Philosophy for Children: Introduction to 20th Century Music

By: Angie Mullins


During Grade 10, music students study the four main eras of music history: Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century.

The musical set works we study during the first three eras are relatively accessible, but the Twentieth Century set works are incredibly challenging on a conceptual basis. These set works range from pieces of absolute serialism to a piece consisting entirely of silence.

I have found, in the past, that the students find these works far more accessible if they have an understanding of the social climate at the time of composition.

This year I chose to incorporate the P4C methodology into this section of work. I assigned each of my five students one of the following topics:

  • Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity
  • Pablo Picasso and the Reinvention of Perspective
  • Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
  • Friedrich Nietzsche and Nihilism
  • 38 Million Corpses and World War I

Students were asked to comment on how these topics caused a sense of instability in the early 1900s.

Each student did a 10 to 15 minute presentation on their topic which served as the stimulus for a philosophical enquiry. The questions that were formulated and selected from these stimuli were:

  • Does time really exist?
  • How green is that tree?
  • If more people were crazy would sane people be institutionalized?
  • To what extent is religion constructed through culture and society?
  • How many lives are ‘too many’ to sacrifice for the greater good?

While this method has meant that I was not able to spend as much time analyzing the actual music as I have in previous years, I feel that my students have gained an in depth understanding of the climate of instability that was present at this time and are thus able to approach all of the music of this era with a greater sense of appreciation and discernment.


Celebrating Unity in Diversity

On 28 September 2016, Grade 4N celebrated Unity in Diversity.

(By Mrs Shaan Naidoo – Grade 4N Class Teacher)

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South Africa is a fruit salad. That is, we come from different cultural backgrounds, follow different religious practices, think differently, speak different languages, celebrate our rites of passage according to our ethnic or religious roots and have our own different dietary laws, dress codes and cultural taboos. Yet, we attend school together; conduct business with people from all walks of life and we celebrate our humanity together.

Sometimes, though, without knowing it, we may offend the very same people with whom we wish to cooperate or include in our business or social dealings because we are ignorant about their social or religious or other customs.

At our special class assembly, the Grade 4Ns made it their aim to inform their audience about the significance of different festivals like the Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Eid, Rosh Hashana, Diwali and Christmas. They also highlighted all the similarities in our festivals, clearly showing that although we are different in so many ways, we are also alike in so many ways. This is because we are all connected as a nation, and our infinite variety makes us truly unique.

I applaud my class on an outstanding performance! Well done, my STARS!



Multicoloured, Pop Art Monroe


By Caryn Morgan

Marilyn Monroe has grown to become one of the most popular culture icons in the last century.

Known mostly in her black and white photos, the Senior Art Club, in the third term, brought Monroe back to life in an extravaganza of shocking bright blue and multi-colours.

Aimed at capturing Monroe’s wild and passionate nature, the Art Club pursued techniques of the flamboyant Jackson Pollock, flinging on a variety of colours into the open spaces of Andy Warhol’s inspired Pop Art style of portrait.

In these two styles, the Senior Art Club successfully captured not only the essence of Monroe’s iconic image, but the passion of her personality too.

Learning From Exams

By Mike Caplan

Normally, I return History exams and go over them requiring students to do corrections and then hand their papers back in for a small term mark. This is to encourage reflection, self-diagnosis and the habit of students learning from their mistakes.

The problem is that students often just take down the correct answers without really understanding where they went wrong.

This year, our mid-year exams were held a little earlier than normal, and I had the opportunity to do something different to get students to consider their errors a bit more deeply.

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The Grade 5 Teaching Team Techs Things Up

By Meryl Arnesen

The Grade 5 teaching team is working hard to integrate technology into lessons.


In Social Sciences, we used the Sketchbook app when introducing the location of Egypt. The pupils first searched for a political map of Africa which had all the information they were required to use to complete their maps. They saved the image of the map and then opened it in the Sketchbook app. They had to add a layer over their map on which they traced their outline of Africa and filled in Egypt, Cairo, the neighbouring states and seas. Most used their fingers to trace but a stylus would make it neater.  They coloured the map and used the text to add their labels. Once completed, the first layer is deleted, the map is transformed and emailed to the teacher for assessment.


(Image by Micaela Steingo)

Sphero Robots and Character Arcs in AP English

(AP English Grade 11)


Our Grade 11 AP English students were entranced when they were given the opportunity to develop ‘character arcs’ for the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, using Sphero robots.

The task involved tracing the characters’ emotional development throughout the play by coding a Sphero robot. The various arcs are drawn by attaching a small 3D printed wagon to the robot, which drags a koki pen. At various points in the character’s development, students are tasked with choosing a word to denote the main emotions, thus creating an ‘emotions trail’ which becomes intertwined with other’s characters’ movements, as each arc is drawn on an enlarged character chart.

Students are given carte blanche as to how they want to illustrate their character’s journey, as long as they can explain their choices and demonstrate how the character’s moods are influenced by events in the play. The robots can spin, change colours, move quickly or slowly, stop to observe, and even interact with other robots, using various coded moves.

Students bring together their knowledge of the characters, the events that the characters experience, and the robots coded journeys. The stories of Blanche, Stanley, Stella and Mitch are drawn to illustrate the complex actions, reactions and interactions of this timeless story of love and abuse.


Redhill Robotics, STEM and Changing the World!


By Phil Joubert

One of the most exciting changes to happen at Redhill in both the Prep and High Schools in 2016 has been the introduction of Lego Robotics.

While most people think of Robots as something from science fiction, and Lego as a memory from childhood, Lego Robotics has made its mark on Redhill’s STEM program. In March 2016, the PTA of Redhill School invested in 12 sets of LEGO Mindstorm Robotics kits that were immediately put to use. Under the watchful eye of Mr Sean Hampton-Cole and Philip Joubert in the Future Focus Centre, over 65 excited Redhillians tried their hand at being young inventors, engineers, tinkerers, and coders with many choosing to take part in the World Robotics Olympiad.

12 teams were entered into the World Robotics Olympiad, an international competition in which 55 countries compete to solve a theme-based challenge by using robotics. This is the most by one school in the South African competition’s history.

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Bringing Down Walls of the Classroom in Natural Sciences

Dhevan Marimandi

Students today are connected to technology in education in ways that we could never imagine. The question, How do we as teachers take advantage of this interest in order to maximise learning?

On the 16 of September this year, the Grade Seven pupils from Redhill Preparatory School participated in a collaborative IT project with the students from Dainfern College. The pupils were put in mixed groups of four to five and had to have a discussion with their counterparts from Dainfern using a variety of communication tools which included FaceTime, Google Hangouts, I-message, Snap Chat and Skype.

The pupils from Redhill discussed ideas around non-renewable forms of energy and the students from Dainfern College discussed ideas around renewable forms of energy. Once each pupil had their opportunity to contribute to the discussion, a debate on which form of energy would be best suited for South Africa to use to generate electricity going forward was held.

This activity served as a culmination of the various collaborative activities that were completed between the two schools earlier in the using Google Classroom and Google Docs.

The pupils had lots of fun completing the task and really understood what the concept of bringing the walls of the classroom down meant.

All in a Day’s Work!

(Junior Primary Staff)

During the last week:
Grade 3M discussed the basic principles of aeronautics. They had to follow instructions to make an aeroplane that would fly.


Grade 3T conducted a philosophical enquiry into friendship.


Grade 3S were involved in a study of numbers using technology to
enhance their learning.

IMG_9156       IMG_9157

Grade 2H carried out their own research on owls and recorded their findings on a mind map.

IMG_9162     IMG_9161

Grade 2M had to construct bridges that would support weight. From class teacher Dale Mantel:

My class received an urgent letter from The Billy Goats Gruff stating that their bridge had collapsed.  Discussion on the necessity of assisting them then ensued.  The children were put into groups of 5 and were given an A3 piece of paper as well as various materials such as string, sucker sticks, sosatie sticks, tape. Prestik, pipe cleaners etc.  They first had to discuss and plan their model on paper and then work as a team in constructing a bridge that had to be suspended between two desks.  Having made their magnificent bridges we then brought the concept of mass into the lesson.


Wiki Notes (The Way of the Future?)


(Sean Hampton-Cole, Geography)

Sometimes you just have to give them the content. But why not make this a collaborative activity?

I set up a table in a Google Doc with the terms and concepts listed down one column and then gave my Grade 10 students editing rights. Their task was to add the content and to edit one another’s work. Part of the brief was to keep it concise.

To my surprise, much enthusiasm and productive chaos ensued. They really did seem to enjoy it. And then I got my second class to do the same thing with the same document. What they produced in the end was a high quality, four page summary of the entire section of work.

And now I’m thinking about expanding this idea…

  • What if I could add in space for more diagrams, enrichment videos and such. Wouldn’t it mean the end of textbooks as we know them?
  • What if I set up a partnership with the same grades in other schools, and made this a broader project?
  • What if I tried to find overlaps between this and other subjects, and inserted links to similar wikis for these subjects?
  • Maybe I could even include a section for students to create a series of low and high order questions.

Grade 5 Lung Machines

(By Wendy French, Taryn Harwin and Meryl Arnesen)


The Grade Fives have been learning about the respiratory system in Natural Sciences and were asked to make a model of a lung machine. They brought plastic bottles, straws, balloons and a rubber surgical glove. With the equipment and working collaboratively, the pupils designed and structured fantastic working models of lungs.  With their models, they could identify the parts of the respiratory system and how they function.

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Advantages of Using Google Forms for Long Marking

5 Advantages of Marking Longer Answers Using Google Forms and Sheets (By Michael Caplan, History & English)

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Marking longer answers in History

Many tech-savvy teachers may be aware of the super cool self-marking that Google Forms in combination with Flubaroo brings. However this works mainly with short answers, multiple choice matching columns, true and false etc. Nevertheless, Forms (in combination with Sheets) can also be used for longer answers. I had a go at this and after several uses have found some distinct advantages, some of which were quite surprising:

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Thinking Philosophically Across the School

By Kemble Elliott (Director of Creative and Critical Thinking)


With the recent introduction to P4C (Philosophy for Children) at Redhill, there has been a growing interest in exploring teaching and learning through the lens of philosophical thinking, as a way to deepen knowledge and understanding, and to consciously introduce metacognitive and self-reflexive practice.

P4C is a methodology that engages students in their learning experiences by teaching them to analyse and reflect on their own thinking, as well as that of others. Using a variety of critical thinking tools (such as creating a concept line to analyse a concept, or Venn diagrams to compare and contrast two aspects of the same idea) students are taken through a process of working in small groups, and individually, to develop their own thinking.  This culminates in a Community of Enquiry, where a topic (often linked to aspects of the curriculum) is explored for its conceptual relevance, rather than only content and skills. In a Community of Enquiry students are trained to listen with concentration and purpose, focusing on the thoughts of other students, as a means to build their own understanding of a concept.

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Whole Brain Teaching in Maths

(By Shaan Naidoo, Mathematics)


I’m very interested in the power of whole brain teaching. You can learn more about it here:

I started off with whole brain teaching of the different types of lines and then angles. (This is where I make a statement and show gestures and then the children copy me by teaching their partner.) Thereafter we went out on to the field and using the bodily kinesthetic learning modes, we created the different lines and angles using our bodies.

The students loved being able to move and collaborate, and it’s a really fun way to make Maths come alive!

Empowering Students: My Thoughts on Attending the BELC Regional University Course

(By Wendy Davis, French)


This was the first time a workshop of this type has ever been hosted on African soil and there were teachers from 16 countries throughout Africa. The French Ambassador was in attendance at the closing ceremony and it was a great honour to be a part of this inspiring week.

The first module I followed was “Changing classroom techniques in order to empower students.”  During this course, I was immediately thrown out of my usual comfort zone and could no longer say, “But my way has always worked!” Over the next 15 hours our group of 28 worked on various ways of presenting or facilitating the production of different projects.  This was very exciting and certainly opened my eyes to the fact that teaching really has to take into account individual strengths and weakness of all students and it has to empower the students in different ways.

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The Importance of Fun in the Classroom


(By Brian Slabbert)

Very seldom do teachers put an emphasis on having fun in their classrooms. We often have this misconception that when children have fun in the classroom, they are not learning and we too often compartmentalize having fun and teaching as two separate things.

In my limited experience as a primary school teacher I have seen how important it is to have your pupils enjoy coming to your class. If you can get your pupils to look forward to having their lesson with you and you take the time to make that personal connection, then you have won 80 percent of the battle. The other 20 percent is teaching them the relevant content.

It is especially important for children at primary school level to enjoy a subject and develop a love for that specific subject. The reason for this is that, as with all things in life, we put extra effort into things that we enjoy and hence we tend to excel in those specific areas. If we do not enjoy something, then we generally try to avoid it and in most cases we develop a negative feeling towards it when it is forced upon us.

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