Resetting our thinking and moving from managing lockdown to the daily management of the school holidays will be a welcome step for the staff and students of Canberra Girls Grammar School. The student holidays, as always, give us the breather we need. Yet again, we have shown ourselves to be a resilient and adaptive bunch. We now have permission to actively and deliberately reset our thinking to a sustainable new normal for the length of the holiday, prior to the rollercoaster of Term 4 and into Christmas.
It has indeed been a challenging term, we should acknowledge that. If we must have a global pandemic, I am very grateful for the many great moments of fun and laughter and new technologies that support the students’ learning. In her book, You’re not Listening, Kate Murphy tells us that in recent years, technology has been observed to interfere with the art of listening. And listening is the unsung hero of deep learning, knowledge retention and creative retrieval. Our devices and social media indulge our fear of being lonely by fooling us into thinking that we are socially connected, even when we are alone. Skimming and consuming have become the new reading and the new listening. They are a bankrupt version of real listening and deep learning.
Ironically, we have found that online learning, as an element of good teaching in a remote context, has required our teachers to adapt and slow down, take the steps in the learning process more slowly, spend more time on practice and repetition, and deliver lessons that demand deep thinking and learning through guided tuition.
First leading yourself and leading with grace are the themes that have been ever-present through the chapels, signature and pastoral care programs this term. Looking back in history, leaders have learned to lead themselves in and out of crises and manage the tempo of their lives and decision-making processes. Not through an overt show of strength, or the threat of aggression, but through finding the time and space – the stillness – to think through one’s options and choose the wisest course.
School holidays will, if we choose, give us the perfect opportunity to actively and consciously reset our thinking to a new normal. Take time and take a break to think carefully and deeply about where we have been and actively design the next stage. Pause purposefully, gather around those you trust and love, and move determinedly through the next few weeks. We — all of us — will be remembered for how we manage ourselves and others through this protracted pandemic. We will emerge from this experience collectively stronger. Have a wonderful holiday all!
Mrs Anna Owen