School is an experience most, if not all, of us have in common. We are privileged in Australia that it is a universal expectation, accessible and a priority of the nation. However, because we have all been to school, we often view it through the lens (often rose tinted) of our own experience and in so doing, form judgements and make comparisons as to its current quality, worth and standard; often concluding that contemporary education is of a lower standard than that of the past. We are fed this rhetoric by media and government on a daily basis. Having now attended school for nearly fifty years, I have concluded that nothing could be further from the truth. Schools and education are far superior today than in the past, we understand more about learning, the art of teaching is far more sophisticated, the individual needs and differences of our students are better understood and accommodated, we appreciate and articulate the link between what we do on a daily basis and the purpose for doing it, and we achieve a vast array and range of outcomes, both qualitative and quantitative.  Most importantly; schools, parents and students engage in this important and exciting joint venture, in which we all have specific roles and responsibilities.

I speak with and observe our students on a daily basis and I see them inspired, excited, involved and as active participants in the learning process. I note them embracing the opportunities offered at and through the School. I see them exhibit academic skills that my generation never developed, I see them developing a wide array of personal skills and character traits which will stand them in good stead. I see them becoming well rounded young people and well-rounded learners which will enable them to transition to the world beyond Hills Grammar and, I see them contributing to the world they will ultimately lead.  

It is to these things that we, as a School and as a school community, must commit: to a contemporary view of education, one that acknowledges that the children and young people of this generation learn differently, have different and multiple skills and are being prepared for very different futures to those which their teachers and parents were. We need to enable, not dictate, qualities of character, learning and ambition. We must be open to the possibilities of learning and to the multiple pathways they will explore and travel. Importantly, we must not judge education or our children / students according to our own, often narrow, frame of reference. Let’s instead look at things through their eyes, or in the words of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Let’s view education through the eyes of the children and young people who attend our school each day. Let’s ensure we never lose sight of the reason the School was established, and for which it continues to exist. Our shared, but different, experience of school needs to be set aside and replaced by an open and genuine commitment to our Vision and Mission and the possibilities of, and for, learning that our students are privy to day in, day out. I am committed to ensuring Hills Grammar is such a school and one where we appreciate and recognise the potential for greatness in each and every student who enters the gates. Our joint commitment to these things is a crucial contributor to the quality of the educational outcomes we achieve.

Michael Smith | Principal

Twitter: @Principal_Hills

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