The mood around the school this week has had some similarities with the feeling usually associated with the first day of the school year. It was a delight to have all back on campus. As I mentioned last week many have learnt a lot about how they learn best while in the period of off-campus learning. Without doubt that has often been valuable. Interestingly, this is a sentiment that is being voiced in many schools across the nation. I have heard calls from some educators to consider ways to retain some aspects of recent experience. The aspects that have been positive of course. That is an inevitable reaction to any change of experience. We all want more of the good experiences from any new activity.
Nevertheless, (and certainly not disagreeing that there have been positive aspects to the recent off-campus program) I would argue that we also see very clearly the value of being at school. A great school is about more than learning the technical parts of the curriculum. We gather together to socialise (and this is not wasted time), we gather to experience the difference we all bring to a moment or a problem. Possibly we gather simply to enjoy a friend. Alone we can meditate, be calm, relax and refine our thoughts. Together we can have choir, join a band, be part of a team, create drama or share quiet time in the company of others. The point is, together we experience life in a way that is impossible when we are disconnected. This week we have had the value of school reinforced. Our world expanded and the result was that we can be more than ourselves can ever be in isolation. The result of the return to school was simple. The smiles I saw were spontaneous and genuine. They did not need deep analysis to discover meaning.
Many feel that in the last few weeks they have lost the opportunity to experience some of the ‘favourite parts’ of school. Teams, choirs, bands and sport are just a few that are often mentioned. So the challenge of the weeks ahead includes creating new experiences. We should aim to fill our year with memories that will last. Some of the ideas that we need to create will be new to the school. This should not limit the discussion. The Year 12s in particular are invited to consider activities and events that will provide them with the memories that will last a life-time.
I also invited all year groups to consider what they wanted to say to the new Principal at the start of Term 4. How do they want to describe their year group? What do they think are the important aspects of the school they wanted her to hear about? How do they want to greet her? There are literally a dozen or more ways this could be tackled. Perhaps it is a short drama production. Perhaps a new song. Maybe a dance will best express the thing that is special about a group. I am inviting the development of ideas.
Mr Peter Crawley