The Future Is Now

I extend a warm welcome to all in our community as we enter Term 3. It is hard to believe we are already half way through 2018 and there is still a lot to look forward to for the next semester.

I am excited to launch this new regular blog, allowing me to connect with our community on a range of topics, from events and School news, to the latest developments in the world of education.

As we prepare for another busy term, St Stephen’s School staff recently took part in three days of professional development at our annual Staff Expo.The theme of this year’s Staff Expo was Staying True: Moving Forward. This is very fitting as we hold on to the roots of the School while looking to the future, in line with the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan.

The future was a stand-out theme in the presentations and workshops. We were lucky enough to hear from Futurist Gihan Perera. His entertaining talk and workshop had us all in awe of the challenges facing our next generation.

He talked about the “fast, flat and free world” and how the Internet and digital technologies have changed the shape of our future. The questions our students are being asked now may be the same, but the answers are different as they keep up with the ever-changing world.

The idea of transdisciplinary thinking was one of the skills our students will need for future success. This can be explained as “possibility thinking” where the answer will more often be ‘yes, and…’ instead of ‘yes, but…’. It is taking ideas from one discipline and using them in a different space; “being Pong thinkers in an Xbox world”.

We need to retrain ourselves to ask the younger generation what problem they want to solve in the future, instead of what they want to be when they grow up.

I have read several resources that say many of the jobs our students will work in haven’t even been invented yet. This is a confronting thought and one at the forefront for our staff as we ask how we can prepare students for said future jobs and industries.

An article posted by Huffington Post several years ago still rings true as it explains the knowledge world is no longer divided into ‘specialists’ and ‘generalists’. The author introduces a new group of ‘versatilists’ who are capable of constantly adapting, applying skills to various situations, building relationships and assuming new roles.  

It quotes columnist and author Thomas Friedman in saying that the most important competition is no longer between countries or companies but between ourselves and our imagination.

Turning from this expanded view to one that focuses on our own School, the various pathways, a focus on service and giving students’ agency all fit with the ideas discussed. We strive to develop resilience, curiosity and a realistic view of self among our graduates, equipping them with the inherent skills needed to succeed in these unknown spheres.

Our staff were also lucky enough to hear from, among many others, UnitingCare West CEO Amanda Hunt on how to put people at the centre of all that we do, Perth Wildcats captain Damian Martin’s stories of progress and leadership, our own Service and Global learning advocates, Yellow Ribbon Project founder Jade Lewis on her personal story of resilience and facing fears and Uniting Church in WA General Secretary Reverend David de Kock.

Armed with this information, we roll into Term 3 filled with enthusiasm.

What better way to bring in the new term than with the secondary cross-campus musical of Grease. I have had a few sneak peaks at the production our talented students and teachers have been working hard to put together and, let me tell you, it’s sure to be entertaining, fun and colourful, just like the beloved original! We have even had some alumni return to take part and dedicated parents working to bring the 50s hit to life on stage. I hope to see you there – tickets are selling fast so be sure to grab yours here:

This is followed by our annual Parent Symposium. This year we focus on Futureproofing your parent-child relationship. We have parenting comedian Lucy Ewing warming up the crowd with her hilarious anecdotes followed by experts Clark Whyte and Dr Adrian Lopresti who share the secrets to building a lasting bond. This is a public event and there are only 250 tickets available. Find out more here:

We also have a term filled with camps, athletics events, swimming lessons for our Primary students, Book Week, an exciting Science Week line up, Grad Day celebrations for our Class of 2018 and more.

I look forward to seeing you all very soon. As always, my door is always open.

Mrs Donella Beare