Sometimes in the cause of promoting the virtue of perseverance, advocates will tell the story of JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame whose manuscript was rejected on numerous occasions before she experienced success. On the surface this is a wonderful story; however, surely there is also a back story which would tell of her lifelong commitment to improvement and the gradual development of skill as an author. The Harry Potter manuscript that was eventually accepted by a publisher was, no doubt, not the first script she ever produced.
Perhaps a growth-mindset take on the cause of perseverance is better illustrated by the story of Thomas Edison. His teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made near on 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a journalist asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps in the making.”
The telling element in all of this is learning from experience; understanding what is working, identifying what is not and making purposeful incremental improvements that promote growth. Persevering by simply repeating past practice, unless a proven evidence-based strategy, will not necessarily lead to success.
As a learning community, we are committed at MCC to our core goal of leveraging learning and wellbeing growth for every student. With high expectations, we set meaningful goals and work to achieve them. We use data to understand progress, to identify high yield strategies for growth, and to offer feedback to learners, families and educators alike.
At MCC, teams form a key context for this. What we do, we do together. We amplify individual contributions by working collegially, learning from each other and maximising the spread of gifts, talents and attributes from within the team. No one of us can do it all; but together we can achieve far more for our students than by the isolated efforts of each individual. The combined effect, the whole, certainly exceeds the sum of the parts.
This is certainly the case for the ‘team’ formed by families and school. Parental engagement recognises the important role that both parents and teachers play in developing positive attitudes towards learning and education for children, building their motivation and confidence as learners, and fostering their enjoyment of learning.
MacKillop’s Parents & Friends Association met last week for the AGM. The gathering had a very positive spirit, with the incoming leadership group ready to serve our community and foster community engagement in the year ahead. During the AGM, I expressed our gratitude for the 2019 committee and the leadership of Kirsty and Hollee, Katie, Caitlin and Lisa and their many supporters.
The 2020 P&F leadership group are committed to building on their firm foundation. Next year will see around 150 new students and their families join our community, with the Year 7 group pioneering the path in the Secondary education space through which we all will follow in due course. I know all families and students will benefit from their initiates and will be keen to offer both practical and moral support. In anticipation we encourage and thank Kirsty, Paul, Katie and team for their commitment to engage us in building a strong school in support of the learning and wellbeing growth of every MCC student.
As a Catholic school, we know we do not make progress by our efforts alone. We are inspired Heart Mind and Spirit by our God of love who gives shape and form to each and every person, created as we are in the Divine image and likeness. We look to Christ and learn from him to better understand God’s vision for humanity. In a living partnership with him, we can truly become the best we can be. When disciplined in the practice of attentiveness to the promptings of the Spirit as made known in the scriptures, combined with the openness to model ourselves on Christ in prayer, we are enabled to persevere with hope.
Our year of learning is far from over. Of the 39 school weeks given us each year, we have before us 7 of which we can make excellent use. Come the end of the first week of December, as we review the growth of our students, like Edison may we say that their growth and success was 190 steps (days) in the making. And may we know that the growth achieved has been the result of the combined efforts all; learners, families and educators alike.