The School of Total Education, Warwick, Queensland, Australia


photo: Shane Power


Welcome to the Autumn 2016 Email Newsletter from The School of Total Education. The Newsletter is back after a lengthy hiatus, brought about in part by our need to focus on the many changes occurring in primary and secondary education in Australia at present.

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Paul Howson, one of the driving forces behind the creation of this newsletter and the designer of the School’s website. After many years of dedicated service to the ideals of Total

Education, Paul has moved on, leaving a legacy of quality in design and presentation to take us forward with our publications.

In “New on the Website”, we are publishing the talk by Professor Jan Thomas, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland to our 2015 graduates on ‘Privilege and Responsibilities’ at their graduation ceremony. We also have an article on Appreciating Difference and in "From the Archives", an article by David Leech on the origins of the Parents Program.

In “News from SOTE and Beyond”, we look at two recent presentations to the school parent body; one by psychologist Jan Dugan on Resilience, and the other by a panel of parents called Rich Reflections on the Parents Program.

There are quite a few articles in our Blog Update to note, as well as the creation of a second blog on the website called Latest News, which provides current items of interest.

To finish up, we have details of two new books on Total Education by Jan Gudkovs and Jan Dugan: “The Focused Child Parenting for Success and Happiness” and “Helping Children Relax”.

It's great to be in touch again through this medium,


Shane Power


Professor Jan Thomas on 'Priviledge and Responsibilities'

I am delighted to have the opportunity to be with you all on this very important occasion. While I hope that what I have to say here touches a chord with you all, I would like to direct my words in particular to the eight lucky students whose graduation we are celebrating, acknowledging that this is a very important transition moment in your lives.

I understand that the School of Total Education does not consider itself as an elite school from the point of view that its founder wished to provide broad opportunities for participation by the community. However, I believe that the School is elite by virtue of the fact that it embraces an education and community philosophy that is strongly values-based and that concentrates on Read more…

Appreciating Difference by Shane Power

David Leech, the author a forthcoming book on the School’s founder, Vijayadev Yogendra, kindly proofed this article as part of his editorial assistance in the publication of the latest ENewsletter. He was moved to offer the following vignette which illustrates very clearly Vijay’s inspiring practice in ‘Appreciating Difference’ and provides a natural foreword to this essay.

“Before the first School of Total Education opened in 1977 at 12 Chapel St, St. Kilda, Melbourne, a band of volunteers prepared the beautiful old Victorian mansion for the formal opening. A dispute arose amongst some workers about the front garden (human beings have an endless capacity for disputes). Some only wanted native trees and shrubs planted while others preferred deciduous, European and English  species; there seemed no compromise between these two sides. Vijay was made aware of the problem so he came into the garden to decide the issue. He immediately explained that in Nature there were no such disputes: the more diversity and variety in species, the more beauty and harmony.” Read more…

From the Archives: Origins of the Parents Program by David Leech

As we see it, parents should be developing themselves, understanding deeper values, finding out what they want to do for their child or what they want to achieve for their child, instead of saying the child should grow in their own image, or trying to patronize, bamboozle or threaten the child. A child will grow if the impediments to growth are removed. Parents need to identify these and help the child come to terms with them.

Vijay had started a Parents Program when the School commenced in Melbourne (1977); it was a central component of its philosophy and practice. This was well before schools became more self-governing and before parents’ voices began to be heard; parent support was an innovative and untried initiative… Read more…


Jan Dugan on Resilience

Vijay Yogendra, the Founder of the School said and I quote: “In the relationship with my children I have to educate myself more than I educate them”. Vijay spoke on many occasions of the need for parents to grow to gain their child’s respect, rather than just expecting more from children’s behaviour. And that this was a fundament of good parenting.

I think it is very hard for us to understand just what an impact and an influence our example – how we behave, how we treat the children, how we think even, has on the children. They are biologically and emotionally wired to us and without conscious thought, will mimic our behaviour.

Read more on the SOTE website

Rich Reflections on the Parents Program

For the first Combined Parents’ Meeting of the year, David Leech hosted a conversation with former and current SOTE parents, Kathy Dufficy, Jo Burton and Peter Pickering. All three reflected on the solidarity, support and relationships they formed over the years with other parents and the benefits flowing to their families. Time did not allow for questions from the audience but feedback was positive and further such forums were suggested. Interviews with the two parents can be found on the SOTE website.


The Total Education Blog presents short articles about the School and contemporary issues in education.

Why are our Schools not Places of Joy?

Our Principal Shane Power reflects on a recent article by Dr. Ali Black recently published by the APN press. Read more…

Rites of Passage in the 'Have Everything' Era

In May of 2015 the then Grade 12 students hosted a parents' evening on the topic of Risk Taking, which led to an interesting discussion on 'Rites of Passage', how can there be such a ritual when everything is given to our students? Read more…


Grants Group Visits School

We hosted the Block Grant Authority Capital Funding Committee last week as part of our application for funding to build the Roy Fox Memorial Science Laboratory in Building 3. The committee comprised four members, the CEO Dr Grant Watson, the finance director Rod Morris and two schools representatives, Mike Curtis and Lyn Stokes. Read More…

India Bridge Program

School is a hive of activity at the moment with all teachers and staff on deck preparing for the start of school next week. All staff that is, excepting Mrs Bernadine Bradshaw who is presently in India attending training as part of the Australian Government's India Bridge Project…Read More…


New book by Jan & Jan New book by Jan & Jan “The Focused Child Parenting for Success and Happiness” is a new edition of The Focused Child by Psychologists Jan Gudkovs and Jan Dugan. They have also written a new book especially to assist parents wanting to help their children relax.
“As an anxious first-time mother, I have read loads of parenting books that all made me feel even more anxious and inadequate. The Focused Child is such a beautiful gift. This book as opened a door into another realm of parenting for me. I am truly grateful for Jan and Jan’s passion to share their wisdom in this book.”
Kim Bowles - Parent

Full details are the books together with online are ordering are available from their website at

Interviews available:

Laura Weaver and Batya Greenwald — The Soul of Education

Jan Dugan and Jan Gudkovs — The Focused Child

Michael Funder — Reflections of a SOTE Teacher

Satish Kumar — Small Schools and Nurturing the Spirit in Education

Click here to read more and listen to or download the interviews.

Some of the available books on our website

Books Available On Our Website

A range of books on Total Education and related topics can be purchased from the School of Total Education website. Click here to find out more.