Term 1 is such a busy term for school events. Last week and this one just ending, have seen the Athletics Carnivals for both the Primary and High Schools completed. These were great events to visit and chat with students in a different environment from School. Likewise, the Year 9 camp was in full swing when I dropped by, with students enjoying time out from regular lessons, sharing in each other’s company and learning new types of lessons through a variety of challenging activities and team building games. Next week it will be the turn of Year 5 and the Year 10 Physical and Sports Studies classes to go on camp.
This is also a busy time for our students academically as Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 undertake the online practice for NAPLAN. This has no bearing on their reported NAPLAN results and is purely a way of making students more comfortable with the process whilst the School tests its systems. For our senior students, the end of this term is a heavy assessment time.
Of course, the Musical production team and cast have been rehearsing once or twice a week since the start of term and are well and truly on track for an amazing show.
All this diverse activity (including so much that I haven’t mentioned) leads me to the questions of ‘what is school for?’ and ‘what is the ‘good’ that a school should be working towards?’.
While these sound like rather airy-fairy kinds of things to give time to, it is actually our belief systems, world views and philosophies which lead us to hope, plan and act in response to the world around us. For a large organisation such as a school with a distinct culture, these are real and critical questions to seek answers for.
The concept of ‘good’ is something that philosophers have wrestled with throughout the ages, right from Socrates and Plato, to modern thinkers. Some think that ‘good’ comes from within us, or from what we do, or the actions that benefit the larger community. The Bible provides us with information that leads us to know that only God is good (Mark 10:18) and that He is the source of what is good. The Bible also tells us that God has demonstrated his goodness, in sending Jesus to die on the cross and then be resurrected, as the only means by which our broken relationship with Him can be restored (John 3:16).
The good life that He promises, isn’t a situation, possession, relationship, or position. The good life that God promises us, is Himself. This is something we cannot earn in any way, rather God makes this offer freely to those who trust Him. This offer allows Christians to not just focus on what they do, rather, it can become a source of motivation in their hearts. This is exemplified in what Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Ch 5-7).
So the Bible gives us a summary of what is ‘good’ and what this looks like when Jesus answered the question “What is the greatest commandment?” Which essentially asks, ‘What should we make our highest priority in life?’
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)
So what does ‘the good’ mean for us as a school?
I believe that on the surface level, we must provide a safe and supportive learning environment, which prepares students to achieve their personal academic best. We strive to be a school where our students are well-known, well cared for and well-educated.
However, I believe, the good we do extends beyond graduation. A school must work for a ‘deeper good’. Yes, it includes preparing students to be lifelong learners and to equip them with the skills to respond to a rapidly changing workforce. It also means much more than this.
What we desire for our students, is the development of attributes that will result in making significant positive impacts, in their own lives and in the lives of others for years to come. We seek to equip our students with patterns of thinking, with attitudes which will result in ‘good’ outcomes. It is hoped that these good outcomes, will arise via opportunities to lead in a multitude of situations; in both highly visible ways, as well as in the everyday lives of others. These kinds of ‘good’ last for lifetimes and generations.
More so, our students have the opportunity to find out about Jesus Christ. The Saviour who is celebrated this and every Easter. It is in His death and resurrection, a supreme act of God’s goodness, which enables us to be in a right relationship with God. This is a ‘good’ that will last an eternity.
Fundamentally, as a school, we are called to love God and to work to serve the needs of our community, both in the short and long term. This is a real and significant ‘good’.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28
In His service,