For various reasons, I have had ample time to read (and listen to music) lately. While I have indulged in some interesting fiction (a friend recommended the Robert Galbraith novels), I also spent time reading and thinking about how radically the world has changed in the last few years and how a school like ours should react to those changes.
The following quotes stood out to me as interesting and/or important in viewing how our school should react to the changes in the world:
- “In the 21st century, somebody or something changed the rules about how our world works.”
- “At this point we appear to have a 19th century curriculum, 20th century buildings and 21st century students facing an undefined future.”
- “It’s quite fashionable to say that the education system’s broken – it’s not broken, it’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just that we don’t need it anymore. It’s outdated.”
- “You can’t take on 21st century tasks with 20th century tools and hope to get the job done.”
They led me to consider the following questions:
- What is the role of our school in this rapidly evolving world? Is it solely to pass on information (and the ability to regurgitate it in exams) and keep students off the streets, out of the Centrelink queues and unemployment statistics?
- Faced with the challenges and changes we are seeing, how should our School respond? Should we just hope that COVID and all the other issues we now face will just go away and we can keep, comfortably, doing what we have always done?
- How do we decide which changes are for the good of our students? How do we determine what is improvement and what are mere fads, fantasies and self-serving confections designed to enrich the sellers?
I think it comes down to determining the difference between Change and Improvement?
Change for the sake of change is usually expensive, disruptive and, at best, yields short term results. Improvement is doing better in those areas where we have control to ensure that we offer our families a relevant, engaging and future-focussed education.
Faced with a rapidly evolving set of circumstances, schools like ours must determine what is truly important in terms of our culture and traditions that must be kept, and what has become outmoded and dysfunctional and stands in the way of providing a real, engaging and relevant education to our students.
At St Columba we value effort, honesty, service, teamwork, positive aspiration and the Gospel values that underpinned our creation. They are a part of being involved in this community.
These are going nowhere!
They will remain the lodestones that will guide our way forward.The name, Lodestone, comes from Middle English for “leading stone.” It’s said to be a great talisman for direction and can help you get back on track if you’re feeling lost.
These values are good for our students, good for our community and highly valued in the workplace – that has not changed! What we have to do is ensure that these remain part of any evolution of our School.
What we also have to do is ensure that our efforts (and we know our staff work incredibly hard) focus on providing the kind of education that recognises that our world continues to change and education that opens doors to a great future for our students.
So, we focus on improving our structures, our practices and our modes of teaching to ensure that our students are not left behind. We are willing to learn from the best in the world how to offer the best in education because being a good school is never going to be enough for St Columba.
Online presentations, Deep Learning, the 6Cs, school-university partnerships, school-industry partnerships, student-led reviews of progress, and new electives are just a few of our strategic responses to the challenges our School faces.
They are some of the improvements we have introduced in recognition the world has changed and will keep doing so. They are designed to make learning at St Columba more relevant, engaging and inspiring. They are improvements that we believe will bear fruit in the lives of our students.
“I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words each hour, each day, everyday, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success. I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. I will walk where failures fear to walk. I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have.” O. Mandino