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Principal's Blog

Found in: Leadership Blog


One morning recently, a mum came to me perturbed that a group of boys in upper primary school had adapted an innocuous computer game to one where they were hiding treasure and running around cyber-space, overpowering each other and taking the loot………. or something to that effect. As school was just about to start, I thought there’s no time like the present to deal with this.

I went to the area outside the classroom and gathered up all those gawking at iPads    before class and took them into a classroom. I spoke about the game and the students knew I wasn’t happy. I then asked who had been playing it……………. A number of hands went up. That was impressive. When I asked who was the mastermind that had engineered the game and started it all, a lone hand went up (possibly another budding Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg). I immediately let this young man and the others know how impressed I was by their honesty. By this time most of the class and some teachers had filtered in.

This is profoundly valuable. It can be very easy for cultures of conspiracy and silence to develop in schools, or in fact outright deception and refusal to admit liability when there are consequences. Even though we were working through something that was wrong, I was proud of our students at that moment.

What followed was a teaching moment:

“But it’s only a game, Sir!”

“Since when has harming each other in cyber-space or real life, been amusing? As well, it’s not a good look for you to be hunched around technology at the beginning of the day, either. Where do we go from here?”

“We could delete the game!”  “You could ban us from playing!”

“Why don’t you students decide on what is best to do?” To cut a longer story short, there was a pretty much unanimous decision made by the students to have screen free mornings.

This doesn’t mean there will never be a problem again in this realm, or that they may need a reminder or tune up on that commitment in the future. It was a good teaching moment, in a good school amongst students I appreciate and admire.

Later that week those same students led, by their own initiative, a day of buddying up with younger classes and taking them on a walk around the college and through the bush as their celebration of walk to school day.