A Message from the Principal

In this second article of my series on the Carey Student Attributes, I am focusing on ‘Collaboration and Communication’. What is good collaboration and where is it happening at William Carey?

If you research 21st Century skills, you will find a range of skills with a common four – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Collaboration and communication have become buzz words and often are used indiscriminately and without clearly identifying the features of good collaboration. Collaboration is more than just cooperation.

Collaboration is nothing new and is highlighted in the Bible as the way that Christians are expected to consider one another and relate together under Christ’s headship. The Apostle Paul wrote to churches (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) and likened collaboration to the different parts of a body working together. Each part of the body being different, but necessary and working together for the same purpose. This provides us with a picture of collaboration.

A simple and clear definition of collaboration could be: Two or more people working together towards shared goals.

This definition highlights three key components of good collaboration

  • A team of people
  • Using a range of processes that are best suited to the context
  • Working to achieve a common purpose

Collaboration requires the team of people to clearly understand their purpose, to be involved in making joint decisions, planning and problem solving together.

One of the most crucial factors in collaboration is communication. Students need to be able to express themselves clearly to each other and successfully manage communication with regards to their goal.

Other factors that result in good collaboration include compromise and tolerance. Teams of students will ultimately bring individuals together who have different backgrounds, competencies and expectations. If a team contains members who are stubborn or unwilling to listen to others’ ideas, collaboration will not take place.

Collaboration requires trust, and trust comes from reliability and consistency. Each and every collaborator has to have the skill of being consistent and being reliable. Students on a team need to have faith in each other to complete tasks and trust among one another when sharing ideas and giving feedback.

There are so many different examples of collaboration around the school, however, I would like to highlight the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme expeditions as a prime example. On these expeditions students are placed in groups with both friends and others they know less well. They are required to plan their route, food and equipment to complete the bush walk.

On the walk, students need to work as a team to arrive together, at a set destination. The team needs to ensure that the slower walkers remain in close contact with the faster walkers in the group. A successful expedition requires careful navigation. Decision making in navigation involves the team to use available information to determine the best choice. Obstacles need to be negotiated using good communication and exercising trust in one another. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan and the team must respond to ensure every member is cared for. This was the case on a recent Bronze Practice Expedition. Practice expeditions require students to take responsibility for decision making and navigation, while under the supervision of a staff member.

Four walking groups were completing the Bronze expedition when it became apparent that one of the groups had not passed through the required check point. Radio contact indicated that the group was not lost or hurt but had found themselves ‘geographically embarrassed’, a long way from camp and facing the problem of running out of day light.

With all other walkers in at camp, three students and a teacher set out at 3:00 pm to guide the late group back in. Radio contact amongst the gullies and ridges of the Blue Mountains was patchy and locating the missing group took some time, however, the group was eventually found. It goes without saying that the misplaced group was exhausted from extra walking and the worry of being off route.

Despite walking the set route plus the kilometres covered in the search, the three boys and teacher helped the last group in by carrying their packs, sharing the load and helping the last of the walkers into camp safely at 9:30 pm.

I want to tell this story to highlight what it means to be a Carey student and to commend these individuals. These students exhibited a strong sense of collaboration, working as a team, serving others with bravery, to ensure that everyone made it into camp for the night.

I encourage all our students to adopt a similar attitude toward their work with others at school and where ever they find themselves.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. 

Romans 12:1-6

In His service,

Keith McMullen