FROM THE PRINCIPAL

Dear College Families,

This newsletter presents the Prime Minister’s most recent update, then shines a light on one of our College’s values: ‘Hope’.

Firstly and most importantly, greetings from South Coast Baptist College. I’m mindful approximately 50% of our families have transitioned their children from coming to school, to working from home. Whether you are still coming onto the school grounds, or your children are working from home (or a bit of both), we are supportively with you during this very challenging time. You and your family are loved and valued in our College community. Thank you for the many expressions of encouragement and kindness to staff. It positively energises them to help your children experience excellence in all areas of their school life. I am deeply grateful for the passion and commitment lead by Mr Moses and Mr Trimble, helping the focus be on our student’s needs.

The PRIME MINISTER’s most recent update on COVID-19 and schools.

“Now, on schools, we had another important discussion, the medical expert advice on schools has not changed. It is safe to send your children to school. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting – and there have been discussions today between the Education Minister, Dan Tehan, and the education national unions- and I’ll be meeting with them tomorrow to discuss a set of arrangements that we would like to proceed with that, importantly, keep schools open. That also will protect those teachers and other staff who are working in schools and to work through those issues to ensure we can put acceptable arrangements in place to ensure that children get taught. I said this the other day. This is incredibly important. It’s going to be a tough year in 2020 and one of the things I don’t want to have yielded up is a year of a child’s education, which is so important. We need to work so hard together to try and ensure that those kids get that education and that is not lost to this virus. And so I look forward to meeting with the Australian Education Union tomorrow and to have that conversation and to see how we can come together and agree how we can continue to deliver that while doing that safely for those who work in schools. And of course, for the kids themselves, as we know, the medical advice is that kids can safely go to schools. Under the arrangements we’ve already put in place we’ve seen the number of students attending schools reduce significantly, and that actually assists in observing the other issues around social distancing that are applying more broadly across the community. So we can do this. We can work this out. And so that would mean ensuring that schools in those states that haven’t already ended the term, which is only in Victoria, that we would be able to continue to keep those schools open up to the end of the term. But I would anticipate that for several days prior to the end of the term, there will need to be some pupil free days while the teachers and the school staff work on the projects they’ve already been pursuing on extending distance learning. And so that will be an important job for those educators to be doing as we go into the term break. Schools, we agree, across the country would need to reopen on the other side of the term break because it won’t be a holiday. It won’t be a school holiday, given the arrangements I’ve just outlined to you. They will reconvene after the term break and there will be a mixture of both distance learning and where parents choose to keep their children at home, then there will be the learning that is there for them to undertake, and the parents would be needing to take responsibility for ensuring that their children are engaged in that. For all those workers who need to send their children to school, that’s why the school needs to remain open.” (Ref https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-5)

HOPE

Hope is what we keep in mind knowing the COVID-19 pandemic will pass. Hope is also one of our College’s 4 values. Math modelling of the pandemic strongly suggests the peak impact of the virus is likely within the next 2 to 4 weeks. As shared last week, our hope as a Christian community is in an unchanging, loving God.  

A few years ago during live TV, in a two-hour ‘Good Morning America’ special, a research academic interested in the science of ‘Hope’ did an experiment. Rick Snyder wanted to demonstrate ‘Hope Theory’ in action.

On national television, Rick had three people assist him; the show’s host, a medical expert, and the show’s weather guy. The test was to dunk their right fist into the bottom of a tank of freezing water for as long as they could tolerate the pain and discomfort.

It was a battle of wills, not too dissimilar to the games we’ve seen in the TV series ‘Survivor’. After a short while, the weatherman removed his hand, shaking it to bring back some warmer blood flow to relieve the bitter coldness. Then it was game-on between the host and the medical expert. The show cut to a commercial. The host seemed oblivious to the pain and remained calmly engaged in the experiment.  He wasn’t going anywhere. The advert break provided the medical expert with an opportunity to bail-out, and desperately seek warmth for his freezing fingers.

Rick asked the audience what the experiment had to do with hope. He then began sharing the connection between hope and pain tolerance. He revealed the three people in the experiment has completed a hope-scale prior to the show, which allowed for their scores to be ranked. The hope scale they completed accurately predicted how long each of the participants would be able to withstand the numbing pain of the cold water, before calling it quits. 

To the casual observer, this may have looked ‘lucky’. As a side-note interest, Rick Snyder had suffered from chronic, debilitating pain during the last 15 years of his life. He had multiple surgeries and aggressive treatments. They did little to curb the burning pain he experienced daily. Despite his personal suffering, he remained hopeful and influenced others around him to enjoy their life.  

You can read about ‘Hope Theory’ if it interests you. In summary, it’s about the pursuit of goals. It proposes that the successful pursuit of desired goals results in increased positive feelings. These positive feelings cause you to pursue your goal/s even more. Good feelings cause more good feelings. Rick’s research suggests ‘hope’ has no hereditary (genetic) links, rather is a learned way of thinking that helps us be more likely to achieve goals. 

In research language; ‘strong attachment’ by caregivers (i.e. strong family love) is critical for imparting hope. This is backed up by many studies (e.g. Shorey, Snyder, Yang & Lewin, 2003). Traumatic events during childhood are linked to lessening hope (Rodriguez-Hanley & Snyder, 2000). The inference is that children experiencing trauma may find it harder to be hopeful. This insight helps remind us of the profoundly important role of caregivers.  

Benefits of Hope

Hope scales (used in surveys) have predicted better outcomes in academics, sport, physical health, and psychological wellbeing. In addition, higher Hope Scale scores are aligned with elevated happiness, increased satisfaction, positive emotions, and getting along with others. These insights are well documented in *empirical, **peer reviewed, studies. Empirical means the study can verified (i.e. confirmed) by observation. ‘Peer reviewed’ means fact-checked by other professionals in the same or like academic field.  

We are a Community of Hope

If we have hope, we are more likely to achieve goals that are important and valuable to us; in all circumstances (pandemic or non-pandemic). Maybe pain and times of discomfort are part of the journey towards gaining a sense of deeply experienced satisfaction; i.e., achieving a worthwhile goal in the face of hardships. For our children, wanting to experience good relationships is a very worthy goal. Friendships are an important key to their satisfaction and success at school.

While studying Positive Psychology at Melbourne University, I came across Dr Paul Wong. He is a committed Christian and Clinical Psychologist. Dr Wong suggests: ‘There is no shortcut around the subject or reality of suffering.’ His insight to resilience is: ‘The earlier you learn to embrace and endure hardship as an inevitable part of life, the more resilient you will become in facing whatever life throws at you.’ (Dr T. P. Wong, 2020)

In the absence of hope, William Shakespeare comments on life: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 5, Page 2). In the Bible, Jesus said: ‘I’ve come that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).

Beyond hedonism (simple upbeat feelings), I understand Jesus words to be about the kind of bone-deep, sustainable satisfaction (joy) that can be experienced when we seek to honour God and put our hope in a relationship with Jesus.  

Rick Snyder’s ‘Hope Theory’ suggests hope enables us to endure discomfort and pain to achieve our goals. If our children are taught to be hopeful, they are more likely to be successful in all areas of their life, including their education in CONVID-19 2020. Online or off-campus, SCBC is a community with God as our source of inspired hope. 

Hope will never be cancelled at SCBC

Blessings to you and your family,

Des Mitchell

PRINCIPAL