From the Principal

Schools: Where good ideas go to die?

Good ideas solve problems, make things better and make us feel that we are doing something worthwhile.
Great ideas inspire us, energise us and change the world for the better.

It is, therefore, a shame that so many good and great ideas disappear without a trace or turn into failure of farce, leaving us “not with a bang but a whimper”. So often their epitaph is: “It seemed like such a good idea at the time.”

Mostly this happens, not because the idea was flawed, but because it was let down and its potential destroyed by the execution of the idea – the bringing it into reality. 

How many ideas are floated in the political arena, announced with great fanfare, even funded and begun, only to disappear under a cloud of ignominy due to poor planning and implementation.

Ineffective, dysfunctional or sabotaged implementation is a great way of making sure that changes do not deliver.

And there is no doubt that schools are often places where good ideas go to die.

Anyone who thinks about Education realises that schools’ role in preparing students for an evolving and rapidly changing world require them to move away from what is described as the “19th Century industrial model of education” to a more agile and relevant style of teaching.

But it is a fact that good ideas are often not realised in schools.

They are either ignored: Looking at change in schools is so frightening to some that the ideas are rejected before they get anywhere near the school gate, let alone being allowed to flower in the classroom. Or they are destroyed or sabotaged by careless, poorly thought out or lazy implementation.

Recently I was fortunate enough to, with our Deputy Principal Mr Allan Guihot, attend a University of Sydney symposium titled:  How can schools be relevant in the 21st century?

The audience was offered a vision of what schools needed to do to address the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s students.

Many in the audience seemed excited by what they heard, others frustrated that their particular “systems” would not perceive the need for change and others questioned how these changes could be implemented.

There’s the rub!

The two most interesting speakers were Prof. Michael Anderson, one of the authors of the new book, “Transforming Schools” and Mr Greg Whitby, Executive Director – Catholic Education, Parramatta. Relatively unknown outside educational circles, Mr Whitby is a big man with big ideas and great energy for change and improvement in Australian education. He enthuses the willing, frightens those who do not want to respond to the challenges facing today’s schools and inspires those who hear and believe in his ideas. Yet, I have seen so many attempts to turn his ideas into teaching and learning reality fail because his acolytes fail to underpin the ideas and reforms with intelligent planning preparation and the professional development needed to make them succeed in their schools.

So this is one of the reasons that educational change has been so slow in coming.

The SCAS Strategic Vision is based on the three tenets that:

  • Excellence begins with an attitude that it is, in fact, possible for us to be great.
  • Effectiveness is about getting the foundations right.
  • Enterprise is about seeking out opportunities and translating these into actions.

That means that when we examine, adapt and adopt good educational ideas, we then have to make sure that they are introduced intelligently, effectively and sustainably.

That means that when we take on a good idea, it stands a chance of doing what it is meant to do → Improve the education of our students and do an even better job of preparing them for success in their future.

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