Acting Director of Learning
A Freedom to “only connect”
This week in Advanced English I challenged my class to consider what has motivated them to study Advanced English. We pondered the question “why study literature?” I secretly hoped that their responses would yield a passion for literature and all that it can reveal about the world; I am proud to say I was not disappointed. The responses revealed the sensible and very ‘correct’ answer that “Advanced English will develop our reading and writing skills, it will teach us to think and question, it will expose us to texts we haven’t read before.” But the crux of the discussion was this: it will teach us to connect with others, with varying contexts, with alternative perspectives – it will challenge us to empathise. We determined that this is the essence of literature – that literature embodies E.M. Forster’s imperative epigraph to “only connect” and that we are all called to Harper Lee’s challenge that one will “never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around it”. Literature provides us with a human voice that can seize us – apprehend us, according to Professor Stephen Brown – challenge us to connect with the world beyond ourselves; it provides us with consolation that we are not alone.
Such consolation that lies with literature reminded me of this year’s Loreto value of Freedom. We have commenced our year by reflecting on the Loreto Freedom prayer and what the value means for us as individuals; at year assemblies held for our Year 10, 11 and 12 students, we asked the girls to consider how their own actions this year might embody the value of Freedom. As we consider this value and the lives of our students it becomes apparent that a tremendous challenge lies before us all. How are we going to utilise our opportunities, the privilege of our freedom to be educated in a world that doesn’t provide such freedoms for all, to understand and connect with the world beyond us? What power comes with a Loreto education; how will this power that we hold enable us to apprehend the world around us and instigate change?
The power of human connection is immense, and it is through education and the wealth of knowledge that is at our students’ fingertips that we can connect. Our students are in a tremendous position of privilege to be able to harness their freedom for the greater good. It would be negligent of their adult role models not to challenge them to harness their freedoms to make a difference in the world. Our school community is challenged this year to “only connect” – to utilise their freedom to enact change and make a difference.
Ms Kieryn Bateman
Acting Director of Learning