From the Head of Senior School

In the William Walker Oration entitled ‘The Past, Present and Future of School Improvement and System Reform’, Professor David Hopkins rightly argues that the challenge of school improvement and system reform has great ‘moral depth to it’ for it directly addresses ‘the learning needs of students and the professional growth of teachers’ whilst ‘enhancing the role of the school as an agent of social change’. As he observes, ‘it is this approach that will eventually lead towards every school being a great school’ which, in turn, will produce a ‘good society’. He concludes his lecture by reflecting on Amitai Etzioni’s ‘inspirational exhortation’ on the nature of a good society, and it’s worth reproducing that here for you to read:

‘We aspire to a society that is not merely civil but is good. A good society is one in which people treat one another as ends in themselves. And not merely instruments; as whole persons rather than as fragments; as members of a community, rather than only as employees, traders, consumers or even as fellow citizens. In terms of the philosopher Martin Buber, a good society nourishes “I-Thou” relations, although it recognizes the inevitable and significant role of “I-It” relations. The good society is an ideal. While we may never quite reach it, it guides our endeavors and we measure our progress by it.’

The 21st Century, with its emphasis on social media, digital networks, enterprise skills and rapid change, might necessarily demand an I-It transaction, but we must strive to protect the I-Thou relation at all times. There’s no doubt that learning to earn and the associated economic value currently being placed upon entrepreneurial endeavors in the 21st Century is fast overtaking the pre-vocational value of learning to be, but that can’t be where the story ends.

If I’ve learned anything over the course of this year, it’s how fortunate we are at Carey to be in a community where there is balance. Where the quest for improvement is embedded within the fabric of the school; where we are guided by a moral purpose and a shared understanding; where the good society finds true expression in the good men and women that we send out into the world; and where the ultimate I-Thou relationship finds true expression in the tiny Nativity scene greeting visitors to Senior School Reception.

May you all have a very Happy Christmas and a restful New Year.

Natalie Charles
Head of Senior School