Director of Learning
Educating the Heart
During a recent taxi ride back from the airport, the taxi driver was keen for a chat and our conversation turned to the current state of Australian society and the strong assertion from the taxi driver that the people of Sydney generally lack warmth and a desire to build community bonds. When he found out I am a secondary school teacher, he quickly shifted the conversation to interrogate me about the current state of the curriculum and the focus of Australian education. I braced myself for the usual questions about the state of literacy and numeracy levels, and perhaps the school funding debate, but was startled when his predominant question was “Do schools today teach students to be dobbers?” Confused, I inquired as to why he would wonder this. He explained that there are too many people who no longer mind their own business, too many people who report others for littering, traffic infringements etc– and was that because it was now a focus of the curriculum?
Needless to say, I was a little taken aback by this unusual line of questioning. I replied in my usual conflict averse manner, explaining that whilst we don’t explicitly teach our children how to dob, we do indeed proudly teach our students to be active and responsible members of society, citizens who are prepared to speak up and make a difference in the face of injustice. And then this set me thinking…what indeed would be the outcome of an education that didn’t pride active citizenship and a strong values base at the core of its being? What would become of our society if we caved to the wishes of my taxi driver that every person should turn a blind eye?
Fortunately, we can be reassured that our students, benefactors of Mary Ward’s mission, will never be tempted to be bystanders. Our students have been immersed in an education grounded by the Loreto values of Felicity, Justice, Freedom, Sincerity and Verity. As they transition into the wide world beyond Loreto we should feel confident that they have these values as their moral compass. Indeed, each value offers our students a life checklist to live by – a ready-reckoner for meeting life’s challenges:
Such a beautiful word – offering us the potential to see the deep joy in the everyday experience – the joy in our daily interactions with humanity. What needs to be acknowledged is that feeling true felicity in such a face-paced and superficial world can sometimes feel unobtainable, but it is such superficiality that makes the pursuit of felicity all the more essential.
Justice and Verity:
Mary Ward’s mission was that all of her students would be “seekers of truth and doers of justice” – our students have been imbued with a keen sense of justice and a critical eye – they have learned to ask the hard questions and to challenge the thinking of others. Indeed, they too can be ‘dangerous innovators” as they move into the world.
Freedom and Sincerity:
It is with these final two values that I return to the query of my taxi driver. It is our duty, as role models in the lives of our students, to encourage them to be free – free to live a life that is unencumbered by the demands of others, unencumbered by the pressure to conform, unencumbered by the temptation to be the by-stander. It is our duty to empower them to live lives of sincerity – where they are true to their Loreto values and hold on to the words of Mary Ward when faced with challenge, knowing that they have the means, strength and precedent to be ‘seekers of truth and doers of justice’.
I don’t know that my taxi driver would have had the patience nor the appetite to hear me wax lyrical about the importance of a values-based education whilst battling Sydney traffic; however, what I do know, is we can be rest assured that as a community, our Loreto students will move into the world defending the right and need for active citizenship and hold true to the words commonly attributed to Aristotle “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
Ms Kieryn Bateman
Director of Learning