Taking a cue from piecing broken ceramics

A Brisbane Catholic principal guiding local educators on how to mend broken art pieces during their retreat.  Photos: ACCS

Karen Matilda Tan

The next time you feel broken or experience hopelessness, well don’t despair. Take a leaf from the Japanese art of kintsugi, where by repairing broken ceramics you are able to give new life to pottery. And, the end product may be even better than the original.

This was the lesson shared by a team from Brisbane, Australia, with some 100 Catholic school teachers and principals during a recent retreat. They found that in kintsugi one learns that there is an alternative way to add value to a broken object.

In fact, the principle in this art can be applied to help students view setbacks as opportunities for growth.

The special retreat was conducted by a team from the Brisbane Catholic Education office (BCE) at St Joseph’s Institution on Aug 17 and 18. It is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) and BCE. This year’s theme was on finding strength and new life in brokenness.

The participants were given broken ceramic bowls and art pieces to repair as an experience of how failures and imperfections can become a focal point of beauty and a source of healing.

Many saw a spiritual connection between the activity and their role as educators, finding new insights on how to guide students to look at setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning.

Participants also watched video clips on how people who have encountered severe setbacks emerged all the stronger.

Prior to the retreat, 20 educators from Brisbane Catholic schools visited local Catholic schools to learn about the teaching and learning practices in these institutions’ diverse settings.

From Aug 13-17, they visited St Anthony’s Primary School, Canossa Convent Primary School, CHIJ St Nicholas, Montfort Secondary School, SJI International and Catholic Junior College.

At Canossa Convent Primary, the visitors learnt of the school’s programme to successfully integrate students from the Canossian School for children with hearing loss into mainstream primary school, with the help of special education teachers.

Canossa Convent Primary is part of the larger Canossian Eduplex which includes the Canossian School, a pre-school and the Canossaville Children and Community Services.

Montfort students serving Brisbane educators Teochew porridge during their lunch.

Ms Michaela Lewis from Holy Spirit School at Bray Park, Brisbane, commented, “This was a joyful and caring community. I was amazed by the level of support that the students received.’’

Another highlight was the visit to Montfort Secondary School where the boys whipped up a six-course Teochew porridge lunch to the delight of their guests. Some of the specialities included garlic prawns, braised doufu and chye poh omelette.

The boys were coached by professional chefs as part of an elective module on culinary skills offered to students with an interest in the culinary arts.

This is the sixth year that ACCS and BCE have collaborated on this Teaching and Learning exchange programme. Educators from both sides have said they look forward to a further sharing of ideas.