From the Head Master

From the Head Master

I suspect that I am not alone in finding the current election campaign uninspiring. For various reasons, our national political landscape does not favour big and bold ideas. While most of us would not want to find ourselves in the hyper-partisan USA, where the political parties and their supporters seem to inhabit different worlds from each other, there is a sense of ennui that comes in an election when it all seems a bit ‘same-same’.

Any number of factors have led us to this state of affairs and there is no single thread that can be pulled that would result in a radical transformation. Nonetheless, I have been thinking a lot about short-termism, by which I mean the tendency to consider actions and initiatives with reference to a shorter and shorter time-frame. Our electoral cycle lasts only a few years, but the incessant cycle of polls shortens it further, and the news-cycle has a brevity all of its own.

The downside of short-termism is obviously that we make decisions or take actions with a view only to the short-term outcomes and we lose sight of the long term. This is not only an issue in politics, but also in the worlds of finance and business, where the quarterly results are more and more prominent and considerations of longer-term consequences become less important.

At their best, schools are communities and organisations that are oriented to the long-term. This point seems unarguable with reference to longevity and continuity. Businesses come and go and enterprises rise and fall, but schools endure. There are more than four hundred schools in NSW that are more than a century old, but there are only a couple of dozen firms, businesses or brands of that age in the State.

The long-term focus of schools is also evident in our essential activity; that is, preparing children and young people for the decades to come. Pressures for the short-term come on schools at various points. Scrutiny of NAPLAN results abbreviates our horizon. So too do school rankings based on HSC results. Narrowly focussing on report grades or assessment marks also shortens our frame of reference.

I do not suggest that the short-term does not matter, but I am strongly convinced that we maintain perspective and gain wisdom when we force ourselves to think, plan and act for the long-term.

As an aside, I also note that a frequent companion of short-termism is selfishness. All too often our focus can be on what is good for me now, rather than on what is good for others in the long run. Our political and social life is compromised when self is the centre.

There is a proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was forty years ago. The second-best time is now.” Although planting a tree now may mean that we may never get to sit in its shade, we know that we are serving those who will benefit in the years and decades to come.

With this long-term horizon in mind, the Trinity Grammar School Foundation has started a Scholarship Trust. The intent is for this Trust to fund scholarships and bursaries which enable boys to benefit from a Trinity Grammar School education who would not otherwise be able to enrol.

The initial seeding of funds into this Trust is about to commence with our inaugural Giving Day on June 2. You will hear more about this initiative in various communications from the School over the coming fortnight. You can also follow the countdown, watch an explanatory video, and register to receive a reminder when the Giving Day starts. Click here to do so.

I warmly invite you to join with me in contributing to a long-term initiative for the sake of others.

Detur gloria soli deo

Tim Bowden | Head Master

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