28 June 2021
Underpinned by relationships of trust, it is the work of our teachers to create learning environments that reveal the rich diversity of our student body, and to use this to build unity.
Each year Harmony Day enables us to discover something new about our students, highlighting their insatiable quest for meaning and their emerging desire to understand themselves.
Harmony Day is about inclusivity, respect and belonging for all, regardless of cultural or linguistic backgrounds. We choose to mark this occasion in the Junior School by inviting students to explore their connection with a country of their choice and come to School dressed in a national costume. We are aware that the request to wear a ‘national costume’ can be interpreted differently by families and we encourage creativity and individuality on this occasion. In our increasingly global society we are conscious that one child may identify with being ‘an Australian’ quite differently to another. Providing opportunities to discuss this, reveal perspectives, and respectfully wrestle with different thoughts and experiences energises connections.
The Year 5 teachers took the opportunity on Harmony Day to explore the linguistic systems that exist within the names of students in their classes. Some questions included: How does understanding someone’s name help us to understand their identity? Why do we abbreviate names so often in Australia? How does knowing how to say someone’s name correctly invite a sense of inclusion? What other language systems can we discover when we pay attention to the pronunciation and letter combinations of a name? What sounds exist in some languages but not in English?
Insightful discoveries were made when students dug deeply into the story of their names. Some stories were shared and others were questioned. A number of children felt that their names defined them, while others noted that their family names were changed over time due to migration, marriage laws, adoption, translations and family traditions.
Exploring names, rituals and costumes is a joy. Paying attention, imagining, listening and respecting is what enables us to become better, together. These are the cornerstones of international-mindedness.
Assistant Head of Junior School (Teaching & Learning)