Dean’s Address – 2014 Formal Assembly

In preparing this speech, I found myself reviewing the year via the Year 10 blog. It is remarkable scrolling through the achievements and stories of this year level and I’m very proud that we have that online hub to store our memories. Part of what I post up there is our Dean’s Assemblies. And reviewing those it gives us a pretty good idea of what our year was all about.

In those assemblies we’ve continued to aspire to the face of success, we’ve looked at goal setting, we’ve talked a lot about digital citizenship and being safe online, we’ve brought back the school song, celebrated sport and heard about some extraordinary success, we’ve talked more about digital citizenship, and we’ve done some cooking, we’ve given out endeavour awards, and I’ve tried to stop the offensive use of the word ‘gay’.

Finally and most recently we’ve spent time preparing for exams with Dora the Explorer and it’s now almost time to celebrate the successes from those exams and indeed the year as a whole. I’m thrilled with the number of people we’ll acknowledge shortly for their levels of personal excellence and service to the school. I’m also eagerly anticipating tonight’s junior prizegiving where so many of you will be celebrated for your high academic and all-round performance.

But first, tradition tells us that at this point in the year we need to review the year through the selection of three role models that have failed to show us the light in 2014. At this point in 2013 we laughed at Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian for failing to be successful role models. It was a chance to review the year, find out a little bit more about what I think about popular culture – and an opportunity to share a bit of wisdom as well.

This year I’m going to start with Jaden and Willow Smith. I don’t just want to highlight these guys because ‘After Earth‘ is probably the worst film ever made, and Willow’s ‘whip my hair back and forth‘ caused me a significant neck injury back in 2010. I’m more referring to their opinions which have caught the public eye this year. I don’t know where these kids are getting educated, but wherever it is – it’s certainly not working. (See this link for some of the interview’s highlights)

My second fail model is a man many of us would look up to. I certainly did and to an extent, still do. But much has changed this year. I talk a lot in Dean’s Assemblies and what not about decisions. Challenging you to have the agency to mean what you say, and mean what you do because what you say and do matter. Making positive decisions around your actions is such an important part of getting things right.

For Aaron Cruden, 2014 has contained some bad decisions. I really admire Cruden for a lot of what he does. He was a role model in the way he conquered testicular cancer back when he was 19, he has been resilient in the face of career impacting injuries and I believe he’s the AB’s best 1st Five. Barrett is much better as an impact player off the bench. There’s no doubting Dan Carter’s class, but he’s still well off the pace at the moment and is getting far too much generosity from the coaches and media.

Cruden’s poor decision this year was a drinking session the night before the All Blacks flew to Argentina. He missed the flight and was subsequently dropped from the team. He is yet to fully redeem himself and regain the mana he once had. While this isn’t the first All Black alcohol-fuelled incident – Dagg, Smith, Guilford… etc – it’s just such a stupid decision – from someone with so much promise to be a positive role model. While Willow and Jaden are probably long gone, Cruden is redeemable and I hope this is the last poor decision we hear about from him.

My last fail model, – sorry to Kim Kardashian who can’t be nominated two years in a row – is not a person, but an sporting organisation. FIFA. I hope you enjoyed the Football World Cup in Brazil this year and you got to watch a few games and some stunning football.

I’ve picked FIFA, not because I have any issue with football – it remains the worlds most beautiful, popular, and cherished sport, but because of what John Oliver exposes here. He unpacks issues surrounding FIFA’s corruption and uncovers some concerning elements of the World Cup. He relates this to the sausage principle – the theory that is you truly love something never find out how it was made. If you love sausages – do not ever google sausages. If you love football – never try to understand the inner workings of FIFA.

Those are my three fail models because I believe in 2014 they are making negative choices.

You guys are growing up so fast and it’s an honour to work beside you and help you to make more positive choices. The big wide world is coming at you faster than you think and provided you make good choices and good decisions then who knows what you will be capable of achieving. Today we acknowledge the culmination of good decisions and choices. From maintaining successful levels of personal excellence to contributing your services in various ways around the school. I’m proud to be your dean and it’s a pleasure to celebrate success with you today.

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