How Good is Food?

Dinner with the Principal: Ronan Hullock (Year 12), Toby Perrin (Year 9), Mark Fearby (Year 9) and Harry Whibley (Year 12) enjoyed making One Pot Chicken with Mr Thompson on Wednesday night.

That seems like rather a silly question because food is an essential part of our being. However, the joy that can be experienced around eating, preparing and cooking food is sometimes forgotten in a world where we move too quickly from one thing to another. Food, or rather the experience of eating with people has time stamped many aspects of my life and indeed other people’s. I remember watching and talking to my grandmother and grandfather as they would prepare dinner on the nights I would sleep over with them as a young child. I remember the conversations about their youth and what it was like growing up around the time of the depression, what life was like in general at that time and the experiences that made them who they were. So, in reality my dinners with my grandparents became lessons about life and indeed ‘real’ history. Only now do I recognise the importance of these conversations and the role that eating together played in my development and learning.

I also remember taking my girlfriend (now my wife) out to dinner on many different occasions. These experiences of eating together was a large part of the development of our relationship, of getting to know each other, and learning who we really were as individuals and as a couple.

I now remember the times when my family and I have worked together in the preparation of meals. The effect this has on the flow of conversation, the breaking down of time and distance when we have been away from each other and the stories that are articulated by my children in this setting. I know that whilst we are cooking and eating, I am hearing the reality of their lives, they are telling me how and who they really are. I also know they are learning more about their dad, and hopefully, how to cook some different dishes as well. I know I now miss the regularity of these interactions but I also recognise the importance and joy I derive from them. So, perhaps, I am more conscious of the benefits of when we come together in this manner.

In a SCOTS context, I have had lunch with many of our students since starting. I have had the most wonderful conversations over a chicken burger (or salad). This is where I have been able to get to know more about our incredible students, about their lives, where they come from and what they think of their school. Again, the experience of eating with people has enhanced my understanding of who our young people are. You learn things when you eat with people! Especially really young people!!! The other observation I have made whilst doing this is the way in which our students are extremely comfortable with each other. This, I believe, is greatly enhanced by sitting down together each day and eating together. I watch our girls and boys interact in a manner that is comfortable, open and appropriate. The social skills of our kids are exceptional and are further developed by this experience.

Over the last month I have had the pleasure of hosting some of our boarding students. From Gundy, to Isa, Moree, Tenterfield, The Cape, Millmerran and a variety of other places. This experience has allowed me to learn more about who our kids really are and their diverse, yet inclusive nature. The conversations over dinner have been incredible and a great reflection on our families, but especially our young men and women. I hope too that these interactions at lunch and dinner have helped students understand a little of who I am, of what I stand for and for where together, we want to take the school.

So, how good is food? Clearly food is great – just look at my waistline but it is so much more than just eating. I hope all of our families find the time to eat and chat these holidays, and most importantly when you listen to your amazing children you hear super stories about their term at school.

Mr Kyle Thompson – Principal