Positive moves welcome

21 May

Look, I know it isn’t the whole answer, but one must welcome this progressive move by St Andrews Cathedral school principal Phillip Heath, even if he is still calling himself a “headmaster”.

A college of dreams

ONE of Australia’s oldest private schools plans to establish a school for Aborigines to try to raise education standards among indigenous children.

The school will be built in Redfern or Waterloo, with assistance and guidance from St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

The curriculum will be designed for Aborigines but the co-educational school, which could begin operating as early as the start of the 2007 school year, will be open to all students.

The school is expected to offer the NSW Board of Studies’ curriculum, plus a strong focus on Aboriginal culture, arts and languages. The school will be funded by what the headmaster of St Andrew’s, Phillip Heath, described as a “World Vision notion”, with each student sponsored by either the NSW Government, a corporation or a private individual, at a cost of between $8000 and $10,000 a year. He is confident there will be no shortage of sponsors.

“I think there is a tremendous national conscience on this issue; to invest in a life and give students an education and keys to unlock their future,” Mr Heath said. “We want children to reach benchmarks and certain standards. Not in terms of behaviour, although I think that will follow, but in terms of literacy and numeracy, following the set NSW Board of Studies curriculum.”…

And then I read Miranda Devine and, oh my God!, agreed with just about every word she said. What’s happening to me? Do you think there is a cure? Not to worry; I am sure she will be back in form before you know it. She starts on The Da Vinci Code but goes on:

But the only outcome of attempts to stop people seeing The Da Vinci Code will be to increase its popularity. If the novel has “shaken the faith” of many Christians, as The King’s School headmaster Dr Timothy Hawkes and others seem to believe, then that faith can’t have been very durable. A crook meal might have had a similar effect.

There is plenty worse to get worked up about, so Christians should save their energy for other battles.

The tragedies of the world do sometimes seem so entrenched and insurmountable that good people are tempted to give up the harder challenges.

But they should take heart from stories that demonstrate the power of the individual to profoundly change a life. One such story was carried in Good Weekend magazine two weeks ago.

Geoffrey Lee, a 55-year-old Chinese immigrant who owns a grocery shop and cafe in Ermington, had always evangelised education to the “young wog kids” who worked at the shop after school, washing dishes and sweeping the floors.

Bilel Jideh, 23, a son of Lebanese immigrants, was one of those kids, and he listened. When he started his job in year 5 he met “this lovely Chinese bloke who just wanted everyone to study”.

“I had no idea what he was on about, with his talk of books. All my mates ever talked about were cars and girls – it was my prime ambition then to get into a gang, the Auburn Boys.

“Geoff was just so persistent, in a very nice way. He would talk to me about what I wanted to do and how I would get there. He would invite us over to his house for dinner. Everyone loved and respected him and his family.”…

Such stories demonstrate the ripple effect through generations of every act of kindness to a stranger. It’s energy better spent than fretting about a movie.

Mind you, she does take a swipe at Auburn Boys High in the course of that, which may well be, probably is, unmerited…

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2 responses to “Positive moves welcome

  1. marcelproust

    May 21, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    I don’t feel as keen as you do about St Andrews. They are going to grab some commonwealth government capital funding (they don’t say that, but every new private school can and does, which is part of the reason for the growth of the “down-market” private school sector), plus, apparently, some “sponsorship” from the NSW Government and even, it seems, land from them (I don’t mind so much if the Anglican church are coming to the party on that), plus, it seems, corporate sponsorship (why can’t that go to the local government school?) and use it all to shove evangelical bible missionary religion down these kids’ throats, as per the bit you didn’t quote:
    “Students will receive a spiritual message, Mr Heath said. “As a Christian school, we would offer a Christian story as the context in which this happens. That would be something people would need to respect.”
    And of course the school will be free to fire or refuse to hire staff because they are gay, lesbian, or whatever personal values it has taken a dislike to this week, and, unlike some private schools, you can bet (on track record) that St Andrews will take full advantage of that exemption from anti-discrimination legislation.

  2. Owner

    May 21, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    I know what you mean, but on the other hand, having worked in an Anglican school for four years, it may not prove to be as dire as you think. We can only hope so.

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