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From the Director of Teaching and Learning

Found in: Leadership Blog

This is a message Mr David Elsing, Director of Teaching and Learning, shared at the Secondary Campus during Assembly this morning:

Good morning students, staff and parents, before we can answer the question of “what is education for?” – we must answer "Who is it that we educate?".

The first thing about MCC, our foundational belief is that you have the “Imago Dei” – you are in the image of God. That means God has made you to be like him and to have dominion over this world. You have a body, a mind, a soul and spirit. This used to be what our society thought about you. However, society has changed the way it views you…

It now views you as consumer. Your primary function, says our world, is to buy products aimed at teenagers. Believe it or not, the word “teenager” was first used in print in America in 1941. What did they call teenagers before 1941? Young man, young woman.

I believe that the modern notion of the “teenager” is an unhelpful myth, allow me to explain. The teenage years are often viewed as a 10-year holiday from responsibility – time to muck around and have fun rather than a time to grow and prepare for being useful and effective adults. Indeed, society has very low expectations of you. Society expects irresponsible, rebellious, foolish, and emotionally driven choices without thought of the future. Society expects you to be mesmerised by your screens for hours on end. A whole generation of wandering zombies drained from sleepless nights of snapchat, fortnight and Halo 5. Society expects that you won’t pray or read the bible. It expects you to not care about God.

Society expects you to take the easy way out. Anger is wrong and easy. Controlling temper is right and hard – they expect you to get angry.
Mucking around is wrong and easy. Trying until you understand is right and hard – they expect you to muck around. Is your highest level possible, only what comes easily to you? Will you level up in life if it takes hard work?

Unlike the society in which we live, we want an ethos here where you are treated as young adults and take responsibility for your own actions.

So, what is stopping you now? One thing stopping us is our extreme vulnerability to low expectations. When we have satisfied culture's meagre (very small) requirements we stop pushing ourselves. One example of the way we have stopped pushing ourselves is with reading. Dr. Margaret Merga in her 2015 study concluded that most high schoolers give up reading because they believe that ‘they can read now’ so why bother reading. Parents and teachers don’t prioritise reading like they had in primary school so reading drops off. So you get a generation of adults whose pinnacle of reading came when they finished “Ninja Farts - The Disgusting Adventures of Milo Snotrocket” Or "Adventures of My little pony – star wars edition”.

At MCC, we know that reading is enjoyable, that reading improves your writing, reading helps you to reflect, make meaning, connect and create your world. That is why from Term Two, we are going to introduce Silent Reading into the timetable for Years 7 – 10 for one period a week. We hope and expect you to immerse yourself in the Library (more books are coming) and we expect you to read hard books, because this is a school of intellectual courage. This is a school that reads.

One of the features of Silent Reading will be the notion of a device free zone. We are offering you a time in your weekly routine where silence and quiet reflection is abundant. These times are precious in our media saturated worlds. We are also going to be holding a class in making a good argument, logic, rhetoric and philosophy. This lesson will also be one period per week in Years 7 - 10.

At Mundaring Christian College, we don’t teach teenagers, we teach young adults. There is only one option. We have high expectations of you.

To close off my talk, here are some examples for us to consider:

  • George Washington – Captained his first ship at the age of 12
  • Alexander the Great – founded his first colony at age 16
  • Mary Shelley – wrote Frankenstein at age 19
  • Joan of Arc – commanded an army at age 13
  • Louis Braille – a blind young man who wrote a language for other blind people at age 15 (Braille)
  • Nadia Comanenci – received a perfect 10 in Olympic Gymnastics at age 14, youngest ever to do so
  • Jordan Romero climbed Mount Everast at the age 13
  • Laura Dekker sailed solo around the world at age 14

God has given you the strength, the courage and gifts required to do hard things. He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to rescue us from death and now offers us the good life – which we take to mean friendship with God. Friends, let us take Timothy’s encouragement seriously: Let no-one look down on you because of your youth. Let no-one have low expectations of you because you are young. Do hard things. Because God is with you and God is for you.

Mr David Elsing
Director of Teaching and Learning