From the Headmaster

From the Headmaster

By Admin on 13 September 2017

Today’s (13 September) Sydney Morning Herald online includes an article entitled “Why I won’t punish my daughter”. It goes on to outline that feeling “bad” about yourself is not good for you. The author did not claim to be a psychologist or an educational expert. They were speaking from personal experience and acting in response to that.

Yet as I read further and further into the article the more concerned I became about the central premise of the article: “We need to never tell our children they have done something wrong; we should only talk about the good things they do and we should never punish.”


This focus solely on the good concerns me greatly. One of the four key values of the Macquarie Model is the concept of Character.

An author once defined Character as "who you are when no one is looking". Another might define Character as "who you are when the times are tough". Character is, at its core, a definition of who we are as people.

One of the most significant findings from our surveys of our key stakeholders when we developed the Macquarie Model, was the belief that students need to develop resilience: the right to fail and get back up again. They need to make a mistake, deal with consequences themselves and then move on. They need to have the opportunity to face difficult times and come out the other side a stronger person. Research about what makes eminent people eminent often finds one core attribute: they have all faced times of real and significant difficulty.

Macquarie is striving to build character in our young people and one key part of a good character is resilience. Our response to young people is simple: each young person will make mistakes, they will do something wrong and chances are they will get caught. We will work with them to help them realise the choices they have made and we will then put the appropriate consequences in place. This is different from punishment, in the respect that sometimes punishment can be capricious in nature, whereas actions have both positive and negative consequences.

As a parent the difficulty comes when you hear that your child is in trouble and you are unsure of what to do. Sometimes we want to step in and protect them in the first instance and we want to believe everything they tell us as the truth and the only truth. This teaches our young people the wrong thing. I have been working with young people for over 20 years and children lie, particularly when they think they can protect themselves from a consequence. Not all children do so all the time but my experience tells me there is no clear pattern as to when this occurs. As parents, with our children we need to work through the choices that they have made and the consequences that have come from their actions. They might find it tough and may even think it is unfair, but home and school are safe places to learn that the choices that you make will lead to consequences, both good and bad.

Resilience is just one part of character. Persistence, generosity and humility are also significant parts of character development and at Macquarie we work with our students to develop these through a range of programs including Kids Matters, Mind Matters and Outdoor Education programs.

We do all of this because we believe that each and every Macquarie student can become a World Changer!

Craig Mansour

Category: From the Headmaster