THANKS FOR A GREAT START
Our operational ‘theme’ for this year is Growing Within, Serving Beyond. I will reflect on it regularly through newsletters. It presents a “touchstone” for staff, an ever-present teachable moment for our students and hopefully also resonates with our families and broader communities. I consider myself to be quite a grateful person, though perhaps in the context of ‘growing within’, I should more regularly be overt in expressing that gratitude.
So, further to my recent communication expressing my thanks for your terrific cooperation regarding our traffic challenges for the start of the year, I’d also like to convey my thankfulness in broader terms. In the past fortnight I have already spoken with hundreds of students and been through approximately half of the classes so far. It is very clear that our students are authentically “school-ready” this year. That is not measured by shoes polished and lunches sorted; moreover, it is a legitimate “presence” to being here, accepting the responsibility to grasp opportunities in and out of classrooms, recognising the innate value of well-rounded schooling. As such, I salute you as families for the evident discussions and encouragement that whilst holidays are wonderful, schooling is the very foundation for the life that awaits.
At Staff Retreat this year, we were reminded of the words of A J Juliani…
Our job is not to prepare students for something. Our job is to help students prepare themselves for anything…..
A Thought for the Family
With the year now settling into something of a routine, I am re-visiting several College Policy documents which are due for review through the year. In each instance, one of the foremost guiding principles is to consider how the policy reflects our Mission Statement and associated goals and values. So, a certain amount of circumspection leads me to sharing the following ….
A young American Indian boy came to his grandfather full of anger at a friend whom he thought had done him an injustice. The old grandfather said to his grandson,
“Let me tell you a story, because hate wears you down, but does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.”
He continued… “It is as if there are two wolves inside you. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offence when no offence is intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But the other wolf! Ahhh! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger will change nothing. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside you, for both of them try to dominate your spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked… “Which one wins, grandfather?”
The grandfather smiled and quietly said… “The one you feed.”
What a powerful story! One that any parent could, and should, share with their children. It exemplifies the very essence of choices and consequences; it is about values and respect. These are not simply words that have been bandied around so often as to be devalued or of little significance; they are the foundation of what is good and desirable in our school and in our society. As one would expect, our family units and our schools, together, are the custodians of these traits, and this is factual regardless of whether society governs our home and school life or, alternatively, the combination of parents and teachers lead society.
Students must be allowed to recognise that a worthy life is based on making informed choices and moving forward with the consequences that become attached to the choices made. It is behoven of anyone associated with the education of young people to teach them to make decisions and to ensure they are prepared to accept the fall-out from those decisions. This is easier said than done in a world that seems inexplicably focused on apportioning blame to someone else, anyone else but self, in fact, and resorting to litigation if the end result is not one they had a personal preference for. Witness the student who is not responsible for the tardiness of her school arrival time or the condition of his uniform, who ages to become the adult who is not answerable for the speeding ticket or accountable for the corporate fraud.
Values and respect are not instinctive or bestowed. These are qualities that are learned from imitating good role models and enacting behaviours that warrant endorsement. For students the good role models are their parents and teachers. One cannot ignore the pressure of peers; however, they also have parents and teachers as their sources of character building. What to value evolves from living in a culture that appreciates that certain things are essential to the continued existence and freedoms of that group of inhabitants. Whilst these may vary somewhat, there exists certain almost inalienable standards and social expectations for our students. Consider the students who do not value honesty or respect other peoples’ property, who age to become the adults who are unemployed or in the courts because of circumstances they argue are beyond their control.
2020 is shaping up to be an awesome year at St Andrews. Thanks for being on the journey with us.