MECS Blog

Everyone can make a difference

Everyone can make a difference

Thursday, 20 September 2018  | Ben - Primary Coordinator

Teaching in Senior Primary is a real privilege and honour. It’s an important time in a child’s life when they are moving into their teenage years and a time where, as educators, we get to play an important role in shaping mindsets, building character and preparing them for the future.

I have taught every other year level throughout my career (except for Foundation – my beautiful wife continues to enjoy that role), and have enjoyed different aspects of both the curriculum and conversations I have had with students. One of the many things I love about Senior Primary however, is the depth of conversation you can have with students on topics that are both confronting and challenging for students and adults alike.

Term 2 this year saw our students head back in time to 1788 and gain a sizable glimpse at what life was like for the Early Settlers as well as the impact that their arrival had on our Indigenous Australians. The title for our unit, ‘This Land is Ours?’ is a challenging title in itself and opens up the students’ eyes to the early beginning of our great nation, and the impact on those who were here long before us, whilst looking at God’s views on it all and asking - whose land is it really?

After having been to Sovereign Hill and studying the Gold Rush era, we leave Term 2 around the early 1900s where Australia has just implemented the ‘White Australia Policy’ - which generally causes great outrage amongst our students. We then head into Term 3 looking at British child migration which is a much watered down version of the atrocities that took place during this time period, followed by studying the significant events that shaped Australia’s history including World War 2, The Great Depression and the Snowy River Scheme.

Finally, and arguably my favourite part of the two term’s work, is a look at the current Australian climate, focusing particularly on people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants to our great country. We have had a number of guest speakers come and share their good experiences as well as the hardships that they have faced, including Jonny (SS teacher) who immigrated from South Africa, Steph (PS teacher) who immigrated from Ireland, and everyone’s favourite, “Pa” (John, long term member of MECS community) who spoke of coming to Australia with his family from Holland as a young lad.

These stories reflect a large percentage of our country’s population, but what is often not heard, are the stories of the people who come to Australia seeking asylum. We had our very own Duc (MS/SS teacher) come and tell us about his family’s hardships coming to Australia by boat from Southern Vietnam in the mid-1990s, as well as Kate (PS Learning Assistant) talking about her brother-in-law’s journey to Australia from Iran, also by boat. It was a powerful realization for our students that there are people living locally who are in need of our help and are Australian citizens. As well as in our studies, this brought another angle to our class devotions. MECS, as a school, is great in considering our wider community.

MECS staff write our CS units with the Head, Heart and Hand aspects in mind. We focus on the Head (what knowledge we have learnt), Heart (how it makes us feel and what emotions does it bring on) and Hand (what our response is as Christians). We want to develop an understanding in our students that they have a great opportunity to bless others and to reach out and have an appropriate ‘hand’ response to such issues as the highly publicized and politically delicate situation of the ‘boat people’. We challenge the students to think about a Godly response to Tony Abbott’s policy of stopping the boats because “it’s the most humane thing we can do as a government”.

We encourage the students to think about their own ‘hand’ responses – what ways could they help others? Our Senior Primary students have already started a food drive to support our friends at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centers in Footscray and Dandenong. This organization feeds, performs health checks on and educates hundreds of people seeking asylum every month. There has been an overwhelming response from our students who are keen to make a difference, even if it is just by donating cans of food.

Our students are also taking part in writing messages of hope, drawing pictures and distracting children who are in detention. If you are familiar with the Behind the News team’s (BTN) Welcome Book that SP Students completed entries for in 2016, you may get the idea as to what we are trying to achieve. This coincides with the Primary School’s participation in this year’s TEAR read-a-thon as well as the Primary and Middle School’s efforts to support the GAWA community in the Northern Territory.

Sometimes, the ideas we decide to take on as a class are met with questions from students and parents as to whether participating in these activities is compulsory. The answer, to me, seems simple. As a privileged person, living in a first world country with a roof over my head, food in my belly and a job that I love, my response is, “why wouldn’t we participate?”. The Bible is clear about what we are called to do, and every small and seemingly simple step can make a difference. It is important to us that we fill our students with a sense of hope and power – that each person can make a difference, no matter how small.

It can sometimes feel that as individuals, it is difficult to make a huge difference by ourselves, but with a small mindset shift towards these important issues on our own door step we can indeed make a difference, even if it is just by donating $5 to TEAR or buying a couple of tinned cans of tomatoes for refugees in need. Imagine the difference that could be made if every person did this; imagine a future where people far less fortunate than us are welcomed and cared for right here in Australia. 

“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in. I needed clothes, and you gave them to me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35-36 (NIrV)


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