From the Principal

We have come to the end of another term yet again. The term has been a very productive one and we have achieved much, but once again it has flown in my perspective. I’m sure this is not a view shared by everyone, especially our students who have worked away for the past ten weeks on a daily basis. I find it hard to believe that the eleven weeks have disappeared in spite of all that has happened. We have been able to achieve a great deal in this time and we can look back with a real sense of pride. Having said that, I am sure all in the community will agree that it is always nice to reach the end of a fruitful and very busy term.

The past ten weeks have lived up to our expectations, with the trials and tribulations one comes to expect in a school term. We have had a number of wonderful activities and events mentioned in previous newsletters that have ensured a very eventful term. We have gathered in prayer for the College Mass, celebrating Mary Help of Christians as well as our Mothers’ Day Mass. The College competed on a variety of sports fields, making a number of finals, winning some premierships and having lots of fun along the way. Congratulations to all the boys who represented the school especially those involved in finals. Special congratulations to the Year 9 Football Team and the Senior Badminton Team on winning their respective premierships. We have also been active in the area of Social Justice with all boys endeavouring to make a difference through Social Justice activities. The music team accompanied by our Year 7 music classes performed exceptionally well at the Autumn Concert, entertaining the audience on the night. Amongst all of these activities and events we have also been able to accomplish some exciting teaching and learning. It has been a very productive and rewarding term and all involved should be congratulated for the part they played.

Last Thursday evening we had approximately two hundred beautifully attired young men and women celebrate the Year Twelve Formal at Merrimu Receptions. The formal provides an opportunity for the boys to celebrate their final year of secondary education in a social setting. The maturity and class these young people displayed was a credit to themselves first and foremost, to their parents secondly and finally to Salesian College and all the schools represented by the girls.

The boys were very enthusiastic, positive, and in a happy frame of mind from the outset, hell bent on sharing a great night together. The boys and their partners danced all night. They shared good humor in the way they danced and chatted, but also in the awards that were presented on the night. They interacted with their teachers showing the care and respect they had for them with a willingness to include them in their celebrations. It is a night that I hope they reflect on fondly in years to come, as I know I will. This annual event is a great evening, following on from previous years. The Year 12 Formal lived up to the standards and traditions of years past, setting the tone for future groups to live up to.  Congratulations to all in attendance, and a special thanks to Mrs. Rhea Beurs and her team of helpers for their work with the boys in organizing the evening and bringing such a great night to fruition.

This week I want to pick up on a theme that I have been pondering quite a bit of late in my dealings with a number of people, both in my personal life and my professional life. This is the theme of ‘Making Excuses’, a trait I feel I am witnessing more and more, which doesn’t surprise me given the world in which we live. A world where it appears there is always someone or something we can blame for our failings, and a lawyer just around the corner more than willing to argue our excuse legally.

To begin I ask people to reflect on the following question. “Are you the kind of person who always makes excuses?” Think about it. Every low test score, poor behaviour, missed deadlines or failed project gives us the opportunity to try out new excuses. It was a melt-down at home. A sick cat. An emergency at work. They pick on me. I was only mucking around. Not to mention the traffic and the weather.

This kind of talk is so familiar that most of us don’t even listen any more, even when it comes out of our own mouth.

Some excuse experts don’t even wait until they have failed to come up with an excuse. They handicap themselves in advance. Their excuses come pre-attached: I never went to class. I was too tired to study. I had no idea what was required. The teacher is boring.

This is called self-sabotage, like watching TV the night before a test, skipping class or pretending to be sick on the day of the exam. Some people do this a lot and teachers usually know exactly who is likely to come up with an excuse, every time. Sometimes the excuse expert is not even aware how often they do it or how much it is really costing them in lost opportunities and lost potential.

Some psychologists believe people want to protect their self-image at all costs. They would rather see themselves having never tried rather than trying and failing. This urge seems to be stronger in men than in women. In surveys, people were asked to rate how well a series of 25 statements describes their own behaviour — for example, “I try not to get too intensely involved in competitive activities so it won’t hurt too much if I lose or do poorly”. Men tend to score higher on these measures and to handicap themselves more severely.

Given the opportunity, and a good reason, most people will claim some handicap. In one study, people who were told (wrongly) they got bad test scores blamed a lack of practice and cushioned the blow to their self-esteem by saying to themselves they could have succeeded if they had practised more.

In another experiment, participants who had a good excuse for their poor scores (distracting noises pumped through headphones they wore during the test) were less motivated to prepare for the next test than those who had no excuse. The handicap allowed them to say, “All things considered, I actually did pretty well”.

As a short-term strategy, self-handicapping is often no more than an exercise in self-delusion. Studies of students have found that habitual handicappers, those who skip a lot of classes, who miss deadlines, who don’t read the textbook, tend to rate themselves in the top 10% of the class, though their grades are usually low. They convince themselves they are smarter than the poor fools who work hard to get their high marks and over time become even less likely to put in the work themselves.

But the tactic doesn’t fool many people. People start to judge you as being bright but lazy, a whiner and a complainer who cannot be relied on. That leads to poor chances at school and even worse consequences out in the workforce. These are the people who wonder why it’s always other people who get the promotion and the salary increase.

The best excuse makers even recruit someone else to make their excuses for them. This could be a friend who sticks up for you even when you know you don’t deserve it. Or you convince your parent to make excuses for your low marks rather than holding you to account. It is here where parents can help solve the problem or make it worse. We need to ask ourselves, are we allowing- or worse still, encouraging our children to make excuses?

 

The question we need to ask ourselves, and most importantly have our kids ask themselves, is this. What makes you feel good about yourself? Knowing you tried your best but didn’t do as well as you expected? Or is it easier to say to yourself, “I could have done well- but I’ll never know because I am not prepared to make the effort?”

It is only when we take responsibility for our actions or inactions that we can begin to make the changes necessary to improve our lot in life.

Remember, there are a lot of could-have-beens and should-have-beens in this world and we shouldn’t be looking to add to this number. We should be able to look back at things, regardless of what point in life we do so, and be proud of what we achieved knowing that we gave it everything we had. We had a real hot go.

A Quote to Remember:

There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.

- Author Unknown

Mr Robert Brennan
Principal