From the Principal: 3 June 2024

From the Principal: 3 June 2024

Are our children growing up too quickly?

As a School catering for the unique needs of three to eighteen year old Grammarians, MGGS is an expert in designing and curating learning for all ages. We work hard to ensure that our Grammarians are not introduced too early to the adult world; we value and protect their naivete and innocence. Our policies and procedures across the School reflect this and, combined with our serious approach to child safety and duty of care, form a protective framework for our students. There is plenty of time to grow up and I believe that slowing down this trajectory is important. That is not to say we ‘cottonwool’ our Grammarians nor that our graduates are not ready to take on everything the world has to offer them as they leave our ‘red brick walls’, but that we are careful in our teaching and the design and pace of their journey. Throughout their adolescence they will naturally mature beyond play, and with our support, discover their strengths, develop a passion for learning and build resilience from the challenges they face. Our Grammarians in particular, take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to them and participate widely, and in doing so, maximise their learning and growth. They become ethical women of action through the experiences they have undertaken and been exposed to on their individual pathway. 

As adults, we understand we live in VUCA times – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The current geopolitical turmoil of the world, climate change, loss of species and rapidity of change are all daunting signs of living in a VUCA world. Within these VUCA times we are all constantly bombarded with an overload of information and at times exposed to overwhelming data, images and knowledge that once seen cannot be unseen, once heard cannot be unheard. Indeed, sometimes as Principal, and as a mother and grandparent, I wonder if as a society we are evolving or devolving? Are we moving forward or backward? 

The most recent ABC Four Corners episode title ‘Kidfluencers’ is alarming to say the least in how some young people are engaging in behaviour well beyond their years. This can be thought of as adultification of our youth. Adultification is originally a psychological term describing children who act more mature than their peers as a result of being handed adult responsibilities from a young age. Author Emily Kaplan provides valuable insight into this phenomenon in her article ‘What’s Lost When We Rush Kids Through Childhood’. Kaplan encourages us to ‘step back and see the world from a child’s point of view.’
Kaplan states ‘Play is the defining feature of mammalian development: the impulse is hardwired into us and can’t be suppressed. However, it’s crucial that we recognise that while the play impulse is one thing, the play know-how—the nuts and bolts of playing—is not always so natural and requires careful cultivation.’ You can read her article by accessing this link

At MGGS we know that quality education is about relationships. Caring teachers who understand child development and who know and are attuned to the Grammarians in their care, are important. That is why we have a purposefully curated curriculum from early learning through to VCE, with each developmental stage recognised and tailored class sizes, physical environments, and specific learning. So, too, parents are encouraged to curate their daughters co-curricular and social time at an age-appropriate level and ensure there is plenty of time for imagination and play. Age-appropriate play is determined by looking at a child’s chronological age and determining what types of toys and activities a child should be using and participating in to match their peers’ interests and abilities. Play requires time, and for us to not fill every waking of the hour of the child’s day with being busy. Children’s developing brains are not designed to cope with adult schedules and pacing. If we fail to see the world from a child’s perspective, then we are at risk of treating them as mini adults or adultification. We do so at the risk of a well-balanced childhood. 

On a completely different note, it was great to witness our senior Grammarians engaged in serious drama play! The hottest tickets in Melbourne last week were to the MGGS Senior Years Production of the stage play, ‘PUFFS’. ‘PUFFS’, or ‘Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic’ is a 2015 original play by New York–based playwright Matt Cox. The play is a parody of the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, but from the perspective of the Puffs, who were inspired by the Hogwarts house, Hufflepuff. It’s a play about growing up, going to another school, trying to make friends and not being very popular. The production was high energy, humorous and joyous. It was executed with polish and high technique. Thank you to our wonderfully talented Grammarians! Thank you to our MGS brothers who were also in full swing! Thank you to our wonderfully talented staff led by Director, Cherie Hozynka. Bravo!

Last week we celebrated National Reconciliation Week and reflected on the roles we each play to contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The dates for this week remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively. National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and accomplishments. The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2024, ‘Now More Than Ever’, encourages all Australians that no matter what, the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will continue. It is a call to continue the reconciliation journey and not to disengage and disconnect. Our whole School Assembly was a fabulous example of the importance of the voice of young people in this conversation. Our Morris Hall students Emily Jane Maria and Nitara Samarakoon provided a beautiful acknowledgement of Country, and Gigi Deckert, Harper – Lee Wong, Zoe Walker and Lea Nguyen read the Dreamtime Story of ‘Tiddalick the Frog’, our Year 10 student Abigail Haynes reflected on their Culture College Immersion trip to East Arnhem Land and our guest speaker Professor Elizabeth Tudor spoke of her work as vet in supporting indigenous communities and reminded us of the need for all to keep learning in this space to support reconciliation.

As we approach the end of term, a timely reminder for us all to slow down a little and ‘stop and smell the roses’. Our children are young only once, and this time is precious and does not need to be hurried. Let’s re-examine how we are supporting them to play and be creative at the appropriate age and stage of their development. Plan some together time, play as a family, and enjoy the upcoming long weekend!

Yours in learning,

Dr Toni E Meath