Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Last week I read a long and in-depth article about the highly successful Finnish education system. The article highlighted the reasons that the Finnish system was so successful, and these reasons made it sound very like the New Zealand Curriculum minus National Standards, and contrasted it with theabysmal failure of the American Education system which is one of the sources that National Standards were taken from.

The Finnish system is successful because it caters for the whole individual person, often in smaller schools. Respect within and between the sections of the system are vital and genuinely knowing the pupils and developing lessons that cater for them mean, that school and learning are enjoyable and we all do better with something that we like.

It worries me that a New Zealand Minister has made a scathing attach on Finland simply because they were being compared in a positive light to us by the leader of the opposition. As is often the case the comments were made in Parliament and are respected by parliamentary Privilege. But the fact remains that Finland has an education system that has a lot to admire and aspire to.

I have been to Finland and found it a country much like New Zealand, similar population, a focus on sport as a means of success, a unique culture and a very proud Nation so surely we would benefit basing the direction of our education system on a country that is very similar to ours and one whose education system is a success, rather than on countries exponentially larger whose systems are failing.

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

What a busy week last week was, as we showed the Education Review Office what a great school we have. The ERO Team’s feedback was very positive and highlighted the excellent learning environment that our pupils enjoy, the great results that our pupils achieve and the strong positive relationships that permeate our school. You will receive more information on this report when the BOT get it’s final written document.

Over the next two weeks our pupils will be going on two outings. This week the Year One to Six pupils will be attending the Catholic Schools Fun Sports Day in Dunedin, this takes place of the old St Patrick’s Day sports. Next week the senior class will have their annual rafting day on the Taieri finishing at Outram Glen.

A lot of debate has gone in recently to decide what is a worthwhile education?

Is it purely academic, as measured against National Standards? Most people acknowledge that being able to read, write and perform mathematical tasks up to a certain level are vital in the modern world to achieve in life, but to go further we feel our pupils deserve more opportunities to express themselves as individuals: be it in the Arts, the field of sports or in the spiritual aspects of life.

As a Catholic school we are in a unique position to be able to discuss with our pupils these greater ideas and to stimulate rather than to settle for mediocrity.

As Felix Adlers said “An optimist is a person who sees only the lights in the picture, where as a pessimist sees only the shadows”. An idealist however, is one who sees the light and the shadows, but in addition see something else, the possibility of changing the picture, of making the light prevail over the shadows.

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

I was at the rugby on Saturday night with my father and we were remembering, as we walked to the ground, how he taught me the times tables.

Dad was very old school, and he believed in learning the tables by rote. So for a couple of years many of my evenings were spent going two ones are two, six sevens are forty two, and so on.

The sticking point for me was the seven times but through perseverance I developed at least a mastery. My sister who is younger never needed to learn by rote she was one of these people capable of picturing the groups in her mind and giving you the right answer.

My youngest sister drew the objects to be multiplied—coloured in circles or squares and this worked for her.

All of us mastered our tables but we got there in different ways. The key was perseverance—to achieve anything you have to perservere but also support at home is vital.

I probably never told Dad how much he had helped but I think that he knows deep inside, in fact I think I’ll tell him this


Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The sky is grey, the nights seem to be getting longer, the Highlanders are playing (and winning) so it must be Autumn.One of the best parts of my job is talking to parents who are coming to look at our school as a prospective school for their child.

The questions that I am asked are almost always about how we can cater for their child overall or their holistic needs. They ask about our school Catholic Special Character and Christian values—especially the Whanau system. They ask about the opportunities we offer in the arts, sports and outdoor education and they check how well resourced we are in all areas but especially in technology.

Parents ask about all aspects of our school’s curriculum but ultimately what we as parents want is for our children to be happy and content citizens, for some people like Bear Grylls a constant extreme challenge is needed but most of us rather enjoy a mix of achievable challenges and time when we can relax.

We are all different with different needs and aspirations. At St Mary’s we keep the individual needs of our pupils foremost in our minds when we develop our school curriculum.

Next week we will welcome into our school Suzanne Lewis and Christina Gold from the Education Review Office.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan.