Education in JSS is about encouraging each student to discover and express their innate gifts. It is about believing that each child can come to contribute something unique and exceptional. It is about encouraging each child to discover their limitless potential.
We want every child to delight in the present every moment of every day. Hence the motto of the School: “Laetus Impraesens – Delight in the present”. Central to the practical application of the ethos of the school is character development through cultivating the life skills of Stillness, Attention, Enquiry and Unity.
Through developing the ability to have moments of Stillness and awareness, calmness and rest are experienced. It is these moments that give the energy which brings freshness and vitality into our lives.
Through developing the power of mindful Attention and participation in the present moment, we develop the strength to express loving attention to the person in front of us and the strength to face every situation with confidence and courage.
By the practice of Enquiry, particularly philosophical enquiry, we invite students to develop a love of learning and to enquire into a deeper understanding of themselves, the world around them and to develop ideals by which they can live their lives.
With the practice of Unity, we invite students to share and care for each other. With compassion we can come to recognise that amongst the diversity, that every human being shares teh same essence- full of vitality, pease and happiness.
The curriculum in John Scottus is based on giving learning experiences that encourage the child to become self-aware, develop the power of attention and cultivate an enquiring mind. To do this, children are given systematic exposure to a wide range of subjects in the Languages, Sciences, Arts and Sport. In addition to the conventional curriculum the schools teaches Philosophy, Classical Studies, Latin, Greek & Sanskrit and Art, Music & Drama.
Philosophy is studied to develop critical thinking skills and to appreciate how philosophical principles can bring clarity to the way we live our lives.
In John Scottus, philosophy is considered to be the process of applying reason to a question or enquiry. It is about enquiring into concepts such as truth, courage, justice and love. It is about getting a sense of ourselves as not limited by habitual ideas through breaking the bonds of narrow and fixed thinking. It is about asking questions such as “Who am I?”, “What is this world around me?”, “How do I have an honest, true and meaningful relationship with my family, my school and the wider community?” and “How am I to lead a full and satisfying life?”
The subject material for philosophy is supported by spiritual literature from both Eastern and Western traditions and is carried out through weekly classes, assemblies and weekly philosophical themes.
Weekly philosophy classes are provided to all children. In the youngest classes, the focus is on stories with good messages followed by discussion. As the children grow the questions become more fundamental such as “Who are we?”, “Where did we come from?” “What is the purpose of life?” “What is our relationship to the Universe?”
Mindfulness and the “Pause”
Just as physical rest is essential so too is mental and emotional rest. At the beginning and end of every lesson and activity children and teachers come to a complete stop, for a moment. The idea is that when body falls still, so too does the mind and heart. The “pause” composes and nourishes the mind, creating internal space that allows whatever comes next to be more fully experienced.
Meditation is a key feature of John Scottus School, starting at 5th class in the primary school. It is practised for a short time at the start and in the middle of each day. Meditation offers peace and simple happiness by developing awareness, attention and strengthening the power of concentration. While meditation is voluntary the great majority of pupils choose to take it up.
Assembly takes place at the beginning of the day and is an opportunity for ‘many to become One’. We all arrive at school in various states, depending on who we are and how our morning has been to date. We could be tired, alert, concerned about the future, concerned about our friends and so on.
The beauty of assembly is that it provides a unifying moment. It gives the opportunity for every individual in the building to start from the same place and the same sound. In essence, many become one and all draw from the same point of nourishment.
Assembly invovles prayers from different traditions, philosophical readings, singing and addresses from the Principal, members of staff and other children.
Sanskrit is a beautiful classical language from ancient India with a huge literature and history behind it. Studying Sanskrit has three main benefits:
- It develops the power of attention and refines the mind, just as the study of mathematics trains the mind to think in a mathematical way.
- It is possible to access an enormous body of philosophical literature.
- An understanding of its grammar and pronunciation provides a model for understanding modern day languages.