From the Head of Senior School

Much is made of the 21st century and the rise of a series of disruptive forces that characterise an increasingly giddy world. Indeed, Associate Professor Rufus Black (Futurist, Ethicist Theologian and Master of Ormond College) identifies six key disrupters as being responsible for the precariously balanced axis on which our planet currently spins. The first of these is Globalisation which, in turn, has been realised (and hastened) by Digitalisation. These two forces, when combined, are inevitably creating vast chasms of Inequality. But (and here’s the thing) the failure to actively engage inequality has catalysed the growth of Populist Politics and the rise of Non-State Actors, whilst the challenges of Scarcity continue to grow at an alarming rate – a depressingly neat scenario any way you look at it.

It is little wonder then that the fundamental job of educators and leaders must be to provide a narrative of hope, capable of transcending the often-bleak parameters of our modern human experience. And it is to hope that I shall return, in due course. For disruption need not be apocalyptic; rather it can be innovative and reflexive; dynamic and fleet of foot as demonstrated by the six key Digital Disrupters that Rufus Black identifies as having changed the way we interact with the world. From Amazon which is bigger than Walmart and gaining traction, to Airbnb which has more rooms in more countries than the largest hotel chains; from Uber which boasts the largest fleet of taxis in the world, to Netflix which has heralded the end of television broadcasting as we know it; from iTunes which has singlehandedly transformed the music industry, to the iPhone which contains more technology than that which put men on the moon… we are unwitting agents of disruption whether we recognise it or not.

But sometimes the best disruption takes a more modest, more human, approach as Happiness Week at Senior School last week demonstrated. With the days getting shorter, and low cloud descending, it was a ray of sunshine co-ordinated by the School Captains, in an otherwise increasingly grey landscape. But in reviewing all the activities (and there were many, including a Jumping Castle on Friday that thankfully remained firmly rooted to the ground!) the students overwhelmingly rated Wacky Sock Wednesday, ‘Careyoke’, the (calming) presence of Guide Dogs in training, and the programming of music by International Students in the Quad as their all-time highlights. And these did not cost a thing. Instead, they affirmed what we know to be true – that hope can take a myriad of forms and that a bit of disruption can be a beautiful thing.

Natalie Charles
Head of Senior School