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Tintern Grammar’s Adam Kenny is the head of boys’ junior school, head of boys’ education, oversees sport and leadership and is the house co-ordinator.

He has been pivotal in the introduction of the Rock and Water school of psycho-physical training among boys at Tintern Grammar. It aims to help them process emotions, identify their strengths and develop into self-responsible adults.

Year 6 house captain Will Butterfield has been taking part in the program for two years and says it has had a huge impact on his life.

Will says …

Sometimes when I am playing hockey, I can get really focused on doing well and scoring. I can be a ball hog, but what I have learnt through Rock and Water is that you have choices to make and you can choose whether to pass or not. I have improved on the passing side since day one here.

The program has had a big impact on me, especially now that I know what is happening in the world a bit more, and I can place what I am learning in context.

Now as I go into middle school I have to choose another language, and I have more homework and so I have to be able to control myself and handle the stress. When I get stressed, I get a little bit mad with myself but it’s getting better as we have Rock and Water sessions.

At my old school, when I was in year 3, there were no Rock and Water sessions and I would get pretty mad with myself. Now I still get frustrated but it’s a little bit less.

In my saxophone lessons I have been stressed because we have a lot coming up and I can expect too much of myself sometimes. Then I remember to let it be and whatever happens, happens.

I have two sisters who are younger than me. I would get mad with them and I had to get my way but nowadays I am able to see that if I have had my way recently, I need to let them get their way as well.

I am learning to cope with disappointment and now I handle my nerves, before I go into competitions, by deep breathing.

The program has also taught me compassion, which is a word I didn’t even know existed just a little while ago, but I have learnt the importance of helping others who are not as fortunate as me.

I also learn from Mr Kenny as an example, too; he is compassionate, he knows what is going on, and if something bad happens, such as your dog dying, he will know what has happened and reach out.

He is amazing; nothing compares to him. I want to be just like him.

Tintern Grammar grade 6 student Will. Photo: Scott McNaughton
Tintern Grammar grade 6 student Will. Photo: Scott McNaughton

Adam says …

We teach our Rock and Water program to our year 5 and year 6 boys. The program originated in Holland and was designed to empower women but was later expanded to include boys, in recognition of the fact boys need a lot of movement and have a lot of testosterone, and the need to teach them about action and reaction.

We can’t stand the saying “boys will be boys”. We think that is an excuse for poor behaviour or disrespect or poor standard of work, but we do acknowledge that boys have more of a kinesthetic approach – that they like to move about and have energy. The program takes advantage of this by including activities with movement in them.

We have been running the program for more than 10 years. The concept is, essentially, that you can be both rock and water, or strong and fluid.

If you are rock, physically, you stand strong and are not going to be pushed around, and if you are rock emotionally then you stick by what you believe is the right thing to do. If you were to take a fluid approach, that is about not being stubborn and not just looking at a situation from your point of view.

We never say to boys either that you have to be a footballer or a sportsperson; it is just as important to be a singer or a reader. It is about being really fluid with how you see people.

We have started seeing the terminology introduced into the playground, too, where students are able to identify whether they are being rock or water and reflect upon how they act.

The breathing element is a big part of it – taking a moment to breathe deeply before they do something they regret.

I have known Will for a few years and he has always had natural leadership characteristics, so he has always been someone who walks the walk. But even Will is one who can learn.

On the sporting field, for example, he is a dynamo but has learnt it is OK to pass the ball off sometimes. A rock would be go, go, go, while water is able to look around for teammates to pass it to.

Tintern Grammar teacher Adam Kenny. Photo: Scott McNaughton
Tintern Grammar teacher Adam Kenny. Photo: Scott McNaughton

Tintern Grammar


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