Today we farewelled our Year 12, the Class of 2019. Entering the Hall at 9.30 am as Glenaeon students, they left the Hall at 11 am as ex-Glenaeon students, or GlenX.
It was a particularly beautiful assembly with some exceptional musical performances from both the music students in the group, and a choral piece from the whole year group.
In reflecting on what the school has brought them, I mentioned some of the many ”small things” that make up a Glenaeon education, the many small things that together make a large, meaningful and organic whole. Small things can have a big impact and I shared a story of how one small thing that we do at Glenaeon helped a young doctor become a better GP.
Here is the story in full: Dr Andrew Keyworth built a thriving family medical practice in the Newcastle area. He attended Glenaeon from Kindergarten to Class 7, and when I asked him to reflect on the role the school had played in shaping the person he is today, he gave me the following interesting statement. The bold paragraphs highlight how drawing helped him become a better GP:
"I really enjoyed the classical side to the Glenaeon curriculum -- the history and the mythology. More and more I feel it is important to give children a sense of their place in history and society. It seems that a lot of modern education and life is focused on the here and now, without a sense of where our society and culture has come from. There seems to be little value placed on our cultural heritage or the mystical history that we all share.
I feel that Glenaeon imbibed me with a sense of wonder about humanity and society through the retelling of a huge range of myths, legends and stories that at the time were more real than much of my contemporary world. I'd like to think that I carry this sense of wonder with me still and will be able to pass it on to my own children.
Glenaeon also changed my outlook on the physical world. As a pre-schooler I remember drawing pictures of my world with thickly outlined figures. At Glenaeon, we were taught that there really are no outlines, or boundaries that are that clearly defined. The shaded edges of objects blended and blurred with their background and everything was connected. This sense of connection, and being part of a wider world and society gave a sense of security. On transferring to a state high school in Canberra I remember feeling that I viewed the world differently from my contemporaries: I saw it without boundaries.
I'd like to think that I still look at the world in this way. It seems that when a lot of people examine a situation they focus on the boundaries, and set themselves artificial limits because that is convention. They look for the outlines, the rigid edges. For me, maybe because of Glenaeon, the edges of all situations, ideas, arguments, problems, solutions will always be shaded and blurred.
As a Medical Practitioner, this view is a great help. Many decisions in medicine have blurred edges, problems flow from one to another, nothing is isolated. I'm comfortable with this "grey area" that exists in my work, and in some ways I feel I started to develop my tolerance for uncertainty when I learned to draw trees without a fixed outline at Glenaeon.
Other aspects of Glenaeon I loved: the Craft, the close relationship and security of Class Teachers, the bush walks, the bamboo patch (alas, no more: ed.), the dams, the Annual BBQ, Artist's Holiday (precursor to the Art Show: ed.) -- the sense of school community. 25 years ago Glenaeon was blurring the traditional male/female roles: everyone did knitting, everyone did woodwork. I still knit, and enjoy watching the public's reaction as I sit knitting on the two hour train trip to Sydney.
Glenaeon's curriculum laid the foundation for how I see my role as a man, father and husband. It lifted my horizons, blurred my edges, instilled in me a sense of being part of a rich and mystical society, taught me to mix metaphors and is responsible for a lot of what I am today."