The Australian cricketers’ scandal has been front page news for a week now and today I read about the sanctions imposed on three players involved. Their worlds have suddenly changed in a way that none of them ever imagined when they were discussing and planning to tamper with the ball.
I don’t think there is a person in the world who hasn’t thought ‘what were they thinking?’. How did they ever imagine that it wouldn’t be picked up by one of the many TV cameras around the field? How did they not realise that someone would see them? Even as Steve Smith was fronting the media the day the story broke, he didn’t seem to really get why everyone was up in arms about it. He said that he shouldn’t have done it but his integrity was intact and he was going to continue as captain.
I have no inside knowledge of what went down, but as an observer it seems to be like this: There was a group of three players. A leader, a follower and a master planner. The master planner came up with the idea and sold it to the other two. The leader saw it as a means of gaining an end result of glory for the team. The follower carried out the act. The first two people in the firing line were the leader and the follower. The master planner was initially kept out of it and didn’t put his hand up until forced to.
That question ‘what were they thinking?’ has validity. Nathan Mikaere-Wallis is a New Zealand expert on brain development in children and adolescents. His answer to what were they thinking is, they weren’t.
I recently heard Nathan speak and he talked about the development of the frontal cortex, the thinking part of the brain. It used to be that neuroscientists believed that the frontal cortex for some men was not fully developed until 25. Now, they believe that age to be closer to 32. Whilst the frontal cortex is in the developing phase, the decisions these young men make, come from the amygdala, and are known as a gut reaction. They aren’t actually always capable of thinking clearly. If you look at the relative ages of the cricketers, the leader is 28, the follower is 25 and the master planner is 31. I’m no expert, but this is compelling.
This scenario of master planner, leader and follower plays out every week at VAS. Obviously our boys’ frontal cortex is still in the developing phase, so many decisions they make are gut reactions. I see it so often. They hatch a plan, convince others to participate, carry out the plan, it all turns to custard and they are left genuinely upset by the consequences. They so often say about the end result; oh I didn’t think that would happen. We have this scenario with girls as well, but more around social issues than physical events. With boys though, these scenarios are usually something physical, not emotional or social.
In primary school, when the stakes aren’t that high, we use these scenarios as learning for the boys involved. We want them to start to think about consequences for their actions so that when they get to 25 or 28 they have learned to say, hold on a minute. This is where our restorative approach is useful. We ask them to empathise with the victim, or think about the scenario, and try to look at it from a different perspective. Hopefully, each time this happens, a new bit of learning sinks in!
The harder thing to deal with in these scenarios is the relationships between the master planner, leader and follower. Yes, even at primary school we have children who hatch plans but get others to do it so that they are not the ones getting caught, or are not in the firing line. Often, the person who appears to be the main protagonist actually isn’t. They have been thoughtless enough to get involved, but they have often been set up or manipulated by the master planner. That’s where we need to become super sleuths and dig through what is apparent at face value to find the reality. We spend considerable time investigating, but it is worth it if it means that the right children are held accountable and undergo the restorative approach.
As I always say, everything that happens at school is all part of a child’s learning – the good and the bad.
Family Fun Night
What a fantastic turn out for our family fun night last week. The weather was perfect, it was superbly organised and run. Families enjoyed themselves sitting chatting, children had lots of turns on the waterslide, there was yummy food – all a recipe for success. Huge thanks to Olivia Hemus, Craig Hill along with many helpers, for making the event so successful.
Parent Teacher Interviews 11, 12 April
Don’t forget to book an interview with your child’s teacher. Please send back the forms prior to the interview so the teacher can be prepared.
REMEMBER – if you pay your school donation by 31 March you are eligible to claim it as a donation in your 2018 tax return.
Take advantage of this opportunity and either pay by eftpos, cash or cheque at the school office, by internet banking or go to http://www.victoriaave.com/school-shop. All receipts will be emailed home at the beginning of April (if paid by 31 March).
School Crossing – Victoria Avenue School
Please be aware the school crossing is patrolled daily from 8.15 am by one of our teachers, and with children on patrol between 8.30 – 8.45am.