As we enter the second half of the 2019 school year and many of our students select subjects for future years, it seems appropriate to pause for a moment to consider the influence our teachers continue to have on our lives. I had some brilliant teachers when I was at school. Schools were very different in my day—parents were not as welcome on school grounds, let alone in the classroom and pastoral care was something my boarder friends spoke of upon their return from holidays. Yet a few teachers still loom large in my imagination, and fortunately they are the ones who had a positive influence in my learning and growth.
It is surely a cause for celebration that children are treated with respect and compassion in modern schools. Whilst teaching is certainly not a lost art these days, there is little doubt that the regard for it as a profession is becoming a lost tradition. There is a positive side to this in as much as those entering the profession in the 21st century, really do want to teach and to make a difference on young lives; it is truly a vocation.
I look at the staff at Villanova College and marvel at their willingness to give of themselves the moment they walk into the College until long after the final bell has sounded. It is impossible as a teacher not to get involved.
Of course, we teach because we love it and the rewards are indeed diverse and immense. Everywhere and anywhere, projects and events which place children at the heart and focus of our staff, have quietly happened around the College. Amidst all this activity, relationships are being developed that are healthy and constructive and yes, sometimes demanding. One simply cannot teach in this era without allowing oneself to be available, present, and occasionally vulnerable. It is what makes our profession so challenging and so rewarding. We take our work and its outcomes personally.
So, spare a thought for the teachers your children now have. They work hard, and they care a great deal about what they do, and we are so very fortunate to have such a dedicated group at Villanova College.
As Carl Jung wrote, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child”.
In the coming week, we celebrate Catholic Education Week. Villanova College must be different. Our mandate, our charter as a Catholic school demands that of us. Our only right to exist is that we be an active Gospel presence in the world, that we educate young men to go into this world with Gospel eyes, asking Gospel questions and walking in the shoes of Jesus to those he unashamedly chose to be with – the powerless and the oppressed. In the week of celebration of Catholic Education, our prayer and hope could be that in our pursuit of excellence in all that we do, Villanova will stand out as a place where credibility, inner courage, justice and courageous love can all find a very human home.
Mr Steven Bremner, Principal (Acting)