From the Principal

We’ve Always Done It That Way

That is not a good enough reason to keep doing it today (and tomorrow)!

Dysfunction (Definition)
1 : impaired or abnormal functioning
2 : abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group.

Sometimes something that has worked to the benefit of an organisation in the past, can become a major impediment to success when circumstances have changed. Old ways of doing things become dysfunctional and need to be changed to meet new circumstances.

As someone who has had the privilege of teaching History, I can take a longer view of events and sometimes this leads to a skepticism of our tendency to jump on the bandwagon of the “next big thing”.

At the same time history has shown us that there is  great danger in allowing habits, ideas and systems to continue to exist when they are not only ineffective but damaging.

Empires have fallen in this way!

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
P.B. Shelley

As part of my inner child, I find that A.A. Milne gives a wonderful example of the challenge facing organisations like schools in dealing with the need to look hard at what we do and decide what we need to keep doing and what we need to change:

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs, now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but somewhere he feels there is another way, if only he could stop for a moment and  think of it.”  A. A. Milne

Education seems to be constantly in the news, either because we have failed to change and improve – Falling standards compared to the rest of the world” 

or because we have changed too much -” Children struggle to hold pencils due to too much tech, doctors say. The Guardian.

If we are to continue to serve our community and remain one of the best schools in the state, we have to always find ways to improve. Change to make things better, not just for the sake of doing something new.

We know our students will emerge into a different world to the one their parents discovered when they left school. We know, from experience, that our SCAS students will leave us and travel and work around Australia and overseas and/or attend university in one of our bigger cities and they will need to be ready for the world they find out there.

“Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.” The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, Chapter 1.

Australians are among the most mobile people in the world and schools need to accept and acknowledge this fact as part of their structure and teaching. No matter how much we would like to protect our young from the “big bad world” the fact is that it is most likely where they are going.

But if you want to leave take good care
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
But just remember there’s a lot of bad and beware
Wild World, Cat Stevens


Now, I know that many people will see the changes we are making as movement away from what they have known (and loved).

Many parents and grandparents will find today’s school different and even a bit frightening because it is so different to the schooling they experienced.

The classrooms look different, the students seem to talk a different language, there is technology everywhere, there are less high stakes examinations, there are robots, “flipped” classrooms, drones, apps, overseas excursions, etc etc.

The very human response to this can be fear, even a sense of betrayal.

We are creatures of habit.  Change can make people feel that they’ve lost control over their territory. Routines become automatic, but change jolts us, sometimes in uncomfortable ways.

By definition, change is a departure from the past. Those people associated with the last version — the one that no longer works, or the one that’s being superseded — are likely to be defensive about it. The reality we face is that the world continues to change and despite the fact that we are a regional/country school, we are affected by these changes. Like tossing a pebble into a pool, change creates ripples, reaching distant spots in ever-widening circles and we see those ripples moving towards our students. Our challenge is to identify the changes taking place and prepare our students to confront, confound and benefit from these changes.

What we promise : We will remain focused on keeping the important things that make SCAS the school it is and avoid change for the sake of change. But we will always seek to improve. We can see these challenges as a catastrophe or an adventure.

SCAS will choose adventure of over fear.

Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School
Related posts
From the Principal

Who is teaching what?

From the Principal

Think before you attack

From the Principal

Educating for the future

From the Principal

Principal's Blog