From the Principal
Over the last 3 weeks we have had a number of events, the Visual Arts Exhibition, Strings and Band Showcases, which have demonstrated the wonderful work of our Creative Arts staff and students. On our Secondary Open Day, visitors to the College also got to see first-hand the great work of our dancers, dramatists, artists and musicians.
The Creative Arts form a vital part of the holistic education offered at the College and are also one of the ways in which we are supporting and facilitating a place where creativity, inside and outside of the arts, is felt.
The importance of creativity is increasingly being recognised in educational theory and discussion, with great thinkers and futurists such as Sir Ken Robinson advocating for schools to take it more seriously.
Being creative is fun, and my hope for our students is that they find ways to draw happiness from creativity throughout their lives. This week, in order to think about this further, I asked the Secondary staff about their creative pursuits, and was delighted to hear the wide range of activities that they are engaged in in their spare time, ranging from performing in ensembles, choirs and bands to quilting and needlework, from furniture making to directing and acting in plays, from writing course textbooks to performing in dance routines at Disneyland, and from catering for dinner parties to making jewelry. Their skills and interests are diverse, and are an excellent illustration of the ways they use creativity to create wellbeing throughout our lives.
The research is clear that being creative is something that human beings benefit from in a variety of ways. Of course there are the social pleasures to be drawn from some of these activities, and also the sense of achievement and progress felt. But there are well documented scientific benefits to being creative. For example, a review published in 2014 entitled ‘Can Musical Training Influence Brain Connectivity’ suggests that individuals with musical training — such as those who learned how to play an instrument — have improved connectivity between the two hemispheres of their brains and which can result in increased memory, better focus on tasks and improved hand to eye coordination, which can also create a decrease in anxiety, anger, depression and addiction tendencies.
Another creative pursuit that improves overall brain function is drama. A study in 2004, entitled ‘A Short Term Intervention to Enhance Cognitive and Affective Functioning’ found that older individuals who were encouraged to participate in theatre performances had improved psychological well-being after 4 weeks and also exhibited better cognitive functioning. In particular, the participants experienced improved problem-solving abilities.
The health and cognitive benefits of being creative go on, and are too numerous to list here. But briefly: there is ample evidence to suggest that expressive and creative writing have been linked with long-term benefits for mental health, particularly for individuals who might be learning to cope with traumatic experiences; singing is known to help performers breathe deeply, to correct posture and has shown a significant reduction in stress hormones and an increase in proteins, like Cytokine, which help the body fight illness; and a study entitled The Influence of Art Making on Anxiety: A Pilot Study also revealed that creating art could “significantly reduce a person’s state of anxiety” and has led to the use of art therapy to help students deal with stress.
These aforementioned health benefits for creativity are of great interest to me. As an educator, I have long suspected that music and arts programs make better students but now, with neuroimaging and increased understanding of the ways that the brain works, science can finally back this up.
These benefits – to learning, for positive social interaction, and to health – are good enough reasons to get involved in creativity at TSAC. But what struck me so vividly as I watched our two recent showcases and toured the Visual Art Exhibition, was the sheer joy and pride in their work that the students were experiencing as they performed and took well-earned applause.
It turns out that creativity and the Creative Arts are not only rewarding and fun, but also good for us. It makes it difficult to mount a case why we wouldn’t get involved.
I would like to thank all of our Creative Arts students, for their hard work in the recent Exhibition and Showcases, and for the excellent experiences they are providing our students.
Secondary Open Day
I would like to take this opportunity to comment on our Secondary Open Day, which we hosted last Saturday, September 1. We were delighted to welcome a record high number of 88 touring families to the campus, who had the opportunity to involve themselves in a wealth of activities which were on display, meet our staff, see the beautiful grounds, and, most importantly, spend time with our student guides who were once again wonderful ambassadors for the College.
I was so proud to be part of this community, and warmly thank all of those staff and students who assisted in showcasing the excellent education on offer at The Springfield Anglican College. In particular, I thank Mrs. Remy Bamford, Director of Communications, and her Communications team, who did such a wonderful job of organising the event.
Australian Teacher Aide Awareness Week
This week we have had an opportunity to celebrate our Teacher Aides and other teacher support staff, as part of this national initiative.
You will know well the great work that these wonderful colleagues and community members contribute to your child’s education. ‘Aiding’ the teachers is of course a vital part of what they do – assisting with the preparation of resources, setting up activities and pracs, supporting students with learning needs and so on. But they are also vital in the ways in which they assist in building relationships. Often, it is our teacher aides who spent significant time with individual students, providing them with the confidence and strategies they need to help them face challenges in their learning and growth. You will have heard me say many times, that students are at their most successful when they feel happy, connected and relaxed, and our teacher aides and support staff play crucial roles in ensuring that our children feel supported and at their best.
Our teacher aides are wonderful, and do an excellent job. It is my great pleasure this week to say an extra special thank you on behalf of us all to Kirstin Davie, Christine Janke, Amanda Bale, Laurel Ashell, Maitua Feterika, Gerry Oxborrow, Wayne Clark, Tracey Taylor, Toni Myers, Debbie Johnson, Kerrie Jacob, Judy jackson, Wendy Hall, Rachael Davidson, Michelle Carter and Yelena Boulanger.
Year 8 Homeless Immersion Night
You will have noted in a recent newsletter that, as part of our increased focus on Service, Year 8 students would be given the opportunity to experience first-hand what it feels like to be homeless by sleeping ‘rough’ on the Secondary Campus overnight. Accordingly, on a cold night in Week 7, the students, joined by Heads of Clan and other staff, were provided with a blanket and some cardboard and told to make themselves comfortable for the night.
In groups and with a staff member present, they bedded down and over the course of the next few hours were exposed to some of the experiences which homeless people would face daily – hunger, discomfort and cold, Council officials (senior students) confiscating their possessions if they were left unattended, the police showing up twice to tell them that they were on private property and to move along, groups of rowdy youths (Year 12 Prefects) making noise in the small hours, a visit from Rosie’s: Friends of the Street Food Van to dispense much needed warm soup and drinks, and from the Paramedic Barber, who spoke to the students about his services to the homeless and the importance of giving back to the community.
Unquestionably, the students felt some safe discomfort, and I am confident that they left the experience with a heightened understanding of the need to recognise their own privileged station in life, and with a commitment to giving more to those less fortunate than themselves.
I would like to thank Mr. Graham Swinton, Director of Student Activities, for his excellent work in organising this important event.