Commitment comes in many forms.
In his book Outliers—The Story of Success Malcolm Gladwell propagated the statement, ‘researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.’
That’s proved true for our teachers, who put in countless hours that pupils and parents don’t see, working on preparation, reflection, refinement and ongoing learning.
We also believe it’s true of our students, who develop skills in and out of the classroom that they can hone for a lifetime.
In either case, it’s not raw talent that counts, it’s the commitment to continually push yourself forwards that is the foundation of success.
When I look at Wesley’s Seven Capabilities, which we see as vital to success in learning—both now and in the future—I have become increasingly convinced that commitment sits at the centre of it all. Without commitment the other capabilities will not be fully realised.
At Wesley, we also imbue in the students a sense of the tradition and history of the College. We have maintained our connection to the Uniting Church since 1923, which has unfailingly shaped our core values. Naturally, the way those values are articulated has evolved with time, but the underlying message has remained consistent: for others. That ethos is central to who we are, to our belief. And that will never change.
Of course, our commitment to building upon our traditional values never conflicts with our commitment to being innovative and focussed on the future.
This has been demonstrated most recently by the renovation and reopening of the Hamer Building as the Clive Hamer Wing—dedicated to agile, collaborative and transdisciplinary learning for Computer Sciences, Engineering, Coding, Business Ventures and Makerspace programs.
Another Wesley commitment has been towards our Pathways Program for Indigenous students.
Multiple studies have shown that there is a disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health, life expectancy, incarceration and educational outcomes. So rather than looking at the scale of the problem and deciding Wesley couldn’t do anything because we’re too small, we chose to do what we could. We made a commitment to standing up for something important.
Our 40 Indigenous scholars will influence their cousins, their neighbours and anyone else around them about the importance of an education. They will have experiences and opportunities that they may not have had otherwise, while also giving our non-Aboriginal students insights into the pride and history of Australia’s Indigenous people. Insights the non-Aboriginal students will hopefully reflect upon as they grow older and decide on the causes they wish to fight for.
As I started with a quotation, I’d like to end with one. Thomas Edison said, ‘Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.’
It was a message I reflected on as a young swimmer, training nine times a week. I also reflected on it as a Headmaster. And now that period of my life begins drawing to a close, I know I’ve definitely put the 99 percent of perspiration in. So, too, have the hundreds of boys I’ve seen graduate over the years. I’ve seen it, I’ve smelt it, and it will always make me feel indescribably proud.
Wesley College Headmaster 2003 – 2018