Calvin’s Got Talent

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Our school program is designed to foster a heart of service to others, especially those we do not know. We desire to build an empathy mindset through programmed events and enterprise opportunities.

Identifying compassion as a core value anchors service to others as a priority in our culture. Compassion is an expression of empathy for those we do not know. Friendship is caring for those with whom we are already in relationship.

Jesus called us to live to serve the most vulnerable in our community and around the world.

The evidence of a heart for service is a willingness to bear personal sacrifice and inconvenience for the benefit of others.

The evidence of a heart for service is a willingness to bear personal sacrifice and inconvenience for the benefit of others.

For this reason free dress days are not considered a legitimate service event. Purchasing the opportunity to avoid wearing school uniform is a win/win transaction infused with an element of bribery. Money is desired to assist a charity and many students would prefer not to wear the uniform. Free dress days are a fundraising event, not a service event. Donating money and having to wear uniform would have a greater measure of charity expressing a heart for service. The school stopped free dress days for fundraising to emphasise that service and fundraising are different.

Fundraising transactions for charity are widespread in our society. Purchasing raffle tickets is effective fundraising. So is selling cakes at recess and lunchtime. In the coming weeks, our students will assist Legacy to support families of service personnel by selling badges at shopping centres. These are perfectly legitimate activities in support of valuable causes.

Running fundraising activities is not a pathway to fostering a heart of service. People with a service heart probably donate.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 15-30) and the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19: 11-27) Jesus tells stories of profitable investments that can be used for kingdom purposes. An essence of these parables is that faith requires and produces increase.

The school stopped free dress days for fundraising to emphasise that service and fundraising are different.

‘Calvin’s Got Talents’ is a service learning project with a fundraising focus that recruits initiative and enterprise in the service of helping others. This program sits within the ‘Faith and Life’ curriculum. Students are given $10 by the school as a starter amount to engage in some enterprise that will create a greater return that they will donate to a charity of their choice.

There are numerous benefits to the program, including fostering a personal connection to a charity, promoting enterprise, encouraging teamwork, and helping students to focus on people less fortunate than themselves.

Most importantly, especially for people of faith, is the opportunity to invite God to bless the project and bring greater increase. Many of these initiatives become a testament to God moving in partnership. The investment of students’ time, energy and emotion moves the program to more than a transactional event than just simply fundraising. While we hope for a financial return to bless others, our goal is the deposit into the hearts of our student’s that will be made through the program.

Iain Belôt – Principal

Imagination and Reason in Book Week

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Book Week was embraced this week at Calvin as we celebrated the most powerful gifts in our culture—the written word and the ability to read.

Our celebration contributes to assisting those who are without the privilege of the literacy that you as a reader and myself as a writer are engaged in. Some of our initiatives contribute to increasing indigenous literacy beyond the 3 in 10 ratio of students who meet national minimum standards in literacy in the Northern Territory.

Reading empowers us to command critical moments in our life.

Reading empowers us to command critical moments in our life.

The Primary School was bathed in colour and creativity for their Book Week Assembly.  Impressively, many students and staff donned costumes for the occasion. I was delighted to present a number of medals to students for achievement in the Premier’s Reading Challenge.

We must nurture creativity, imagination and reason as vibrant intellectual abilities that complement each other. To that end, the works of C. S. Lewis were featured this week. To many, myself included, his works reveal his distinction in the fusion of the imagination and reason.

‘Lewis’ books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies.  The seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia, first published more than 60 years ago, have sold the most – estimated at 150 million copies – and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio and the movies. Since 2001, Mere Christianity (1952) has sold 3 million copies and The Screwtape Letters (1942) 2 million copies.  It is estimated that annual sales of Lewis’ books range as high as 6 million copies. In all there are 110 authored or edited books by Lewis and about 300 books that discuss him and his work, with additional new ones published every year, many as bestsellers. The combined box office sales for the three Narnia films so far total $1.5 billion, and the film series is the 24th highest grossing of all time’.

A Christian School community must equally value reason and revelation.

‘Until the Harry Potter series, the seven novels of Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia book series were the most influential children’s books in the world, voted so by successive polls of parents, librarians and teachers, and by their sales. And the Potter books haven’t cut into Narnia’s market. Indeed, they’ve greatly expanded it as sales of Narnia have increased by 20% during this time’. (Independent Institute website)

There are four great contributions C. S. Lewis has made to literature and culture.

  1. Lewis showed that reason is the anchor of faith. By presenting a defence of the Christian faith that appealed to reason, Lewis removed obstacles to faith that most people in our world face today.  By restoring reason to its rightful place, Lewis showed how Christianity could appeal to those earnestly seeking answers to the great questions of life.

  2. Lewis punctured the pretension of modern elite intellectuals. Lewis revealed that one’s own reason cannot be trusted if humanity is solely the product of random-chance evolution. Lewis tied faith and reason together, where Christianity is both faithful and rational.

  3. Lewis noted that ‘Reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.’ (1939) The concept of story or narrative was crucial for Lewis. He showed that Christian imagination could expand our sense of what is possible. Christian imagination could re-enchant a world that has been disenchanted by the limited possibilities of modernism and scientism. He showed that speaking about God in non-religious terms is vital, making the truths of Christianity fresh and novel.

  4.  Lewis restored a Christian vision of humanity—the eternal destiny of every human being. As a result, he fought against the dehumanising aspects of modern culture.

As a Christian school, we should champion the legacy of C. S. Lewis that reconnects reason and faith, and that allows a triumph of Christian inspiration and imagination in our students.

Iain Belôt – Principal

Making a Great Education

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I have been presented this week with some occasions to reflect on the joint roles of revelation and inspiration as key elements of what makes a great education. 

Every Tasmanian independent school is required to meet regulatory standards established by the Minister of Education and as overseen by the Schools Registration Board. An extensive audit is undertaken every four years. A host of documents are presented in advance and then a formal visit is made to confirm that we meet the standards. Our official visit was last Monday. It went well. Our documentation and programs were described as impressive. 

The technical and scientific elements within teaching and learning must be met. There are vital foundations to establish and progress benchmarks to observe. All are valuable and necessary. Great technical skill is admirable, but it can still be without a soul. 

Great education exists in the inspirational moment that transforms. Such moments are life-changing.

We deliberately write curriculum, plan camps, organise excursions, conduct assessments and create service opportunities with an eye to impact. We consciously aim to create personal growth, skill development, and knowledge creation. We intentionally design to place our students in the place of greatest opportunity. 

Great education exists in the inspirational moment that transforms. Such moments are life-changing.

  • The moment a formula comes alive in Mathematics. 

  • That moment in Chemistry when an equation becomes a powerful tool, not a chore. 

  • A particular page when literature sings poetically of the human soul.

  • When history becomes more than dates and dead people.

  • The note when music comes from inside you, not the instrument.

In the same way a songwriter tries to write a top ten hit with every composition, we as a teaching staff endeavour to make transformational learning experiences every day. Not every lesson or experience is a hit. Almost all have great value. Occasionally, something will be mundane. But rightly understood, all experiences do have value.

In the same way that great musical hits ‘just happen’, the real moments of transformation in a school are largely unpredictable. There is no conflict in seeking to establish revelation and inspiration amid great planning and deliberate skill building. Without these foundations, inspiration can only be vitally imagined then doomed to remain formless in reality.

As a pastor, Martin Luther King was trained in the art of writing and delivering sermons. His speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 was no doubt well written. But towards the end of the speech, King departed from his prepared text on the theme ‘I have a dream’. He was prompted by Mahalia Jackson’s cry from behind him on the podium: "Tell them about the dream, Martin!" In that instant on the dais, preparation and skill met inspiration and revelation. We recall a very different speech to that which Dr King had originally penned. 

As a Christian educational community, we regularly exhort that considered, logical and reasoned thinking are equal partners with revelation and inspiration. 

Recently, Sam Muggeridge, a Calvin Year 12 student, performed in assembly. He played piano and sang with precision, virtuosity and great emotion. In his spoken introduction he offered a piece of advice to the assembly. He told them of his recent trip to a music camp in the United States. His key learning at that camp was to be yourself. Sam reminded everyone that success is anchored in authenticity. 

I am confident that Sam did not enrol in the course to learn that particular lesson. That particular lesson was probably not listed as a course objective. It just happened amongst all the learning that had been organised in his course. It was a great moment of inspiration that fostered transformation.

As a Christian educational community, we regularly exhort that considered, logical and reasoned thinking are equal partners with revelation and inspiration. 

Most powerfully, they are born out of relationship, community and commitment. There is no ‘I Have a Dream’ speech without Mahalia Jackson prompting Dr King at an assembly amidst the quest for civil rights. There is no revelation for Sam unless he is with people, doing a course in the USA, chasing his dream.

Transformational moments can be neither predicted nor planned for; however, we plan everything with them in mind. These factors of a great education are elusive and yet vital.

Iain Belôt – Principal