Dear PLC Sydney Community

Connections_Paul Burgis_horizontalWelcome to Term 4. It is lovely to feel the warmth of the sun and to see the gardens blooming with flowers.

At PLC Sydney we often reflect upon the metaphor of the garden when thinking about learning. In my role as principal I see families trying to work through what might be regarded as the cross-pressures of different models of education. A garden metaphor can help us understand them.

One vision of the garden is of something we need to watch and care for with great diligence. Every plant must be pruned in a precise manner, suiting its species. There are times of the year for planting, and different plants that can and can’t be planted together. This view of the garden equates to the view of education that values precision, excellence, diligence, exactitude, quality and results. It is the type of learning that launched the space program at NASA. In the space program if something isn’t double and triple-checked people will die. Therefore the emphasis on personal rigour in learning is essential.

A second vision of the garden is as a free-growing meadow: a place for plants to grow as they please, to find their own place in a diverse and surprising shrubbery. This vision of the garden equates to a view of education that values freedom and choice, personal expression and creativity, a relaxed and joyful demeanour, where learning is fun and not restrictive.

At PLC Sydney we seek to achieve both. We place ourselves in the cross-pressures between these two views.

We are seeking both joy and discipline; a love for learning and a desire for excellence; music played with precision and passion.

The program at PLC Sydney is set up to allow girls to find areas that they love, yet also to expect them to work steadily in all areas.

We are using the image of ‘the learning pit’ with them to help them to understand that all learning includes some things that are challenging. I have included the diagram below in an earlier edition of Connections.


Sometimes we make a mistake in how we think about learning. We think that if we have a ‘clever’ child she will be able to leap from one side of the pit to the other easily. It is true that some students are quick to grasp things. A significant part of learning, however, is the discipline to be consistent in seeking to learn: ‘stickability’. Some ‘very bright’ students don’t learn how to find their way through the learning pit. One of our jobs is to recognise that the best learning is about problem solving.

We really welcome conversations with you about how you are addressing the cross-pressures of raising a learner. I welcome you to join the P & F where I will be making it a theme of my reports.

Enjoy the term ahead.

Dr Paul Burgis