This year, the annual Anglican Schools Australia (ASA) Conference, was held in Hobart.
Along with our Chaplain, Rev. Paul Hodge, I was able to join other Anglican educators from across the country in a celebration of education and an opportunity to delve into what makes Australian Anglican education the powerhouse it remains.
The Conference provided us with the opportunity to liaise with individuals who hold similar roles in like schools, learn about strategic initiatives in other schools, make connections to share policies, procedures and curriculum, and have an opportunity to work closely in creating great schools.
For me, the standout presentation was one by Rev. Daniel Heischman. His address was titled, ‘Enhancing our Anglican Identity’, focused on the fundamental characteristics of identity and mission of Australian Anglican Schools.
The presentation was a follow-up to a forum, where a group of delegates attempted to clarify what it means to be an Anglican School in Australia today, amidst the diversity of theology within the Anglican Church, and the growing secularisation and religious diversity of the country.
Six themes were chosen by Rev. Heischman, around which conversations took place: faith, reason, worship, pluralism, character and service. While this list is hardly encapsulating of all the constituent parts of Anglican identity, Rev. Heischman devised the themes to give structure and comprehensiveness to the discussions, and to help set the stage for what makes Anglican Schools unique.
And what were the “take-aways” for me from this paper? Here are some.
- remains a Christian, faith-based endeavour, grounded in the teachings of Jesus;
- is invitational in nature, where those of other faiths are welcome;
- offers our students the option of appreciating something larger than themselves;
- is open to dialogue and a sharing of diverse experiences;
- remains a powerful force in teaching and learning in Australia;
- has a service mentality based on our efforts to, in the image of Christ, character in our students and our School culture – character and service as mutual blessings;
- is where people can bring questions, challenge assumptions and sharpen their understanding of our tradition.
And then there are the questions I find arise from the conference….
- To what extent does St Columba reflect the Anglican identities which are common to other Anglican Schools?
- How do we communicate our Anglican identity to the community and prospective families?
- To what extent does our School actively promote and engage in activities that reveal our culture to the community?
- How can our schools continue to offer hope to our students in the face of an often “dark” world?
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School