Director of Learning
“O, wonder! O brave new world…”
A simple exclamation penned by Shakespeare and uttered by the naïve and awe-struck Miranda in his final play The Tempest still rings so true today. How is it possible that a playwright of the Renaissance, writing 400 years ago, still resonates with humanity? As my Year 12 Advanced English students immerse themselves in the wonder of Shakespeare, I am forced to reflect on many questions. What value is there in my students unpacking the language of Shakespeare as teenagers of the 21st Century? How will the analysis of Shakespeare equip them for the challenges they will face in a future unknown? Can a text that is 400 years old bring meaning and value to a world so transformed? If I, a self-confessed Shakespeare tragic, am confronted by such questions, how must my students be feeling about this quest?
As I ruminated upon these thoughts at the commencement of assembly this week, I was jolted back into the moment as I was faced with a plethora of talented students, who paraded on stage for a multitude of commendations. Our students’ achievements are diverse and comprehensive; the assembly showcased students who have engaged in complex problem solving in Mathematics and Science competitions, those who have acquired and mastered a second, and sometimes, third language, those who can bring an audience to their knees with the power of song and those who challenge all to make a difference in the world by speaking up against injustice. As I witnessed this array of talent I believe my questions were answered. I was facing a sea of Shakespeare’s ‘Mirandas’ – students who are in innocent awe of the world that they will shortly lead; young women who, through their actions and achievements, are all echoing Miranda’s words. They see our world with fresh eyes, it is most definitely a “brave new world” for them.
It is this energy, talent and awe that society needs to harness. We are confronted with a rapidly changing world, and are forever reminded that we cannot predict what the future workplace will look like. We are challenged to equip our students for the ‘dynamism and complexity at play in the future of work.’ (Foundation for Young Australians, The New Work Mindset, 2017.) Creating flexible, critical, creative, empathetic and enterprising minds is surely the key. Shakespeare knew this 400 years ago – and as the world hurtles forward with a rate of change that is unprecedented, we can turn to Shakespeare to be reassured that change is a key aspect of humanity; if we guide our students to be flexible, critical, creative, empathetic and enterprising, we can look on with a sense of hope and wonder at the “brave new world” that awaits us all.
Ms Kieryn Bateman
Director of Learning