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Respect: Some interesting thoughts

Posted by Mr Rod McNeill (Principal) | Found in: Leadership Blog

Last week I was speaking to our junior secondary students, and asked them two questions:

  1. Who thinks respect is earned?
  2. Who thinks respect is given?

What would you say? 90% of the students said earned.

I challenged their thinking with this scenario. Now I know there is a balance in everything I’m saying, so don’t go all right-wing conservative on me...Let's imagine at MCC where, according to your behaviour, effort, and favour with teachers, etc., we create different classes of students who were treated with different levels of respect.

Having always travelled economy and only getting into the Qantas lounge when my jet setting sister invites me...I was going to use the frequent flyer class as an example. Realising this wasn’t really their world, I settled on Gold class at Ace Cinemas in Midland.

"The New MCC system"

  • Gold Class: sit in the best seats, air-conditioned room, free cooked lunch provided, and extra help from teachers.
  • Ordinary ticket class: wait longer for class results, line up to get into class, no special lunches, seating plan, and occasional help from teachers.
  • Listen to the movie from the carpark, while standing in the sun: students who may come to school but really aren’t part of the program, can pick up what’s going on by watching others being involved, rarely included, not respected.

It was a surprisingly poignant example and affected the students. The idea of the reality of some people being respected more than others, because they earned it, became a troubling concept.

I believed that respect comes from the inherent value we place on every individual human being. I promised to treat them with respect regardless of where they stood at a particular time in reference to their actions.

We should respect people fundamentally and show each other respect. It should be a given.

When this broke down, societies dissolved into bigotry, hatred, bullying, and discrimination. Usually, those societies were held together with coercion rather than community.

Obviously, there are concepts such as being highly respected and I emphasised that trust is something that is earned and some other nuanced thoughts to throw in the mix.

I asked them to vote again and the balance changed remarkably. This is an important consideration to me: what keeps us together at MCC, as parents, staff, and students, is that we inherently value one another and treat each other with respect.

I enjoyed being with them in the lesson and hope it helped.