Powerful Learning

14 November 2018

Integrity, Migration and Remembrance

Integrity, Migration and Remembrance

'we saw travellers like us wearing poppies, wreaths laid to remember the fallen ...'

A few weeks ago the Prep girls gave a Values Presentation at Junior School Assembly. Re-enacting the Chinese Folktale The Empty Pot, they reminded us about the importance of Integrity: one of our School values. Their message was strong and concise, urging us to remember that Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. It was a great way to start the day with words of wisdom from some of our youngest girls. I stood talking with a group of proud parents at the end of Assembly and we reflected on the confidence and focus of the girls in delivering their important message. 

Last Friday a number of people from across our community joined the Year 5 girls who are currently exploring migration through their Collaborative Learning Investigation. The girls are capturing the story of a real-life migration experience, but one not connected to their own family, immersing themselves in a historical and personal story telling experience. I viewed this first hand on Monday when Saskia, Julia and Audrey interviewed my parents. The girls showed amazing skills in navigating memories from over 50 years ago, while not straying too far from their task. It was a very personal and respectful experience, with the girls prompting ever so gently and my parents clearly enjoying every moment of it. We look forward to hearing the retelling of the story of Don and Pauline, the ten pound poms who migrated for a better life for their children. My parents have remarked a number of times since about the skill of the girls in leading the conversation and their ability to listen, question and reflect. I’m not sure who I felt the most pride for; my parents for their bravery in travelling to a land of the unknown so long ago, or Saskia, Julia and Audrey for their maturity and skill in leading an interview. It was a special moment and one so often created in our classrooms. 

On Sunday I was driving from Adelaide to Melbourne with my parents. At 11am we stopped, literally in the middle of nowhere for a minute of silence. We then continued on our way, listening to Radio National, hearing about the impact of war a century ago on small farming communities. As we meandered through small towns, ones still joined by the major highway, we saw travellers like us wearing poppies, wreaths laid to remember the fallen, and new memorials erected to note the centenary of the Armistice. We saw the final moments of one small ceremony; a touching moment. It was a sombre drive across the dry sweeping plains as we reflected on the importance of peacemaking. Martin Luther King said 'Those who love peace must learn to organise as effectively as those who love war.' Wise words that we desperately need to act upon as a society in this modern age.

The eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month is a symbolic marker to the end of the bloodiest conflict the world had known at the beginning of the 20th century. On Tuesday at our Senior School Remembrance Day Service the Year 11 girls provided perspective on the enormity of the human costs of World War I: 

  • 70 million soldiers mobilised worldwide 
  • 1,567 days of warfare over four years
  • 13 million people died during the conflict
  • 20 million were severely wounded 
  • 8 million returned home permanently disabled.

These statistics are a testament to the grim legacy of war. 
‘The change went too deep for outward rejoicing. Life continued as usual, except for the cessation of actual fighting. The sound of guns ceased - the gates of the future silently opened.’

Charles Bean, Australian War Correspondent

This week as a Nation we have paid deep respect to those who served, and those who continue to serve, our nation. They have truly earned our respect and made us proud. And we have enjoyed the fruits of the 'gates of the future' opened by their grit, resilience and determination.
Over the past few weeks some of our Senior School girls have been working with Artist in Residence, Juliet Collins, to create a collaborative project addressing the themes of remembrance, commemoration and peace, as part of the Boroondara Community Grants funding for Armistice Day 2018. We look forward to unveiling this thoughtful and detailed artwork Picnic for Peace on Friday.
'Lest We Forget.'

Ms Linda Douglas