As some of you are aware I was recently invited by Bond University to a business breakfast at the QT hotel. The guest speaker was Sir Bob Geldof - the controversial co-founder of Live Aid and Live 8. Geldof was something of a ragamuffin hero to many of my generation, but has not been without his share of criticism, and I was curious to hear from the man himself.
Geldof’s talk was incredibly wide-ranging, and (not unexpectedly) hugely challenging, however in essence, he suggested that what characterised the worst of the Twentieth Century (the wars, the poverty, the economic depressions, the environmental crisis) was what he called “deathly competition” - the unalloyed beating of others at all costs. This model of “deathly competition” has not worked, he argued: wars have not ceased, poverty is still killing children, and not even the West has managed to irradiate economic recession. What Geldof suggested is needed, is a different paradigm - one “not of competition, but of coalition, cooperation, compromise.”
There is something deeply inspiring about this model. Like all models, it is probably too simplistic, but from a Christian perspective, it reflects immense wisdom such as, say, Proverbs 31, in which the woman of noble character both “sees that her trading is profitable” and simultaneously “opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
And this model made me think: what might this mean for Emmanuel?
Well, it wouldn’t make me want to drop the competitive - for one thing, I love sport, and Queensland’s assessment system is competitive; and for another, without Bob Geldof’s fiercely competitive streak, Live Aid would never have happened.
However, it would mean that if we are to enable our students to thrive and become genuine world-changers when they graduate, the teaching of benevolence will need to be resourced and supported with just as much rigour and professionalism as the teaching of competition.
We already do much in this vein - especially through our commitment to Service Learning and our Character, Religious and Ethical Learning programs. Furthermore, we actively promote the inclusion of social justice modules in subjects from Humanities to Drama. It is also why we have teamed up Mission Educate and staff from The University of Western Australia to organise our National Global Education Forum this week.
However, there is no doubt, more we could and should do, and that, for us, is an incredibly exciting Challenge which we will share more about in the next newsletter.
On a completely different note, over the last twelve months a number of parents have asked to see me and chat about school. Inevitably, it is very difficult to see all of you during the school day, so we thought we’d organise a Twilight Tea next month. Please feel free to join me on Friday 12 June from 5.30 - 7.00pm for light refreshments, a chance to ask those more general questions that have been nagging away at you, and an opportunity for feedback.