11 June 2020
These demanding times with social – distancing and extensive restrictions highlighted the importance and appreciation of human interaction. Life’s simple pleasures, such as watching the footy on a Friday night and going shopping with friends, were no longer taken for granted and as normal life is currently returning to normal, it is important to appreciate the freedom and luxuries we have.
Across Australia, many schools, including Pembroke, transitioned to an online learning format across the end of term 1 and into the beginning of term 2. Both teaching and non-teaching staff here at Pembroke School dedicated hours of work to allow this change to happen in an extremely short timeframe. The ability to adapt to change is valuable and was been exemplified by the 1600 students, countless staff and, of course, the parents of Pembroke’s community during this transition. Throughout, the staff’s commitment to student wellbeing and to delivering high quality education never wavered; we thank them for this.
Personally, the independence I developed during E-learning was pivotal regarding the time management required to complete assessments while also keeping mentally and physically healthy; a balance that becomes essential at the pinnacle of our secondary education. From online tutorial pet competitions to crazy geography hat challenges to many class Kahoots, the online learning culture that Pembroke created proved to be, without a doubt, a positive one, providing new, innovative ways to captivate students and empower them to achieve to the best of their ability.
Currently, there’s a unique biosphere in the clear waters of the Venetian canals, blue skies over Delhi and major cities across the globe are measuring the best air qualities they have seen in decades; scientists are adamant that this is a key opportunity that should be seized to reduce the effects of climate change in the longer term.
It has been inspiring to see how Australians have demonstrated their willingness to help and make changes in their everyday lives to protect the public’s health. When COVID – 19 is but a distant memory, may our resolve be to perpetuate the selflessness and gratitude that has evolved as a welcome by–product of adversity.
Never had the words of our school motto been more relevant throughout these unusual times. Ex Unitate Vires; Out of Unity, Strength.
A socially distanced life has proved itself to be eye-openingly demanding for many of us. Searching for a silver lining in the rather comfortless corona cloud can sometimes seem difficult. It’s like trying to sneeze with your eyes open; or standing in a supermarket checkout without looking at what the person in front has in their trolley; or trying to find toilet paper in said supermarket – it’s easier said than done!
If we look in the right places, our empathy and compassion can be seen now more than ever. But maybe it’s not just a question of what we look at, but rather what we choose to see. As Plato put it some 2,400 years ago, “reality is created by the mind; we can change our reality by changing our mind.”
Solitude presented a unique opportunity to introspect, to explore the often-forgotten frontiers of our inner experience, the places suppressed amid the competing clamour of our daily lives. To echo Henry David Thoreau, we learnt to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”
In the absence of noisy, passive diversions, amusements and pre-packaged life goals and lifestyles and expectations, we were relearning our capacity for fruitful monotony.
In life’s cacophony, sometimes we can get lost in its melodies, confused by its choruses. And it can be helpful, I find, to step back and remember what drew us to its verse in the first place; what rhythms do we find beautiful; which voices ring true; what beats deserve notice, which weigh heavy.
If we didn’t emerge from nature’s catharsis metamorphosised, it would have all been for nothing. Whether we see it as a crisis or an opportunity to reshape our thinking very much depends on us.
The mirror that COVID-19 forced us to look into is one without cracks. It reflected reality in its harshest form. It reflected us in our truest form. Accept its existence. Get to know it better. Like the sunrise of a quarantined city, let our own light shine but a little brighter, a little clearer, a little more exactly. Like the sun after rain. It’s optimism magnetic.
You could call it many things. Self-awareness, introspection, thoughtfulness.
I call it an education.