School News & Blog

May 9, 2015

Rites of Passage in the ‘Have Everything’ Era

The Year 12 presentation to the combined parent meeting last Friday
night was on the topic Risk Taking. The students worked in pairs and
provided humorous but thoughtful insights into why they might take risks
and the upsides and downsides to the behaviour.

I often
feel that the talks themselves create the setting for the real action in
the presentations, and that is the question time which happens after
the presentations are over.

One question from a parent
really stimulated a lot of discussion. It went something like: Do you
think that risk taking somehow replaces what used to occur in rites of
passage from childhood to adulthood that happened in indigenous cultures
throughout the world, as suggested by a leading US psychologist?

There was some consensus on that idea with two of the students commenting
that they feel everything they need is provided for them. But it made
me reflect on the rites of passage that exist in The School of Total
Education. The first to mind was pointed out to me by one of the
parents in the supper afterwards: That the traditional Year 12
presentation to parents was itself one such rite of passage.

I also believe that another set of rites of passage we have created in
the school can be found in our camps program. I was reminded of this
through discussions I had been having during the week with a parent
regarding the their concerns about the impact of a camp on the students’
academic work.

A lot of thought and planning goes into the choosing of the camps for each grade,
ensuring there is a graduating increase in challenge appropriate to the
students’ ages.

This need not always be a physical challenge. More social and less
challenging camps are part of the program. They provide a step up in
other ways, some saying to the students – now you are maturing we can
give you this type of experience because we believe you are up to it.

The camps program is seen to culminate in the 9 day Outward Bound
experience in Year 11/12 which is a clear rite of passage. It is
challenging physically mentally and emotionally. It also has what might
be called a spiritual aspect to it. It provides an opportunity for deep
reflection and a catalyst for enhanced personal growth.

But just as important is the end of year camp for the Year 12s after all
their studies are complete. They organise it themselves, with a little
oversight, and it is a week of relaxation. It is more of a reward saying
‘Well done, you deserve this.’ Another rite of passage.

So, in closing, it is appropriate to say thanks to our Year 12 students for their enlightening and engaging presentations.