Posted on November 27, 2018 / From our Principal
This week we have a special guest introduction from Elizabeth Cutter, Head of Girls’ Middle School.
I recently bumped into an old school friend that I had not seen in almost 30 years. We began to reminisce about the ‘good old days’ of high school. She began to recall our many sagas with impressive detail and as I listened to her tales of our high school days, I wondered how these challenging experiences had shaped who we were today.
When I next entered our Girls’ Middle School, I looked around and pondered the myriad of challenges that currently face our girls. Every generation is shaped by the global context around them and this generation is no different. Their world appears to be more complex than ours was. Their methods of communication have certainly changed with a saturation of social media and their sense of style is much better than mine ever was.
What I realised was that the same core truths of my youth are the same core truths of today. Each girl wants to feel that they have a place in our world; that who they are and what they do matters and that someone is actually listening to their voice.
As educators and parents, it is so easy to get so lost in the problems of today that we can miss some of the truth and beauty of our Middle School girls. When we take the opportunity to listen to their voices they speak with honesty and passion. They challenge us to reflect on our world and to address the inequities within it.
Plato is famous for saying “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” This is a long way from what I see in our current generation.
I believe that there is a real disconnect between the perception in society that our teenagers are self-involved and lacking empathy versus the reality of our young women who I work with each day in our Middle School. In a context of bravery not perfection, I see young women who are striving to address the challenges that they are presented with.
I see young women who are realising the power in their voice and actions in addressing social justice concerns such as the global inequity in girls’ education. This was evident during our recent Days for Girls action day where our Year 8 girls worked tirelessly fundraising and creating sustainable hygiene packs for women across the globe in need. The state co-ordinator of Days for Girls, Michelle Gates, mentioned that she was blown away by the continued generosity and empathy displayed by our girls here at Tintern. In particular, she said that we (both teachers and parents) should be immensely proud of the calibre of young women we are producing here. I assured her that we were.
Our Year 7 students have recently taken on-board the issue of technology waste and organised a Mobile Muster across the school to try to reduce the negative impact it is having on our environment. They have worked across the term to promote and deliver an effective environmental campaign. We have a large number of students volunteering to be part of the Duke of Edinburgh awards where they give back to their local communities in a variety of ways. Our Social Justice co-curricular group is full of passionate young supporters who worked tirelessly to organise our ‘Comedy for a Cause’ night last term. Each one of these events gives me immense hope for our future with students that are displaying gratitude for what they have, and empathy for others.
Across our pastoral program in the Girls’ Middle School, we are constantly striving to find opportunities to connect the girls to their school, to each other and find their place as global citizens. To establish fine young women who have compassionate hearts for others and feel empowered to make a difference in this complex world of ours. Based on the evidence I see, many of our girls are already leading the way.