What do we want to achieve with education? What is the outcome we are hoping for? With the ‘we’, I do not just refer to teachers, but also to parents, family members and the community that help to raise children - the children that will become the adults of the next generation.
One day they will need knowledge and understanding to do their job, and to stand in careers, which is obvious, but it will be interest and passion, coupled with good values and attitudes, that will make them great in a vocation (not just a career) where they will find joy in serving others with their talents and expertise.
Recently a student (in Primary) told me he needs to learn so that he could get a high job one day; with low marks, he stated, he will only be able to get a low job. In another conversation, a student told me that his goal was to obtain an A, but at the time of the conversation, he did not want to work at all, because he did not like the task. It made me think of a little story I read in a book ‘Heirs of the covenant’ (by Susan Hunt), about three French stonecutters in the middle ages. I heard this same analogy this past week and thought it worth sharing with you.
A stonecutter in the story, negatively reported that his work was boring and backbreaking, according to instructions he receives daily. Another, working on the same job, said he was grateful to have a job to provide for his family, but that the work was repetitive - work, that he said, provided useful blocks for an architect to use. The third, when asked, pointed to a half-built cathedral, excitedly, and with a sparkle in his eyes, said: “I’m building a cathedral”.
How do we put a sparkle in our students’ eyes? If we go by this story it was not the load that was easier for the third stonecutter, but the sense of purpose, and the understanding that what he did was of value. His positive attitude and sense of joy were fueled by the knowledge that he was part of the big picture and purpose. His contribution counted.
It is not about high jobs and low jobs, but about how a community, made up of individuals that work with a sense of joy and fulfilment, serve each other – a community with good attitudes and values will be a good place to live in. If I need a doctor or plumber in my community, a shop assistant serving me, or a firefighter, I would like it to be one that loves their job, and one that will go out of their way to serve my needs. I would like others in turn, served by me, to perceive my attitude to be that too.
Every job can be a ‘high job’ and will require effort and encouragement– every student will need to develop, with hard work, their God-given gifts and talents to become that special person who a community values - and we need to work alongside them to achieve this. How? Let us praise what is of true value and let us find out more about those in the world that make, and are making, a difference for the good - then let us share that kind of information with our children. Let them be inspired- and let them aspire - to great things, and drown out’ fake news’ and shallow celebrity gossip (that often is not inspiring at all).
Parents, together we are building a ‘cathedral’, the next generation of adults, the greater community. Let us help them to find joy in working towards that bigger picture; a place where they will find enjoyment in the process of developing, and using, the talents and gifts God gave them to serve a community, not only one day as adults, but even now, still guided by others, but already important and valued.
Mrs Antoinette Wilson
Head of Primary