This week I would like to share the address I presented to our secondary school students on assembly. In it, I asked our girls to reflect on the bigger picture of what education means to them. I asked them to consider their education as more than just academic learning.
“Why are we all here today? Our entire staff of teachers, cleaners, administration, accountants, grounds people, executive, kitchen staff, bus drivers and all others are all here to support you to achieve your very best. But what actually is education? People differ on how they answer this question. Various factors contribute to a person’s understanding of the purpose of education, including their background and circumstances. Personally, I believe that education should expand our capabilities - including academic achievements, our community connectiveness and our embrace of difference.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It is interesting to note that there is nothing said about academic achievement. Education is more than just academics. Your education should enable you to engage with the world around you. You all have unique strengths and weaknesses, outlooks and personalities. Your education is personal. It is about cultivating both your mind and your personality.
You all know ‘Clever, Confident and Connected’. Usually, as Deputy Principal – Studies, I discuss ‘Clever’ quite a bit. Today I want to concentrate on ‘Connected’ and how that relates directly to your education at Girls Grammar.
We want you to understand your own culture, but also to respect others. Your education should help you understand tolerance. As the world becomes more crowded and connected, it is also becoming more complex. Living respectfully with diversity is not just an ethical choice, it is a practical necessity.
At Girls Grammar, we have three cultural priorities for you:
1. to understand your own culture
2. to understand other cultures
3. to have tolerance and live in coexistence with others.
We want you to become active and compassionate citizens. Our democratic freedoms are not automatic. They come from centuries of struggle and those struggles are never over. It is the responsibility of each generation to continue that work, and to not become complacent.
Finally, your education should also enable you to become economically independent women. This is one of the reasons governments take such a keen interest in education. An educated workforce is essential to creating economic prosperity. We know that many of the jobs of previous decades are disappearing and being rapidly replaced by contemporary counterparts. It is impossible to predict the direction of advancing technologies, and to know where they will take us. You all need to be skilled to take on as yet unknown career paths. This is why the skills you learn at school are probably much more important than the content.
At Girls Grammar, we must connect you with your unique talents and skills to become more than clever young women.”
Dr John Fry
Deputy Principal - Studies
This article is inspired by the book ‘Imagine If: Creating a Future for Us All’ by Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D and Kate Robinson, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by the Estate of Sir Kenneth Robinson and Kate Robinson.