From the Principal: Lessons from Mark Twain

As we come to the end of another happy and productive term, we’re focusing in on words.

In 1871 Mark Twain penned a letter to a friend. “I apologise for such a long letter,” he wrote. “I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

In this age of too much information, brevity really is the soul of wit.

I recently met a Commander of the US Navy. His name is Carl. He told me that TLDR is the response to certain emails among US marines. It means “Too long didn’t read.”

I smiled as I contemplated responding to long emails in the way that Carl does. I guess in that workplace, succinctness can be a matter of life and death.

Crafting words and encouraging our students to use them carefully, skillfully and economically is something on which we are intensifying our focus in the classroom.

We want our students to leave school understanding that words really matter and that the right words, used in just the right order, can be a powerful and persuasive thing.

I had the pleasure of reading to Kindy classes over the last two weeks. These children are clever. They have razor-sharp minds. With Kindy Gold, Nicole Demovic had a very grown up conversation about adjectives. With knitted brows, they agreed that they’re struggling a little with them. As they pondered and offered their perspectives, I had no doubt at all that mastering adjectives was something that these very bright children were going to achieve this year.

I left Kindy with The Day the Crayons Quit under my arm and thought of Roald Dahl’s description of his little heroine Matilda Wormwood, nurtured by books and the words within them:

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.”

These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

Next term we will continue to urge our students to take pride in what they write. When our students write they should do so with a curiosity about words, a meticulous pride in writing and re-writing, and a determination to expand their vocabulary.

“Love the words. Love the words!” Dylan Thomas told his actors in 1953, just before the first performance of his lyrical
masterpiece, Under Milk Wood.

Please join us in encouraging your children to learn at least one new word each day and to enjoy reading over the holidays.
And on that note, I will stop, lest you decide TLDR!

I wish you well for a wonderful holiday and look forward to seeing everybody next term!

Ms Shauna Colnan