A highlight of my week was a visit to Bush Kinder with our youngest Blinkbonnie girls! Each Thursday during Term 4, the girls have headed out to an area of bushy parkland on the Maribyrnong River, where they have been able to explore an environment full of plants and animals which provoke all sorts of adventures! Through facilitated play, the girls have the opportunity to become more curious about the world and themselves and then to expand their knowledge and understanding as they explore the answers to the many questions and wonderings that they have developed. The girls showed me the different types of wattle that had burst into flower signalling the start of spring, they proudly explained the planting they had done with the support of the local council, they pointed out the striking blue wrens that inhabit the area and they confidently demonstrated the way that they could navigate fallen logs and low hanging branches. It was joyous to be part of the experience and prompted me to reflect on the ways in which we can foster a disposition of curiosity: through exposure to unfamiliar experiences or places and through the deliberate practice of asking questions. I have recently shared both these strategies with various groups of students across the School and suggested to them that in order to be a curious person we need to be quite intentional in the ways we approach the world. I have encouraged girls to put in the effort to follow up their interests, to learn more through talking or reading and to be people who discipline themselves to expose themselves to new experiences and information.
With Father’s Day coming up on the weekend, I have also reflected that my own dad was a person who was instrumental in fostering my own curiosity, particularly in relation to the natural world. It was with dad that, as a very small child, I would walk to the park in the evenings to watch flocks of birds come into the trees to roost for the night. As we watched, Dad would prompt me to wonder where the birds had been, how they would know where to come back to and how their days might be different from my own. He would engineer holidays peppered with bush walks during which my step sister and I were prompted to marvel at tiny violets on the side of the path, listen to the different calls of parrots and wrens, identify varieties of droppings and understand how the torturous hills and exhilarating descents we traversed translated into contour lines on topographical maps. As an adult, I now appreciate the habits of curiosity and learning that were embedded through these experiences and now I enjoy sharing new ideas and knowledge with Dad as we spend time together or chat on the phone.
I am sure that our girls will also have dads or significant males in their lives who are assisting them to develop qualities and dispositions that will last them a lifetime. It is so important that young women are exposed to different ways of thinking, being and experiencing and often the men or boys that they spend time with can provide these in a manner that helps girls to have a greater understanding of the world and themselves. Whether it is because of their different interests, different expectations or different perspectives dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers and male friends breathe a refreshing life into “girl world” which can be incredibly valuable. I hope that for all families, Father’s Day on Sunday provides you an opportunity to celebrate the men in your life. Of course, for some, the day will be challenging as they navigate the loss of loved ones, the complexities of family life or the breakdown of relationships. For those families, I hope that there is support and comfort from those in your networks who can help to keep you strong. To all of the significant males in the life of the Lowther Hall girls who have shared our Father’s Day celebrations this week, thank you for stepping into that space and for all dads and dad figures who support us each day – you make our world a richer and more interesting place! Have a wonderful day on Sunday.
Ms Elisabeth Rhodes