It was so exciting to watch our Senior Production of Jesus Christ Superstar, earlier this term. The quality of the performances, the singing, lighting and sound, sets and costumes were all extraordinary. I salute and congratulate the cast and crew on an amazing show, and I am grateful for the hard work and commitment given by our Director and Musical Director.
A major production like this acts as an illustration of our whole approach to education.
A group of students take on a difficult task – at times it seems like the task may even be beyond them. The Director presents his vision, and the cast are given some guidance and suggestions about how they should proceed, but the first requirement is that they work hard towards their common goal: they must learn their lines, songs and choreography. They then need to maintain that hard work for an extended period of time. Expert help is sought when needed, and outside consultants are invited to assist. Everyone learns that they need to rely on others if the project is to come together – no one person can do it on their own. The cast and crew discover that they need to work as part of a team if they are to reach their goals, and one of the products of their hard work is that they bond, and form closer relationships. In the end, after months of preparation, they perform before an audience and, if they have done their job well, they are greeted with much acclaim. And then it is over, and the whole experience becomes a memory.
We do this sort of thing time and time again at our school, whether it is in the Arts, or in Music, in our Studies or Sports. We take on challenging tasks, we encourage the students to work hard at them, and they show us just how high they can go with the right support and scaffolding. It is not easy, but the rewards are great.
Indeed, true education is never easy. The sort of education which encourages students to be curious, to ask searching questions, to debate rationally and civilly is hard work, and requires great effort. But if we are to build a future in which citizens can challenge the status quo, defend their rights, and the rights of others, hold governments to account and participate fully in public discourse, it is essential. If we are to improve the level of public debate, and indeed the quality of our political discourse, we need to educate our children to be what Socrates called ‘knowing enough’ – about history, power, language, other cultures and beliefs, science and the arts – so that they can truly participate in choosing their own futures. And indeed, can choose their political representatives wisely and hold them to account. If we fail in this essential endeavour, our very democracy may well fail, or become a hollow shell. It is difficult, but with clear vision, and hard work, we can teach our students what it means to be a good person, and an active citizen. It is worth the effort.
Dr Paul Hicks, Headmaster