Dear Kingsmead Community,
As I sit in my office today (Monday 25 May) it is Africa Day and I am reminded of Thabo Mbeki’s speech at the time of the adoption of the Constitution – “I am an African.” Please read the extract below. To mark this day, President, Cyril Ramaphosa said this morning: “The solutions to Africa’s problems reside within Africa itself.” I believe that as a continent, we are going to have to find the way forward after the devastation of the Coronavirus. We need to stand firmly together as a nation and as a Kingsmead community to move forward together .
The campus is quiet, but the buildings and the grounds look beautiful as always. I was checked on my way in to the school by a most professional security guard who asked me a set of questions and took my temperature. This is going to be our new normal as we reopen the school.
I would like to thank the operations team who have worked tirelessly these past weeks to clean the campus and to ensure that we create a safe space for our staff and students. I am also so grateful to the teachers who have worked incredibly hard during this time. If anything – distance learning has shown how much our students need their teachers. I do believe that parents have also had a glimpse into the lives of teachers and I am hoping that there is a renewed regard for the profession. We also need to remember that many of our teachers are balancing working from home; looking after their own families and creating new lesson content for their students.
Teachers have different teaching styles and this is evident now with the way they are engaging with their students. I have seen the most creative online lessons and have witnessed teachers going more than the extra mile to engage their students in lessons. There have been hat days; dress-ups; extra messages or check-ins that have taken the pastoral care of the school to a new level. The staff miss the girls immensely. They know that this is not teaching as they signed up for it. They are doing all that they can to ensure that the girls are seen, cared for and loved.
“Any educator can share knowledge with students but it requires the passion and courage to change the attitudes and mindsets of the students.” Prof M S Rao – Vision 2030 One million global leaders.
“I would just like to express my gratitude for all the frontline teams, doctors, nurses, teachers, policemen, workers etc, these people were always the heroes but now they are making a difference and their hardwork is finally noticed by the whole world, now we all say they are the new nation’s heroes. Thank you so much for all that you do every day to keep us safe and healthy. Your work is truly incredible and does not go unnoticed. Be sage and stay strong.” Shatabdi Wasnik
I wish you all well and am looking forward to welcoming our parents and students back on to the campus next week.
Head: Kingsmead College
Extract from “I am an African”:
All this I know and know to be true because I am an African!
Because of that, I am also able to state this fundamental truth that I am born of a people who are heroes and heroines.
I am born of a people who would not tolerate oppression.
I am of a nation that would not allow that fear of death, of torture, of imprisonment, of exile or persecution should result in the perpetuation of injustice.
The great masses who are our mother and father will not permit that the behaviour of the few results in the description of our country and people as barbaric.
Patient because history is on their side, these masses do not despair because today the weather is bad. Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines.
Whatever the circumstances they have lived through and because of that experience, they are determined to define for themselves who they are and who they should be.
We are assembled here today to mark their victory in acquiring and exercising their right to formulate their own definition of what it means to be African.
The Constitution whose adoption we celebrate constitutes an unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that our African-ness shall be defined by our race, our colour, our gender or our historical origins.
It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, Black and White.
It gives concrete expression to the sentiment we share as Africans, and will defend to the death, that the people shall govern.
It recognises the fact that the dignity of the individual is both an objective which society must pursue, and is a goal which cannot be separated from the material well-being of that individual.
TEENS IN LOCKDOWN
The New York Times released a great talk hosted by Tara Parker-Pope and Dr Lisa Damour on 21 April, which shared some poignant insights into understanding our students who are moving into the phase of early adolescence, during lockdown.
To access the full episode click here: https://timesevents.nytimes.com/teensinlockdown
In sum, Damour reminds us of the key characteristcs of adolescents:
- They seek autonomy and independence
- They hate being told what to do!
- They need their privacy
- They experience fluctuations of emotions
- Damour believes that all adolescents have two sides, one that “hangs out on the couch, is kind of immature and impulsive” and the other that is “thoughtful, mature, philosophical and wise and is invested in their own growth and development.
At the moment, so much of this has been challenged with the situation of lockdown. Added to that, she explains that the comforting and playful aspects of school are hard to replicate online – the thing that keep our students “caught up in the current” and gives momentum and energy to their motivation in getting school done. In sum she says, at the moment, school is all the vegetables with no dessert!
So what do we do about that? Well, she speaks about two main concepts repeatedly in this episode, motivation and empathy.
In order to motivate our students, we need to understand that many students thrive on working under pressure. When a student knows they have to get something done in one hour, it will get done. Our current latitude of having looser, “it can be done tomorrow” deadlines, creates a lack of motivation for adolescents. This is something to caution against as Damour reminds us that if we throw out expectations, we throw out a critical source of self-esteem.
We need to motivate our students to feel active and purposeful and that means not only in terms of providing a challenging curriculum with clear learning intentions and expectations, but also at home. Students need to feel helpful by contributing to the chores at home, not only for the greater good, but also because research indicates that this is a protective process in the face of chronic stress.
Therefore, she stresses that keeping some form of routine (she refers to an aspirational routine here – since many of us have not yet reached a routine we are satisfied with), as routines minimize the energy needed to make decisions throughout the day. Here, she gives a great tip to parents on how to know if your child is spending too much time on a device, something we are all questioning. Damour suggests that it is okay to provide more time on devices, provided that it is not at the expense of sleep, socialization and studying, or any aspect of family life that you hold dear in terms of your values.
Many adolescents may have sleep routines that are out of sync at the moment and she advises parents that slight adjustments are acceptable, provided that, once again, it is not at the expense of sharing family time, helping around the house and being an active participant in the family.
Further to this, Damour suggests that adolescents may also be seeking more alone time and advises that parents allow their children some “off the clock” time, where they can just “be”, which they would have in a normal school day.
Empathy is another concept Damour refers to frequently. We need to have empathy for the losses and disappointments that our girls have experienced. This is their first major setback and it is, kind to acknowledge that this is not normal and that none of us have experienced something like this before. She suggests that we assist our girls by reaching out to the “kid on the couch” and recruit the more mature side of their personality by empathizing with them and recognizing the deep sense of loss they may be feeling rather than throwing solutions at them. It is also important however, to remind adolescents that they will come through this and they are part of a cohort who will get to the other side together. This sense of belonging, sharing and bonding is something that in my own professional life, I have experienced as the greatest source of strength and resilience for young adolescents. When there is a shared experience, adolescents tend to lift each other quite naturally.
Teenagers struggle to name their emotions and so as a parent, you may find that they will externalize and make you feel what they are feeling. For example, saying “I am bored” and rejecting every creative, magnificent idea you have to solve the dilemma! In this time, you might feel helpless. Damour suggests we recognize that feeling and reflect it back to your daughter, “I am feeling pretty helpless right now in trying to find a solution, I am wondering if you are too?”. It is important for us to feel our feelings as parents too and have our own, appropriate sounding boards as adults.
Importantly, Damour suggests that this is a key time for psychology. It is an opportunity for all of us to recognize that emotional wellbeing is not feeling happy all of the time. It is experiencing the right feeling at the right time. It is important for us to help our girls to be able to name their emotions and recognize them as data that is part of a tracking system. Emotions are not fires that need to be put out, we do not need to fear them, however we need to be able to role model to our children in this time. She also reminds us that as human beings we are enormously resilient and we should concentrate on healthy psychological defense mechanisms (some of you may recognize seeking humour or facts during this time as soothing), to help us to cope.
We also need to acknowledge that right now, we cannot always be the parent that we want to be. We may respond in ways that we do not consider ideal or appropriate. In these times, it is still important to role model for our children. In these moments, we can acknowledge the parts we stand by, but also recognize and express what we didn’t like about how we acted and apologise. This is a teachable moment and an opportunity to show our children how to cope in a positive way.
In sum, we can continue to look after our blossoming adolescents in this time of pandemic by recognizing what it means to be a teenager, empathizing with them on how difficult and disappointing this time is and continuing to motivate them with sound levels of motivation and expectation.
If you feel that you need support during this time, please contact our Psychologist, Lucia Harding, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Marisa Di Terlizzi
Deputy Head Senior Primary
The CEO of Bass Air and Author of ‘Pilot in the Wild’, John Bassi, has nominated Taskeen Wadee for The South African Literacy Award 2020 in the category ‘First-time Published Author’ for her book, “The Horn of Africa”! John Bassi is a Rhino Conservation expert and is very passionate about Rhino poaching. He and Taskeen hosted a session on the children’s programme at the Kingsmead Book Fair in 2018.
Congratulations to Taskeen on this incredible accolade.
Director of Marketing
ARTS & MUSIC DEPARTMENT
Since schools shut down in March, the Arts & Music Department has explored various ways in which we can continue to involve our students in the Arts. We researched what our colleagues all over the world are doing and brainstormed with our Kingsmead team what would work best for us. We are so excited about the enthusiastic participation in our online programme.
Individual music lessons have successfully continued online using WhatsApp video calls, Facetime, Zoom and Skype. The Ensembles, Choirs and Orchestras have weekly Zoom ‘rehearsals’ which have been GREAT fun. All our groups are hard at work recording tracks for virtual videos which we hope to share with our community. If you haven’t seen our videos yet, click here to watch: KMC Jazz Band Virtual Reality and The Glee sings For Good
Subscribe to our Kingsmead Arts & Music YouTube Channel to follow our events!
Our Music Concerts will happen online this term. Join us for a ‘live’ concert or watch it afterwards on YouTube. Record your piece/song – you can do as many takes as you want, make sure to get a good view of yourself (and your instrument) and send the video to your teacher. Watch the App for details. Each week a concert will premiere on the Kingsmead Arts & Music YouTube channel.
Lockdown has allowed debating to look a little different over the last while. The Debating WhatsApp group became a place to learn and discuss new topics and YouTube videos and articles on relevant social issues and innovative solutions were shared to stimulate discussion. The topics have included the harms of fast food, the rise of automation, the dangers of misinformation, and the morality of marketing to children, to name a few. This term the discussions moved to Zoom where the students argue their opinions and use disagreement to understand possible solutions to issues in society. From the 29th to the 31st of May, the Senior Debating team will be participating in ‘DEB-ON-LOCK’ – ‘Debate Online Lockdown’ where the debaters will have the opportunity to compete with people from other schools using Microsoft Teams. We wish our debaters all the best for this exciting event.
The Public Speaking Club is also having weekly meetings on Zoom and invites anyone who is interested to join them. The Grade 12 Arts leaders have been coming up with regular ‘challenges’ encouraging the senior school students to continue pursuing their interests in Art, Drama and Photography which include Zoom meetings for discussions and exploring themes to photograph and express in Art.
The Arts Team recreates famous works of Art:
Thank you to our community for your continued support of the Kingsmead Arts & Music Department. We hope to see you back at school soon.
All the best from the Arts & Music Department.
Director of Arts & Music
As the second term began Grade 8 students and their families and friends found themselves still very much in the middle of lockdown. However, this did not stop them from finding a bit of fun in their learning.
Our Future World combines Natural Science, Geography and Enrichment to tackle the opportunities and challenges in our future. This module centres on developing Research Skills and a clear understanding of the ideas of sustainability which are articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In order to develop their understanding of the 17 SDGs the 2020 Grade 8s roped in family and friends on online platforms or around dining room or coffee tables to play a board game. The aim of this game is to investigate what challenges the future poses and how people are trying to solve them by 2030. By the looks of things, much fun was had and as teachers we’re sure some learning too.
Our Future World Module Leader
Service remains a core value at Kingsmead College and it is imperative to remember that during these difficult times we can still ‘give without expecting reward’ from the confines of our homes. Despite not being able to physically visit our community engagement partners we continue to encourage the students to participate in service at home.
During this time where we are doing so many things in a new and different way and as our world turns virtual, so does volunteering. Virtual volunteering offers us the opportunity to continue our social impact while remaining indoors and safe.
The Service@Home programme shares various ways that you can serve during the lockdown and the Kingsmead students have been actively participating. A few highlights include:
- More than 50 Mother’s Day cards and letters were submitted, created with love and care from the Kingsmead students to grannies at Park Care.
- 85 sets of multiplication flash cards have been created to be donated to the Grade 7 class at Isipho Primary School.
- Beautiful recordings of children’s books have been submitted to Read for Hope. Listen to Keren Spyker’s reading of My Eerste Boek van Alles!
As winter approaches, we invite the entire Kingsmead community to keep on knitting (or to get started) and support our blanket drive to make the winter slightly warmer for Hotel Hope. Squares are sewn into blankets and all blankets and knitted toys will be donated to Hotel Hope. You can also be creative and transform your knitted square into a bunny. Find a tutorial here
DIGNITY DREAMS COVID-19 MASKS
Kingsmead College would like to thank Dignity Dreams for their generous donation of 200 Covid-19 face masks. These masks will be gifted to Isipho Primary School in Soweto.
Dignity Dreams provides reusable and washable sanitary wear and gives unemployed women the opportunity to run their own business by training them to sew its products. During the pandemic, Dignity Dreams also provides face masks.
You can support Dignity Dreams by purchasing a Covid-19 face mask from them at R35 per mask, or R100 for three masks. Masks are available in turquoise, black or multi-coloured in sizes children, medium and large. Email email@example.com to place an order.
Director of Service