From the Principal
On Friday last week we had our first Senior School Assembly for the term and, whilst we weren’t able to gather as we normally would in the Dennett Centre, we were able to use technology to link all the home groups together at the same time. Watch below.
Students who had travelled on immersions to India and Cambodia at the end of last year presented some wonderfully colourful and lively reflections of their experiences. For our musical interlude, Nicola Chadbourne from Year 12 played a beautiful piece on her French horn, accompanied by Junior School music teacher, Mrs Sue Harding. I spoke at the end and, unsurprisingly, used the COVID-19 events of the past few months as my focus.
In part, I contrasted the responses to the pandemic of Sweden and Australia. I have no great desire to criticise Sweden, but I did find it rather remarkable to read a number of analysts praising their response over ours.
I pointed out that Australia has a population of just over 25 million, whilst Sweden’s population is around 10 million, and Australia has recorded around 100 deaths from COVID-19 whilst Sweden has suffered over 3000 deaths. I suggested that those figures were pretty stark in highlighting the differences between their approach and ours.
The Swedish Government did not impose strict lockdown measures on schools and businesses in the same way that the Australian Government did, and so whilst their loss of life was significantly higher than ours, especially as a percentage of population, their economic downturn was much less.
We don’t really know what the impact on Australia would have been if we had adopted the Swedish approach, but it is not unreasonable to suggest that our loss of life would have been in the thousands rather than less than 100.
The point I attempted to make at the assembly was that, as a society, we prioritised the saving of life as our major goal, and whilst that meant that we have paid a correspondingly higher price in terms of the negative impact on our economy, we were willing to do this. The focus on the sanctity of life – all life, of whatever age – is, I think, a powerful statement about what sort of society we are striving to be.
Having said a bit about our national approach to this crisis, I also commented briefly on how we have the opportunity to learn some important lessons from this experience that we can apply directly to our school context. Among these lessons, and perhaps most significantly, is the fact that our actions affect others and their actions affect me.
It is reasonable to suggest that this has never been more obvious than now with respect to physical distancing, hand hygiene and the like, but it may be equally applicable to the values of treating others the way we would wish to be treated, and focusing on the common good for all. I also commented that I think we learnt (or perhaps we were just reminded) that we really do like being together, and that learning is much more enjoyable when it is not done in isolation.
I have stated many times at previous assemblies, dismissal blessings, and all manner of gatherings, that we are encouraged to ‘take the good with us and leave the bad behind’ from our experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different in that there are good lessons to be learnt, and with our foundational belief that we ‘Find God in All Things’, the extraordinary difficulties of the past few months offer much for our discernment and reflection.
Mr Peter Coffey