Times of change

These are exciting times for the world. As we all know, the US Presidential election has dominated the news in recent weeks. While not a unique or new event, it has been an election that has attracted the world's attention in a way that I have not witnessed in my lifetime.

Shots from across the three campuses of Woodleigh School

Interest extended well beyond those with a passing interest in politics, and on to the general population – including a great many of our students. I must admit that standing around the yard with a group of Year 9 students, reviewing the vote count, is not usual; however, it is an excellent opportunity to engage our students in the democratic process. 

I know that the election has been an essential topic of discussions in homes worldwide and, in particular, the Woodleigh Community. People have displayed passion rarely seen towards the outcome of a foreign election.

While President-Elect Biden made a victory speech, we were all wondering whether the democratic process would be compromised at some stage, and we continue to watch on with a sense of curiosity as the transfer of leadership plays out in the coming months.

The US election and many other world events over the last 12 months have provided fantastic teaching opportunities for Woodleigh teachers and our families. The word democracy is often used to describe our great country. The many issues thrown up by the situation in the 'States give us a perfect opportunity to take our kids on a deep dive into the real meaning of the word and how the machinations of the democratic process play out in times of turmoil and tension.

While many of us would share a passionate view regarding the outcome, it is not our role to tell our students what to think. Our part as educators is to encourage them to think, critique, develop their own opinions, be curious, and question the purpose and integrity of those in charge of our countries. The most crucial element of this process that struck a chord with me is the inherent value of our opinions and that we must each cherish our right to vote. We ought never to underestimate the importance of engaging with the selection of our leaders and valuing our civic voice.

Good governance, at council, state and federal level is critical to our success as a nation. The actions associated with governance require strong civic-minded leaders to act with integrity, be role models for all, and make decisions that are best for our nation – not necessarily the most popular. When I observe and listen to our students' voices, I hear people with passion, concern, compassion, and a desire to make the world a better place. I see future leaders who would act with integrity and moral fortitude. It fills me with hope for the future and hope for our country, and I hope that Woodleigh has instilled in them the resilience and persistence to take on the leadership of our communities and to always act with open minds and full hearts.

As families, I encourage us to engage with a debate around the dinner table. Question and push our thinking deeper, be curious about opposing views, and develop well-rounded and well-founded opinions. You never know, we may have a future Prime Minister within our midst or at least, the future leaders of our community.

Take care, and enjoy the discussion.