Director of Learning
The Purpose of a Loreto Education – Enrichment for Empowerment
At our recent Staff Development Day our teachers were challenged to consider their purpose as educators within our current global and Loreto context. They were challenged to consider the imperative asserted within our guiding document, the Loreto Educational Philosophy:
Students are empowered to grow towards responsible self-direction so that they may contribute to the good of society, of which they are members, and in whose responsibilities as adults they will share. Loreto schools are challenged “to generate an environment where Gospel values are appreciated, lived and imparted” and to provide an education which encourages growth towards wholeness and the building of a just world. [i]
Sometimes as students, parents and educators this imperative can become murky; as we attempt to navigate the turbulent waters of external pressures such as the HSC, the shifting terrain of the workplace, pressures of university admissions, societal expectations about parenting, education, health and wellbeing, not to mention the litany of global crises that we arise to each day. We can be forgiven, in the face of such pressures, for losing our self-direction and struggling with our day-to-day responsibilities.
If we as parents and educators, with our wisdom and life experience, struggle with these pressures, then how do we maintain our sense of purpose and direction in order to guide our children? How do we enrich the malleable beings within our care to grow into women who are empowered, who feel enfranchised to make a difference? We often turn to the wisdom of experts and researchers within our reach to offer the guidance we are seeking. Indeed, this week our school community did just that, as we welcomed Dr Judith Locke, psychologist and researcher into our context to share her wisdom. Judith’s advice to parents, educators and students is to foster growth in teenagers across five necessary life-skills: resilience; self-regulation; resourcefulness; respect; and responsibility. In her writing and presentations, she sets about to break these areas open and provide practical strategies for the development of each individual.
If we nuance her messaging and consider her research within our particular context, what are the key learnings for us as a school community? Primarily, it becomes apparent that the most effective education definitely takes a village; that if we are authentic to our educational model and Loreto values, if we truly stand for what we believe in, then we all need to be committed – parents, students and teachers alike – to fostering a holistic education; to supporting students to achieve balance in their lives; to challenging each other to set and maintain boundaries; to model healthy lifestyles; to actively foster strong family relationships; and to set high expectations for ourselves and others.
At times, when we hear the experts speak, it can lead to paralysis and self-flagellation. Personally, as both an educator and parent it is all too easy for me to dismiss the expert opinions because they seem too extreme, or they feel like an impossible gauntlet that has been thrown down before me. However, if we all use the guiding principle of providing our children with a nurturing, supportive, consistent and respectful environment that sets clear expectations and boundaries; if we work together to navigate the turbulent and murky waters that our world presents to us, then we will, in varying degrees and at varying rates, develop human beings who are well-rounded, empowered, compassionate and well-informed. The purpose of education is as simple and as complex as that: enriching those within our care to become empowered individuals who have the skillset and mindset to strive forward with a strong sense of identity and purpose.
And so the gauntlet is thrown.
Mrs Kieryn Bateman
Director of Learning
[i] Loreto Educational Philosophy, Loreto Australia and South East Asia, 1977, revised 1991 & 2019.