Those parents who were able to join us for our Commencement Service will already know this, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to just what society in the future might look like (click here to view a copy of my speech). This is not just the result of my holiday reading—some excellent new Science Fiction, and a host of tech-crime novels but it is also a direct result of the fact that all schools are, in reality, educating for the future.
As I said at Commencement, predicting the future is fraught with danger, but I think we can be relatively certain about a few things and one that particularly fascinates me is the ‘almost certainty’ that the world is going to continue to become increasingly multi-cultural. Even if countries try to resist via legislation and border controls, multi-culturalism will grow, because it no longer requires proximity: that is, we no longer need to live next to a person from another culture to communicate with them, we can just switch on our computers.
So how do we, as a Christian School, prepare our kids to be Emmanuel-leaders in this culturally-kaleidoscopic future?
Firstly, pragmatically, we are equipping them through the new Foundation Studies and Future Readiness Skills programs that I described at Commencement and I believe these are central.
However, we can also prepare our students by helping them develop cross-cultural curiosity and competence. This is why we have embraced the approach by the Confucius Institute (China’s language promotion body) HanBan and Griffith University to partner with us. Through
that partnership we have established our new ‘Confucius Classroom’ on campus. Confucius Classrooms are centres for the very best in Chinese language and cross-cultural skills.
We can further prepare our students through our ECPLAID Projects (EC Partnering in Learning And International Development). These Projects include our students’ Mozambique, World Vision and Thailand projects, as well as the community’s India Project. By developing these PLAID projects we can help our students to look beyond the horizon, and realise that they can be global citizens and leaders. (Many thanks to those who have already asked how they can contribute to the India Project; and for those who haven’t been able to chat to us directly, we will be adding a FAQ’s section to the web page- click here to read more).
For us, as a Christian School, preparing our students for this increasingly cross-cultural future does not just involve projects. It also involves helping our students capture the spirit (small s) of the culturally-unconcerned-compassion of the Good Samaritan, or the hospitality of Abraham and the three travellers, or the generosity of the Hebrews to Ruth’s family, who were from one of the Hebrew’s oldest enemy tribes—the spirit of Paul’s beautiful truth, that in Jesus there is no Greek or Jew, no male or female, “for all are one in Christ.”
And it may also involve helping our students understand something of the Spirit (capital S - that is, the Holy Spirit.) I have always loved the teachings which point out that Pentecost (when the Spirit came and began speaking to every tribe of the [extremely multi-cultural!] Roman Empire in their own tongue) was, effectively, the beginning of the reversal of Babel - the Old Testament story of how (through our pride) we became divided into tribes and language groups in the first place. I love these teachings because they suggest that cultural-isolationism is actually the opposite of what God wants. What he wants, it seems, is something very close to modern concepts of cross- and multi-culturalism: something where diversity adds to the richness of life, the way flavour-layers add to the quality of the best foods, yet we are still one in Him, bound by his Love. (Not that Pentecost is the only indication of this: one of the very first converts to Christianity was the non-Jewish, non-Roman, Ethiopian official; and look at the diversity of the disciples, who ranged from Galilean ‘country boys’ to Roman collaborators and others who were anti-Roman freedomfighters!).
Our new vision speaks of enabling “our students to develop the character, skills, courage and desire to affect change for the good”, and of growing “leaders with a global vision, who take Christ into their everyday life.”
It is my prayer that, with His help, our curriculum, projects and our desire to help our students sense this “richness-indiversity/one-ness in His Love,” we might just achieve this.