Welcome back to school for 2022. The first week back has been a time of joy for our students and I’m sure this joy has been shared to some degree by all staff since our students returned. At this time, when we all are experiencing varying amounts of anxiety regarding the pandemic, we need to hold on to and treasure these opportunities for joy. Schools such as Inaburra are places where joy can be found in abundance – the joy that is associated with learning, with growing, with flourishing and seeing the world anew.
At the Senior School commencement assembly, I encouraged students to be the people they one day hope to become. We become musicians by picking up an instrument and playing, even if it might be some time before we can put together something which is tuneful and melodic. We become people of love and compassion by looking out for our neighbour and doing acts of service in small, achievable ways, even if, deep down inside, our desire is still to focus on ourselves. And we become lifelong learners by being proactive about our learning, setting up timetables, using the Learning Commons, collaborating with peers, practising each day the skills we have been introduced to at school. In each of these three different areas, the persona which we adopt will feel uncomfortable at first. We will make mistakes, we will fail to meet our own personal expectations and the expectations of others, and we will ask ourselves whether or not the effort is really worth it. But in time, by persevering to be the musician, the person of character or the lifelong learner, this sense of discomfort recedes until the new persona has become our “second nature”.
What better time than the beginning of the year to look ahead and consider the future? When we contemplate the future, perhaps we are motivated to consider not just what we will do or how we will get through the pandemic, but who we want to be as people. My three examples above, as you may have guessed, are not entirely random. I hope that all of our students can develop skills and understanding in each of their different subjects. I hope that they might choose to become people characterised by the fruits of the spirit – fruits such as love, joy, gentleness and patience. And I hope they can become lifelong learners. But what is required in each of these instances is that they choose to pursue these goals and develop the perseverance to try on the “new me” until the new me and the old me become one and the same. And while this process can be hard, while it can take effort and may have its fair share of disappointments along the way, this process also brings joy – the joy that I mentioned earlier that staff at Inaburra have seen, heard and experienced during the early days of the academic year – the joy we experience when learning.
Dr James Pietsch