Another Brick in the Wall!

I always look forward to reading the newspapers from cover to cover over the weekend. The Weekend Australian provides opinions on many different issues. The prominent issue, usually an endless attack on the quality of schooling, has begun to irritate me. Other than the banks no other institution gets the attention of the media with such frequency and ferocity. If it is not about NAPLAN, it is about school fees, school uniform and most recently about school bullying. In this article it cites a study that if victims of bullies speak to their teacher or another adult, then the long-term result may be worse for the victim. Having a PhD doctorate and a lifetime of research experience, I know that the public will take research seriously. However, anyone can make claims about research and somehow bring opinion into the spotlight. Research needs to be valid and reliable using international research standards. It needs verification and to be captured in light of similar studies across the world and not viewed in isolation. Just like the Pink Floyd hit, it can otherwise just be seen as “Another brick in the wall”. One brick makes no difference but an entire wall can.

A few weeks ago, John Marsden, a writer, teacher and principal wrote about parents. Yes he wrote about you and me and provided an opinion comparing generations of parents and parenting. There is always a danger in making statements comparing one group with another and then making assumptions that one group is worse than the other. I reflect on our own circumstance in the Rijken household. I think my wife and I have worked very hard at being good parents to our three now adult children. Yes we made mistakes but we tried hard to make the family unit an important part of our lives.

As you may know, we are now three months into being grandparents and I had my first babysitting experience during the holidays. Looking after Hailey for a full morning on my own was hard work! She had been fed and was wide awake, not at all ready for a sleep. So I was walking around chatting to her as she was making noises. We chatted with the dogs, looked outside the window and heard the birds singing, all the while her eyes were searching and head turning. I was rocking side to side and then while changing her nappy, there was that distinct smell. Yes it all came back to me instinctively like riding a bike. Changing nappies, supporting her fragile neck and head, letting her hear my voice and smiling at her. Earlier, I had been given a 30 minute brief by my daughter on everything I needed to do! I pondered, did I not have experience? Didn’t I look after you well enough? As a parent I would always take a breath and think, far be it for me to interfere with their decision-making process. Yes I always give good advice, well that’s my lens on it, but they (the children) have to make the decision. They also need to deal with the outcome of that decision, whether it be positive or negative. Sometimes I want to protect them but they need to deal with it. I have come to learn that my role as a parent is to love them equally and unconditionally, support them, believe in them, encourage, trust and build a sense of hope and joy in life. As teachers we strive for the same, we want the very best for each child so that they may thrive, feel they belong and be at their best to learn. The lesson here is that the parents and school work together to support the student, to allow them to spread their wings and they will make mistakes, but we walk with them side by side.

As we start the new semester we have had some changes in staff leadership roles. As Mr Patrick Harmer officially takes on his role as Deputy Principal at Cardijn College, Ms Danielle Greig is now the Acting Assistant Principal Pastoral Care, Ms Debbie Williams, Acting Director of Students, Mr Sean Lang Acting Mitchell House Leader and Ms Nadia Porter Acting Year 8/9 Coordinator. We wish them well in their new roles this semester. We also welcome back Ms Sarah O’Neill and we are delighted to welcome Ms Kara Hargreaves on staff in the Marist Centre.

We wish our Year 12 Drama students all the very best for their performance nights on Wednesday to Friday and as they say in show business “Break a leg”.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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