Principal's Blog - 7 March 2019

04 Mar 2019

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

When I was in primary school I really loved Religious Education classes. I honestly did! I loved them because we always got hear epic stories about the parting of the sea, the calming of storms, David triumphing over Goliath, the creation of the world in six days, to name but a few. I loved these stories not so much for the message or morality they were designed to send the reader, but just because they captured my interest and imagination. I also believed that because they came from the bible, they were real and irrefutable. Then many years later I studied theology at university and realised that many of these accounts were written, not based on fact, but as myths and stories written at a particular time, for a particular audience, to illustrate and point or illuminate a revelation.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed at first. I had to put aside or change my old way of reading the bible for a new paradigm. I began to read the scriptures not as a collection of stories to entertain but a series of signposts which pointed me towards an understanding of God and his message of hope, love and mercy. Learning a new way of reading, interpreting and understanding the bible opened a whole new world of understanding, an understanding that I am still developing through prayer, reflection, conversation and a bit more formal study.

What I have described to you is the concept of learn, unlearn, relearn which has become a significant educational paradigm in the contemporary learning environment. It is not anything new in one sense. We are all engaged in this type of thinking every day. Some people, however, find it more difficult to learn, unlearn and relearn than others. We all know people who are very fixed in their thinking, people who find it difficult to change their point of view, even when the evidence is clear. They are the antithesis of those with a growth mindset, people constantly challenging themselves by stepping outside their comfort zone and viewing the world through new lenses. 

Speaking with many employers across a variety of sectors, I am often told that one of the qualities they prize in prospective employees is the ability to adapt, demonstrate flexibility and shift thinking in a rapidly changing environment. In other words, to learn, unlearn and relearn. The current world of employment is one where up to 40% of what tertiary students are learning will be obsolete a decade from now, when students will be working in jobs that have yet to be created. Indeed, the top 10 most in-demand jobs today didn’t even exist 10 years ago. To say that we live in a changing world understates the speed of both the pace and the scope of ongoing change. As futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler once wrote, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

I present this concept to you as we prepare for the coming of Polaris – a new learning ecosystem which our College learning community is currently developing for implementation beginning in 2020. Whilst never throwing the baby out with the bath water, Polaris will present our community with a new way of approaching learning. It will require a degree of unlearning and relearning, and not just 'for the sake it', but to provide our boys with skills, attitudes and capabilities to meet a changing global landscape.

Charles Darwin tells us, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

The details of this new learning ecosystem are coming soon. I look forward to sharing more details with you over the coming weeks.

Mark Murphy