“I love my job!”
I utter these words on a fairly regular basis and, when I do, those who know me well understand that some aspect of my job is testing my resolve. I might be feeling disappointed, or frustrated, or overwhelmed or just worn out. Those who know me best also know, however, that I mean it; I really do love my job, even when it is challenging.
As you know, at St Paul’s School we are committed to a holistic understanding of education. We are interested in so much more than just the academic outcomes that our students achieve by the time they graduate. We are just as, if not more, interested in the type of people they are becoming. Our understanding of “success” includes that a young person flourishes, both during their school years and when they move on to life beyond school. When I describe to colleagues in other places what we mean by a holistic education, I describe it as being “… concerned with educating the whole person – body, mind and soul – to develop his or her fullest potential” (lee, 2015).
Allow me to share three anecdotes of what that looks like on a daily basis…
Last Thursday, our Year 12 cohort enjoyed their last day of ‘regular’ lessons, before the external exam block commenced, and they came to School in high spirits. We had a great day with them, with included a mixture of final words of wisdom, as well as lots of laughs and even a lunch-time waterslide. It was wonderful to see this closely-knit cohort demonstrating their readiness to take on whatever the coming weeks may bring, as well as a high level of respect for the School and staff, and genuine affection for their peers. We are proud of who they have become.
On Monday, I spoke to the students just beginning their journey through Secondary School – the Year 7s – introducing them to the concept of “respectful intimate relationships”. At one stage I mentioned kissing and was amused by the response of a young man in the front row … “Eeew, yuk!”. It was a great reminder for me that our task as educators is a never-ending one: just as one group of young people are coming to the end of their adolescence, another group are just beginning.
On Wednesday evening, Dr Browning, Rev. Mark and I joined with the House Leaders and Year 10 cohort for the final evening of their camp at Stirling Crossing, Imbil. The focus of this camp is a Rite of Passage experience, in which the students are encouraged to think about any aspect(s) of their childhood they might like to relinquish as they move into their senior phase of education. We suggested that these things might include bad habits, childish (egocentric) behaviour, guilt and regret over past poor choices, or a sense of hurt or loss from childhood grief or trauma. It was a very moving ceremony and one which, we hope, will be remembered as a significant occasion within each student’s journey of spiritual formation.
And so, you see, there really is much more to the school experience than just what goes on in classroom and playground. Which is why, I really do love my job.
Mr Nigel Grant
Executive Director of Faith & Community