From the Principal – September 2021
The value of friendship depicted in this year’s College Captains motto ‘Building our Future’ reflects the realisation that we can value diversity and equity and be respectful by directly engaging with one another, building upon friendship, as we continue to aspire to be a collegial community.
Our role as parents and educators is to encourage our children – person to person – to engage in modelling the behaviours that will promote healthy, positive, respectful and inclusive communities. We know that they are not without a natural understanding, appreciation or capacity, as demonstrated by our youngest students, who are most adept at making friends. A skill that is captured by the American humourist, Josh Billings in making the observation that: “A puppy plays with every pup he meets, but an old dog has few associates.”
It is a personal joy to observe our youngest children (pups) display their remarkable ability to form friendships, one which explains why Junior School remains my favourite destination for ‘escape’!
As a school we are focused on developing people of good character, that live by the values of the College and are global citizens equipped to embrace the challenge of any future. American philosopher and legal scholar Martha Nussbaum describes three capacities for developing humanity which are essential components for developing global citizens in today’s world:
- A critical examination of oneself and one’s traditions
- The ability to see oneself as bound to all other human beings by ties of recognition and concern
- Concern and ability to think about what it might be like to be in the shoes of a different person
(reference Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education)
If we are to nurture in our young people a greater capacity to build on the act of friendship, then we must help them to develop an understanding of the attitudes, values and competencies that are most influential in developing a global citizen mindset.
An initiative of the Varkey Foundation, the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) brings together world leaders from the public, private and social sectors to seek solutions to achieving education, equality and employment for all. In 2017 their research revealed the values that were most important in developing a global citizen:
- Value and respect for differences (84%)
- The belief that all people are equal, and no one is more superior or inferior than anyone else (80%)
- Empathy towards others (76%)
- Curiosity and the desire to learn more about the world (75%)
- The belief that people can make a difference (75%)
- Commitment to social justice and equity (73%)
- Concern for the environment and commitment to sustainable development (73%)
Their research concluded that a global citizen is seen as one with a particular mindset rather than a defined skillset and the ability to speak the same language as others is seen as much less important than the willingness to see the other person’s point of view. In fact, difference, not commonality is what is celebrated and marked out as important, with the only requirement of others being a similar openness and respect for difference.
During the pandemic, we must continue in our endeavour to nurture in our young people the concept that they are not only citizens of their country, but citizens of the world, which means taking responsibility as global citizens by embracing diversity, pursuing equity, demonstrating respect through the love known as friendship.
Mrs Maria McIvor