hard Things

We do Hard Things

25 Mar 2021

If you're reading this piece in the Glenaeon newsletter, chances are that we first met when I interviewed you and your children as part of the school's enrolment process. I enjoy those interviews deeply, getting to know each student and family as I run through the prescribed questions covering academic strengths and challenges, hobbies and interests, musical experience, sport and health information. Each interview, I ask parents to tell me what has drawn them to Glenaeon and a Steiner education. Alongside a variety of responses about creativity, academics, co-education, and Outdoor Education, a large majority of you have responded something along the lines of; "We are seeking a warm, nurturing environment where our child will be known and cared for". And yes, spot-on, that's us! But, and it's a big but, we do hard things at Glenaeon. 

Being nurtured, cared for and deeply known does not equate to being comfortable, at ease or always happy! From Little Kindergarten to Year 12 and beyond, Glenaeon kids do hard things that sometimes make them sad, angry, unsure, or afraid: 

  • In Kindy, it might be saying goodbye to mum and dad even though you want one more hug. 
  • In Class 3, it could be practising your reading, writing and times tables every day even when you don't feel like it, or standing up for what's right in the playground.
  • In Class 6, it might be reciting a lengthy poem in front of an audience or controlling your temper when things don't go your way.
  • In Year 7, it's joining us from another school and learning to draw, paint, and play an instrument alongside classmates who have been doing those things for years.
  • In Year 8, it might be reciting a Shakespeare soliloquy or abseiling down a cliff face.
  • In Year 9, it's volunteering your time to help with something that might not be cool or pretty or fun.
  • In Year 10, it's getting up on stage with a microphone and singing and dancing like you're on Broadway.
  • In Year 12, it's sitting under a tarp in the bush out near Coonabarabran for 48 hours with only your thoughts (and your pre-developed singing, dancing, and artistic skills) to keep you company.

Being nurtured and deeply known is not about wrapping our kids in cotton wool or placing them in an environment where they are always content. Quite the opposite, it's about creating opportunities where they get to do hard things and fail at them in a school community where we make it safe and possible to get up and try again.  

Our students are musicians, artists, orators, performers, hikers, essayists, philosophers, and friends. These skills and attributes don't come easily to any human. Yes, our students are known and nurtured. And yes, they do hard things.  

Dani Finch
Deputy Head of School (K-6) & Registrar

"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."

Theodore Roosevelt

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Class of 2019 Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School in top 100 with a perfect score

Class of 2019 Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School in top 100 with a perfect score

19 Dec 2019

Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School warmly congratulates the Class of 2019 on their excellent performance in the Higher School Certificate (HSC).

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AEON Issue 12 Magazine out now

AEON Issue 12 Magazine out now

03 Dec 2019

Issue 12 AEON Magazine out now!

 

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Spring Festival - music, flowers and festive cheer

Spring Festival - music, flowers and festive cheer

27 Sep 2019

There were plenty of blossoms, crowns and and music for the Spring Festival day. Parents, staff and students enjoyed the warm and relaxing day and the oval was filled with family and friends. Thank you all for coming and for those who helped to create and coordinate the festival.

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Year 7 Surprise African Drumming Workshop

Year 7 Surprise African Drumming Workshop

06 Sep 2019

Year 7 were treated to a surprise workshop with African drummers this week as part of their 'The Wonder of the Word' Main Lesson. The musicians were brothers Thiass and Djogo from Senegal and their sounds rang out over the Middle Cove campus, including a welcome song in numerous languages (all that Year 7 could say "hello" in!) accompanied by over 30 drums! Year 7 Guardians Jamie Loftus and Elena Rowan joined in with Music teacher Sallyanne Barker. 

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Year 10 PE Extension class - the Sydney Bay Run Event

Year 10 PE Extension class - the Sydney Bay Run Event

09 Aug 2019

The Year 10 PE extension class had their Term 3 Assessment Task on the weekend completing the Bay Run in the Inner west in Leichhardt. 

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Year 8 : Students of Shakespearean theatre and costumes

Year 8 : Students of Shakespearean theatre and costumes

02 Aug 2019

Class 8 will perform a Shakespearean play later this term, and are not only busily rehearsing, but also sewing their own costumes in Handcraft classes!

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Year 11 Biology Reef Excursion with Stanley Tang

Year 11 Biology Reef Excursion with Stanley Tang

14 Jun 2019

Science teacher Stanley Tang took his Year 11 Biology students to Long Reef

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