The topic of creating life-long learners is an interesting one. What do we as teachers do in our classrooms to foster this admirable goal? What do we do in our lives, which indicates that we are life-long learners? A spirit of enquiry and an unquenchable inquisitiveness, as we mentioned last week, are key elements.
Let’s helicopter up high to have a broad look at this issue. Because one of the wonderful things about the rich tapestry of civilisations and cultures, which go to make up the family of mankind, is that each civilization makes its own special contribution to the human symphony.
When it comes to the spirit of enquiry those us born into a country like Australia, which is part of Western Civilisation, are lucky indeed.
Western Civilisation is a natural organic outgrowth of several paradigm shifting discoveries: From Egypt we get a sense of a mystical world beyond the senses and beyond the death of the body; from Judaism we get ethical monotheism, and the simple discovery that religion is for everyone, not just princes and priests; from Christianity we get self-sacrificial love of the Other.
And from Greece we get that Spirit of Enquiry, the idea of questioning things, of seeking to discover the causes of things, to reveal the underlying rules of nature.
These are of course simplifications, but they contain an important kernel of truth.
In our culture we take for granted that humanity progresses through a process of creative destruction questioning assumptions, putting the spotlight on fixed opinions, and undermining cherished orthodoxies. The sometimes chaotic rough and tumble of robust debate can appear as weakness, but it is in fact a deep strength of our civilisation, which derived these norms from the Ancient Greece of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Channeling and nurturing this inquisitive tendency, and avoiding the pitfalls of cynicism and disrespect, and fostering genuine enquiry, is a key part of our role as parents and teachers.
And Rome? Her contribution to civilisation was administrative, organisational and governmental; the idea of the state being responsible for orderly good government which dispenses impartial justice. An idea taken up and developed by the Anglo-Saxon peoples who added the idea of equality before the law even for the King!
And finally, I should like to express profound thanks from myself and Mrs Mane for the extremely generous and utterly surprising turn of events at last week’s Gala Dinner. I feel genuinely humbled, and could only deal with the situation by accepting the fulsome praise of the Chairman on the behalf of the office of Headmaster. The gift of a gold watch was extremely thoughtful and generous; and I have found an excellent use for a couple of my rather lurid waist coats this week to show it off. It probably can t be said enough, that it has been a privilege beyond words to have been plucked from a richly deserved obscurity, to be Head of such a deeply Good institution.