Dean’s Assembly – When It Gets Hard

Looking forward there are a number of events on the calendar.

Today though I want to look back… Last week I had a privilege of traveling to Auckland with a few other staff members to attend a teacher’s conference called uLearn. There were almost 2000 teachers there to listen to international speakers, and participate in workshops and seminars on a huge range of topics. It was absolutely inspiring.

Education is changing. And you all are part of this. These are things that you’ve probably heard me say before, or things you might have heard around the place, but they are worth repeating:

In the future, by 2030 when you are all about 40 years old 2 billion jobs that currently exist will have been eliminated. This does not mean that there will be less jobs  – when there is a void, they will be replaced. These new jobs, we don’t even know what they will be. We do know that a lot more people will have to create their own jobs in 2030. 40% of our current 5 year olds will be self-employed when they leave school. That is huge! There are so many things about being self-employed that are complex. There are so many skills that are required to be self-employed and a significant amount of this learning needs to take place before this happens. Innovation and creativity will be crucial in the future. Being able to problem solve and think laterally will be vital. You will not be walking in your parents’ generations’ shoes , just as your children will not be walking in your shoes.

Let me give you an example of how the world is changing. You’ve probably not as familiar as I am with video stores. When I was your age my love of cinema and film was alive and well. I would go to my local DVD store and get out five DVDs for the week as part of their 5 for 5 deal. There was no streaming services like Netflix. This little parody video takes a look at the future and how we might one day look back at those days of video stores…

Change is happening. Do you create it? Embrace it? Fight it? Ignore it?

At Newlands we are embracing it. Mr Jones has spent time talking about the changes happening in education. He’s talked about how there’s no need for an expert to stand in front of the class and tell you things because the real experts in the room are in everyone’s pockets. He’s talked about the changes happening in exams: how in only a few years exams will be online and completed anywhere, anytime. Teachers are changing in your classrooms, doing things differently. Next year we are a bring your own device school. We are currently rewriting the vision of Newlands College. A steering committee is investigating structural changes that will improve your access to teaching and learning before you leave school. 

All this change leads me to the thing I want to share with you today. And that is an apology. I am so sorry Year 11. I have done you an extreme disservice. Today I want to right the wrongs of the last 2 years and 9 months and beg for your forgiveness. Today I want to apologise because I’ve been making things too easy for you.

  • I’m sorry for being available for you, and being the Dean’s room when you come looking for me and helping you with any of the different issues you’ve come to me with.
  • I’m sorry for having long chats with many of you about your careers, subject choices, your learning and trying to help you achieve better.
  • I’m sorry for the Year 11 blog. For making a place for you to share media, success and news. I’m particularly sorry for posting all the information about all the exams over the last few years & all the study help I’ve given you.
  • I’m sorry for the Year 11 Study Hub where I collated all the information from the different subjects you all take and put it all in the one place so you and your caregivers can access information about your achievement and help you to succeed.

I’m sorry because all of this has made things easier for you. And today I’m scared that you don’t know what to do when it gets hard. Today I want to talk about what we do when it gets hard. And hopefully I can make up for some of the extreme damage I’ve been doing by making things easier for you. 

what we knowIn today’s world It’s not how much you know… It’s about what you do when you don’t know.

As a result, if you aren’t taught how to get through hard times – if people are constantly going to help you and make things easier, then how are you going to learn resilience, persistence, the ability to persevere when it gets tough, the capacity to get through the hard times.

The problem is it’s not just me that is making things easy for you. Think about any aspect of your life. Everything is about making things easier. Take cleaning products for instance. Back in the day cleaning products – this is pre-cursor to next year’s ‘Cooking with Cargill’ – were about elbow grease. You had to really put your back into it to get any purchase. Hence we still use the phrase “elbow grease” for any hands on labouring task that requires you to really dig in. However, they then made things easier with spray and wipe, no rubbing required. Then they went further and gave you wet and forget, you don’t even have to use a cloth! This is just one of those examples when something that used to be hard now only requires you to do half a minute of work and then walk away.

What I fear is that as a generation might have lost the ability to problem-solve. Take away your ability to google and would you be able to survive? What I hope it that you won’t turn out like these people…

To get to easy, you have to go through hard.

Sometimes students see themselves as passive participants and you need the the opportunity to learn to be active and do it for yourselves. Don’t hesitate to give things a go. Don’t automatically google something just because you don’t know the answer.  The road to success is paved with persistence. It’s about you putting in the effort, getting through the tough times and taking ownership of your learning. It’s your learning, your future.

This message is timely because you are on the cusp of examinations. You are going to have to persevere; you are going to have to show resilience. So if there’s one thing you walk away with from today let it be: if you want to wear the face of success – your are going to have to show grit, determination, and you’re going to have to get through hard.

And despite the fact that I am really sorry for making things so easy for you, I’ve still got your back. Just please don’t let me ever catch you standing still on an escalator.

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