The latent potency of light and warmth

Term 3 has to be one of my favourites; not least because it comes with the promise of spring, the advent of longer, warmer days and crystal-clear blue skies. Like the green tinsel that adorns the Australian bush after any fire, it’s a beautiful reminder of the regenerative nature of life, and witnessing its arrival is a salient lesson in patience and hope. The start of a new semester at Carey also brings with it all sorts of possibilities – new electives for our Year 10s, the commencement of APS Spring Athletics and of course, the less visible but no less powerful energy that lies within each of our Year 12s as they contemplate their final semester at school.

And with a mere 11 weeks of formal schooling to go, it is my hope that they come to comprehend the vast potential that lies within, for as nature demonstrates with seasonal certainty, it is never too late, too cold or too dark to push through into the sun. For some, this means confronting their biggest fear – that gnawing sense in the deep recesses of their being that they’re not smart enough, worthy enough or good enough and so working/trying/struggling is pointless. For others it means combating the feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and worry that threaten to overwhelm them. Sound familiar?

The fact is, adolescents are an inherently vulnerable group at the best of times due to the challenges of their specific psychosocial development as well as the structural and functional changes occurring in the brain – add the pressure of Year 12, and it is little wonder some struggle to remain afloat. They need us now more than ever – to drown out the voices of self-doubt that threaten to overwhelm them, to believe in them when they’re incapable of believing in themselves, to see them clearly and wholly when all they can see is that final score, and to love them when they feel they’re at their least loveable:

  • Give them authentic words of encouragement every, single day – you never know when they’ll need to draw on your perspective of them.
  • Remember to point out the things they do right – not just their mistakes. To this end, choose your battles – generously and knowingly.
  • Be equally generous with your affection and your time. Be present.
  • Avoid at all costs criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame. They are intimately familiar with both.
  • Help them to focus on their strengths by identifying all of their talents and abilities – not just the ones related to school and to an ATAR.
  • Be prepared to broaden your own definition of success.
  • Allow them to make mistakes but be the first to greet them afterwards with outstretched arms.
  • Remind them over and again that the sky won’t fall in and that this too, shall pass…

The latent potency of light and warmth should not be underestimated – there’s no question that its effects are life changing and in this, we must all play a part.

Natalie Charles
Head of Senior School