Learning, Service and Purpose

18 November 2022

Learning, Service and Purpose
Two student orientations were held this week, one for Kindergarten 2023, and another yesterday for Year 7 2023. The School Association also held their Term 4 general meeting last night. I took the opportunity at these occasions to reflect on our school’s mission statement: 
“To educate students for a life of learning, service and purpose, to the Glory of God.” 
The end of this short, yet powerful statement is the raison d'être for everything we do at Shire, i.e., “the Glory of God”. For in Him we “live and move and have our being” [Acts 17:28]. Whether it is mathematics, music or auto-mechanics, the Christian serves God and others through the quality and integrity of their work.

Learning is the “what” – this is the core business of an educational institution. The parents who founded Shire Christian School did not need a church or a youth ministry: they already had those. Nor did they require a surrogate family to replace their own. But modern academic education is complex and while many have successfully home-schooled it is not for everyone.

Purpose is the “why” – there should be meaning to our children’s learning, and by that I don’t just mean real-life examples of future usefulness. I don’t believe I have ever used my HSC calculus for anything since leaving school, but it taught me to grasp with complex problems, break them down into constituent bits, and to stick at a task with resilience and focus to see it through. My post-school attempts to learn Spanish have not yet given me much fluency in the language unfortunately, but I have gained much in understanding language and communication in general and I appreciate my mother-tongue of English much better for it.

Service is the “action” or the “how” – I think it was Jung who said, “you are what you do, not what you say you’ll do”. Future-focused schools don’t just consider their students at the ages of 8, 12 and 18; they envisage them at 25, 30, 40 – in industry, in politics, in sport and the arts, in a family. They say that true character is what you do when no one is watching, so what should we as a school be doing now to guide and encourage young people to be impassioned to act, and to have courage to do and say what is right when their teachers and parents are no longer around? 

The leadership has been spending time considering these rich elements of our mission statement, and how we may effectively embed them in our school’s teaching and pastoral practices in 2023 and the future.

Yours in Christ,

Mr David Stonestreet

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