Nina's Noetics

Nina's Noetics has been established as a think space…an opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas that relate to everyday life. Your responses are very welcome.

You are a masterpiece…


During this past week, I spent some time with a couple of young ladies (around 10 years of age) who disclosed their concerns about their own bodies. This sad thing for me, was that they were worrying about their body shapes at such a young age. These young ladies were both crying as they talked about how they were unhappy with their bodies. We had a chat about being proud of who we are and that our bodies will be what they will.

The greater concern here is where they get their information on what their bodies should look like. Who (or what) is informing their sense of identity at such a young age of what is the ‘right’ way to look? The wider media puts images of what they perceive as perfect everywhere. And it is our responsibility to teach our kids (boys and girls) to be media smart.

We all like to look nice and feel good about ourselves. And most of us like being complimented when we have made a special effort to ‘look good’. But what we sometimes forget is to let others (including our kids) know that it is what is on the inside that is most beautiful. We can’t change our genetic make up on our physical appearance. What we can do it show others we are kind and thoughtful, and that we appreciate when others are kind and thoughtful to us.

We are all unique and wonderful. Wouldn’t be great if we could instill that positive message in our young people as strongly as the media does its negative work on body image? I’m reminded of the “Love Your Body” campaign slogan of 2011, “You are a masterpiece”.



Big Five Parenting Skills


At the end of last year, I came across a man called Michael Grose. He is a leading parenting ‘expert’ who writes a great deal on parenting ideas & ways to develop happy and positive children. He constantly puts out newsletters and magazines on various parenting issues. One of his articles, “The Big Five Parenting Skills” discusses his ‘big 5’ parenting tips. By no means do they include everything a parent needs to know, but I thought it was a good reminder for us as a community of parents & teachers involved with young people to consider them. Michael’s first tip is to encourage children to be brave. A lot has been said about the difference between praise & encouragement. Praise looks at the end result of an activity, whereas encouragement has a focus on the process the child has used to get to where they are. Encouragement assists in building confidence & self-esteem & thereby helps children take responsible risks. Tip two is to teach children to behave well. This step includes teaching good manners & suggests that parents model positive social patterns at home. This tip means children learn rights as well as responsibilities & the consequences of good & bad behaviour. Tip three is to hook into children’s learning. As parents, Michael suggests that we are active in our children’s learning by encouraging them to learn well. Tip four is to speak so children will listen. Choosing the time & place to allow our children to open up is important. And finally, tip five is to teach children coping skills. Resilience is an essential aspect to develop. Michael suggests humour is a great way to help children develop resilience. Talking through an issue is vital & allows children to help verbalise what is going on for them, & also helps them to feel heard. Some thoughts to ponder. For more information check out the parent noticeboard (on the exit into the main building closest to the staff room), or online at

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Welcome back to another year


Welcome back to another year.

As I look ahead, I can’t help but think that the year is full of promise. The promise of what is yet to be determined, and that is sometimes exciting.

Each of us has a role to play in making our school community a place where our children feel safe and valued. Staff do this in the way they embrace the needs of each student in their classroom. And over the next few weeks they will be discovering ways to challenge and teach the students within their care this year.

But families, too, can make a difference in the school community by being active in their encouragement of the small and large steps forward their child makes in their learning. Recognising children’s efforts is sometimes more important than the end result. Sometimes, we all need to fail in order to succeed eventually.

I look forward to sharing the school journey with you this year, as we work together to create a positive learning environment for our students.

I will be in the school each Monday and Tuesday between 9am and 3pm, as well as assembly Wednesdays. Please feel free to pop in or make a time to catch up.



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6/7 Plays


Over the past few weeks I have been working with the Year 6s and 7s on their plays.  Whilst these are not on until Week 10, there is a lot of work that goes into making it to the performance. The students have worked solidly on their parts to learn their lines, get their costumes and props together, and learn where they need to be on the stage at any given time. A great night’s entertainment is in store.

But rehearsing for these plays is not just about learning about performing. Whilst learning about stage performance, voice projection, characterisation and so on, they also develop confidence and pride. Above all of these, they learn respect for others and teamwork. These skills are life skills they will be able to take with them when they leave our community. It’s a fun (and challenging) way to learn these skills, and they are doing a great job.

Each of us has a part to play in our own circle of family and friends. To have fun is essential, but to have fun and engage in respect for each other, as well as develop our full potential, is a gift indeed.



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The spirit of the ANZAC lives on.

I remember as I was growing up the talk about the ANZACs and how not many people were attending the memorial services anymore. This was always spoken about with a sense of sadness.

I also recall sitting in my Australian History classes where the teacher was so skilled she’d walk in and draw a map of Europe on the board freehand as part of the revision of our previous lesson discussing Gallipoli or the war on the Western Front! (Boy, was she good!).

War is never good and mostly there are lots of losers. I prefer to discuss things and find a peaceful solution to issues. I know, however, that this is not always possible at an international level. I am not so naïve as to think that sometimes war has perhaps been necessary (although I wouldn’t want to be making that call!). So men and women serve their country in this way, striving for a higher cause and there is no doubt that Australia would not be the nation it is today had brave men and women not sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

So imagine how proud I felt when my young man, just turned 11, decided to carry the flag in the ANZAC parade through town this week. He is too young to realize all the significance of this, but he knew he was doing something special. My grandfather was in the Air Force during WWII but never left Australia. He has long gone now, but was posthumously given an award a couple of years ago for his services during the war. Recently, we lost a family friend who was a Vietnam Veteran, whose stories I found both daunting and fascinating, and it was in his memory that my boy marched as he held up the banner for the British Imperial Services.

The great courage and enormous sacrifice that so many made, and continue to make, is not forgotten. It can be seen in the thousands who make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli and the Western Front each year, young and old, as well as those who attend memorial services all over our great nation. Perhaps one day, we will also travel to Afghanistan to remember those still serving…

They shall never grow old, age shall not weary them…

Lest we forget.


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Beginnings and endings are so closely connected. It is not that long ago that we farewelled the Year 7 students as they went on to their secondary school. And so begins this new year, for some us at a new school, and for most of us in a new class with new faces, and some of us just new to going to school!

There is so much to look forward to in 2012. The opportunities that lie ahead are endless if we choose to rise to the challenge.

Each day brings a new beginning, so I trust that as we travel together as a school community this year, we may allow each other room to learn, grow and change, and the space to continue to reach our potential.

May 2012 be a bright new beginning to all you can be.



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40 Hour Famine



That’s what I think of the Hawthorndene Primary School community.

A few weeks ago, we did our 40 Hour Famine Day. Classes went without speaking, furniture, technology, limbs and electricity. In the process, we raised just over $4000!!! In a time where the financial climate is unstable, I thought we’d struggle to get to our $3000 target. Instead, we bettered our total from last year. Whilst this year’s focus was on East Timor, I got an email as we were beginning our famine day to say that due to the massive famine crisis in East Africa, monies would also be going that direction too.

I am so excited to think that our school has raised enough money to feed over 8 families of 5 people (40 people) per month for the next year! And not only will we feed families, we will assist in their education and understanding of sustainable farming, so they can help to look after themselves in the years ahead.

On behalf of those whom we will never meet, but whose lives we are helping to change, thank you. Your generosity is overwhelming and encouraging.



Media Distortions


I’ve been working with a class and their teacher as we have journeyed through the many deceptions and scams that various avenues of media offer us to better our lives. The students have been amazed at the various tricks that media outlets use to try and convince us of the things we need. We are constantly bombarded with images of thin women or muscular men who are stereotypes of femininity and masculinity, as well as the latest technologies that would make our lives better, if only we possessed them.We’ve discussed the pressure that some people feel to conform to these images, and ways to get around these pressures.

It is no wonder that many of us feel less than perfect when we see picture perfect models whose air-brushed photo distorts the reality of what it means to just be, well, me! It is wonderful to see young people engaging in conversation about these false perceptions of reality and finding their own examples within the wider media. They are forming a language that allows them to discuss what is happening and why stereotypes are often good examples of distorted reality.

I wonder how many of us continue to have conversations about reaching our potential, and not someone else’s idea of potential.

It’s got me thinking this week!



The race doesn’t always go to the strongest or fastest. 

The one who wins is often the one who thinks “I can”.

(Seasons for Growth program)

You know the story of the little engine that could? There’s the little coal truck who needs to get up the big hill to get his load of coal to the village on the other side of the hill. A few of the big engine’s ignore him and choose not to help him, but a little engine comes along to help. But the load is heavy and he has to work really hard at getting the coal truck over the hill. But he doesn’t give up and says to himself, “I think I can! I think I can!”. His self belief makes all the difference and he gets the coal truck up and over the hill so the villagers can keep warm over the Winter.

A young person I know is struggling at school. He is a very kind and generous young man, but he struggles to complete his work well and feels like the other students see him differently because of this. There are times when he feels that he is not succeeding at his work and he feels left out by his friends. I have been working to encourage him not to give up on trying his best, and that even though it might take him longer, he will get there in the end.

Perseverance can be a difficult thing sometimes. We can feel like we are not getting anywhere and it is frustrating and disheartening at times. The secret of persevering is self belief. It is the “I can” and if we can keep reminding ourselves of the fact that we can do well at something, then eventually, with the help and support of others, we can achieve and feel good about ourselves. There is no denying that it can be difficult, but it is worth sticking at!



This year’s “Come Out” festival theme is “Belonging”.

I don’t know about you, but I think it is really important to feel like you belong to something. We can belong to a whole range of groups: families, friendship groups, sporting groups, community groups and so on.

Some of the groups I belong to are my family, my church, my music group, and my school community. Each of these groups I belong to makes me feel connected to other people. I am not just an individual but someone who relates to other people with similar interests, in some cases, or people who share similar values to me. These groups help give my life meaning as I learn from others in the group and they learn from me. Belonging to a group helps me learn to share and respect those who are different to me. It  helps me find ways to resolve issues of conflict when they arise.

Of course, one of the best benefits of ‘belonging’ is that I am reminded that I am not alone. I might feel it sometimes, but really there is a group of people to whom I belong who value me just as I am. And that is a good feeling.

What groups do you belong to and why do you like belonging to them? I’d love to know…


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