From the Principal

Welcome to Week 8 of Term 2 as we enter the final stages of Semester One. The boys will be undertaking a series of assessment tasks, including exams at all year levels apart from Year 12. Whilst it can be a stressful time we encourage all the boys to plug away, stick to what we hope are good routines, methodically go about finishing off their studies for the Term and do the best they possibly can.

Last Friday 29 May, over 180 of 193 boys and their parents joined us from over fifty different primary schools. Becchi morning is their first transition activity, in the lead up to them joining us as Salesian College students in 2016. The boys were entertained with sporting activities, a tour around the school grounds and they got to know each other courtesy of some get to know you activities. At the same time, parents attended a session where the College provided advice on how they can support their sons through the transition from primary school to secondary school and a session on the sources of e-communication the College uses to keep parents informed about their son’s progress and what is happening at the College. At the end of the gathering we enjoyed a chat over a cuppa and a bite to eat. It was a wonderfully uplifting gathering with both the parents and their sons enjoying the occasion with lots of positive feedback about the information they received. We now look forward to meeting them again later in the year as we continue the transition process leading into next year.

Last Wednesday 27 May, the community enjoyed the Autumn Concert where half of our Year 7 classes, along with the College bands, put on a great show for an audience of about 300. Congratulations to Ms Maryanne Xuereb, Mr Adam Croft and all the instrumental music staff involved in the music program. The evening was filled with good talent, lots of great music and most importantly lots of joy.

Term 2 ACC Sport seasons are coming to an end with finals being played over the next couple of weeks. To this point we have had a successful winter campaign with a number of our football and soccer teams playing off in the finals and we wish them every success.

I was writing my article for the College Griffin magazine last week and without giving too much away, the theme for this production is ‘growing great men’ where we look at the achievements of our students, past and present, outside the academic realm. In the article I challenge the notion that schools should only be judged on their academic achievements as there is so much more that takes place in a school on a daily basis. Interestingly enough, I came across this article later in the week having already completed my article which supports the point I was trying to make. The article, ‘Five intellectual virtues that schools can model and teach’ suggested that schools need to go beyond the core tasks of teaching knowledge and academic skills and purposefully instil intellectual virtues.

The first of the virtues suggested by the article is ‘the love of truth’. It suggests that even when the findings of science are rejected by some, the desire to seek and find the truth is a paramount virtue.
As a leader of Catholic education we are obliged to model this virtue. Too often in contemporary society we look for answers or facts that in truth don’t give us the answers we seek. We believe that a Catholic school has an obligation to assist students in searching for the real truth, to seek answers to the big questions. What is our purpose? Why do we exist? Is there something more to this life? In searching for these answers our boys will grow and develop into fine young men.

The second of the suggested virtues is ‘honesty’. The author writes that honesty enables students to face the limits of what they know, encourages them to confront their mistakes and helps them acknowledge uncongenial truths about the world. Honesty goes beyond refraining from plagiarism and cheating; it means facing up to ignorance and error and accepting reality. The honesty to which is referred is a deep honesty, the hardest honesty, honesty with yourself. The type of honesty we have to live with, in our space and time, when we lie in bed at night, when we are alone where there is no escaping our thoughts because we know.

The third virtue is ‘courage’. The article states that courage means standing up in a considered and thoughtful way for what one believes is true, even when other people disagree – including those in authority. Courage to stand up for truth and what is right in the face of adversity.

The second last of the virtues espoused as worth teaching is ‘fairness’. It is argued that students need to evaluate the arguments of others fair-mindedly. They need humility to face up to their own limitations and mistakes. They need perseverance, since little that is worth knowing comes easily. They need to be good listeners because students can’t learn from others, or from their teachers, without paying careful attention. We have to teach our boys that fairness cannot be compromised, sometimes it will come at a cost, it requires a firm belief that we are all made equal and in the image of God. It demands us to put aside our biases and our interests in our decision making.

The last of the virtues addressed in the article is ‘wisdom’. Wisdom is described as what enables us to find the balance between timidity and recklessness, between carelessness and obsessiveness, between flightiness and stubbornness, between speaking up and listening up, between trust and scepticism, between empathy and detachment. And wisdom is also what enables us to make difficult decisions among intellectual virtues that may conflict. Wisdom helps us to be fair and open-minded while also being faithful to the truth.

To teach these virtues we must lead primarily by example. We teach or model in how we ask questions, how we pursue a dialogue, when and how we interrupt, how carefully we listen, and how often we admit that we don’t know something. We must remember that teachers are always modelling and the students are always watching.

Acknowledgement: “Colleges Should Teach Intellectual Virtues” by Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb 24, 2012

Have a great week and may God bless.

Rob Brennan