The Women of the Future – our wish for St Catherine’s Girls

At the Years 7 and 8 Awards Assembly this week our Principal, Mrs Michelle Carroll, spoke about the sculpture ‘Fearless Girl’ installed on March 7, 2017, in New York. The Fearless Girl depicts a girl facing the famous Charging Bull Statue.  The statue sends a visual message encouraging workplace gender diversity and the recruitment of women to company boards.  The plaque below the statue states, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”

I recently had the great pleasure of spending time in Italy taking delight in all the culture and history this extraordinary country has in abundance.  This trip also coincided with my appointment here at St Catherine’s School.

Of course, when travelling though Italy the influence of the Catholic Church is ever present. As I contemplated my vision and goals in my new role at St Catherine’s I was visually reminded, through my travels, of the strength and great character of the woman, Saint Catherine – one of the two patron saints of Italy. Her presence was everywhere and my travels presented an opportunity to learn more about this person of great significance.

During her life in the 14th Century, Catherine conducted an ambitious and fearless letter writing campaign to influential people.  This included lengthy correspondence with Pope Gregory XI.  She beseeched royalty and religious leaders for everything from peace between Italy’s republics to reform within the clergy.

This go-getting early activism was considered highly unusual for a woman at the time and her no-holds-barred style, sometimes scolding cardinals and queens like naughty children, was gutsy by any standard. Yet, rather than be prosecuted for her insolence, she was admired; her powers of persuasion often winning the day where so many others had failed.  These attributes demonstrate a person of great character.

Ron Ritchhart from Harvard University presents a powerful view on what it means to be intelligent.  In his thought provoking book, Intellectual Character, he challenges conventional notions of what it means to be ‘smart’.  Ritchhart argues that intelligent action in the world is what counts most, with ability being only a part of performance.  Intellectual Character is an overarching term to describe a set of dispositions that not only shape but motivate intelligence.  They are;

Creative thinking: looking out, up, around, and about;

  1. Open-minded
  2. Curious

Reflective thinking: looking within;

  1. Metacognitive

Critical thinking: looking at, through, and in between;

  1. Seeking truth and understanding
  2. Strategic
  3. Sceptical

At St Catherine’s our teachers are striving continually to deliver and improve upon the quality of their teaching.  This requires learning from international research and incorporating best practice from the most effective schools around the world, all with the sole aim of enhancing the learning of our students.

Over the past weekend, our School recognised the Feast Day of Saint Catherine, the namesake of our School and the patron saint of educators and scholars. Saint Catherine was a woman with a high intellect and a strong voice, not afraid to stand up for the truth.  Noble traits we aim to instil into all the girls here as they, like Saint Catherine, become fearless women.

Fearless Girl Sculpture: Kristen Visbal
Images: State Street Global Advisors & Federica Valabrega


Mr Robert Marshall, Director of Teaching and Learning (2018)