Navigating today

Our Year 10 students have conducted their first set of examinations in Senior School this week. We hope they have found the experience worthwhile. No matter what the field of study or endeavour, hard work is what leads to success. Professional golfer Gary Player was once asked how he came to be so ‘lucky’, as he sank another amazing putt. His reply – ‘The harder I practise, the luckier I am’ – speaks volumes about consistent, persistent and focussed effort.

Our Year 11 and 12 examinations are also underway. Sometimes described as a marathon, students have truly embarked on developing their understanding of the content and coursework for their IB and VCE studies. Remembering through active learning is the next step before applying their knowledge and understanding by answering the questions and completing the papers. Hydration, a good nutritious diet (brain food) and enough sleep are very important. Special thanks go to our VCE Co-ordinator, Connie Black, Acting IB Co-ordinator, Helen Tachas, and Acting Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Learning, Frederique Petithory, for their organisation, leadership and guidance.

‘The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.’ – Socrates (circa 400 BC)

Whether or not it was Plato or Aristotle or Socrates, the elders have always lamented and complained about modern-day youth and the breakdown in the society to which they were accustomed. I found myself saying to students the other day, ‘Well back in my day–’ but quickly stopped. I remembered the Socrates quote and realised how amazing it is that these students are able to navigate, develop and grow through such a time of technological growth and change. It takes just seconds to access knowledge and information like never before. Literally, with fingertips on our devices, we can access every sort of information we can possibly think of. This is absolutely mindboggling and an extraordinary change.

Last week a friend sent me a podcast by David Gillespie titled ‘How the iPhone rewrote the teenage brain’. According to Gillespie, the typical type of addictive behaviours associated with teenagers like smoking, drinking and drug taking are on a steep decline. There are, however, new types of addictions taking their place, including social media, smart phones and sophisticated online gaming. To quote the podcast, these are designed to appeal to teenagers and ‘with addiction in mind’. Teenagers spend hours upon hours glued to their screens and become prone to not only a number of addictive behaviours, but anxiety which can spiral them into depression. Gillespie believes these addictions have caused a sharp increase in anxiety in students. As an educator, I believe a bit of anxiety can be a good thing, but it has definitely become the most prolific illness students are suffering from. Gillespie goes on to explain that parenting has become more and more ‘student-centric’. Due to potentially both parents in the workforce and time becoming more limited and valuable, parents are more reluctant to upset their children by being firm or saying ‘no’. As the Principal wrote in the Newsletter on 7 March, Maree Crabbe’s research shows that 90% of teenage boys have seen online pornography. The dangers of students being misinformed and putting themselves at risk in the cyberworld is certainly raised by Gillespie who states that vast numbers of companies are designing software to attract consumers to be addicted to their product. This is potentially harmful for our young people in the future. Additionally, at Carey, as with most schools, we encourage the use of screens in almost every lesson and expect students to use their devices at home to research and complete their homework. However, in my recent experiences in the classroom, if I am having any technological issues with my device, students come to my aid within seconds and are able to fix the problem for me almost instantaneously. Their incredible saturation of technology and use is impressive.

As with many issues parents and teachers face with students today, we can potentially be reminded of when we were young. I can remember begging my parents to stay up and watch the A Team on the television, but more than often was sent to bed. Parents will find boundaries to ensure a balance is found in the household, between screen time, other activities and day-to-day practice. These boundaries could include phones being kept out of the bedrooms when it’s time to sleep and logging off all social media when studying. One of the best discussions I had with a parent recently was when we were talking about Schoolies and the dangers associated with students celebrating after their studies. The parent said, ‘We hope we have guided our children and set boundaries when appropriate. Now we are confident in the morals and ethics we have taught them at home and they have learnt at school we can trust them to be the people we know they are. It doesn’t mean I won’t sleep a wink Mr Gregory!’

Christian Gregory
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Welfare