How Not To Be Wrong!

Can you remember a time when you asked the question, why do I need to learn this? How is this going to help me in the future? This subject is boring and how is this going to get me into a future career?

Let me bring some perspective to the questions often raised by students. In 1962, three African-American women were recruited into the NASA program to assist the NASA scientists. They were mathematicians. The US in 1962 was still a place where segregation between white and black people was common with prejudice and discrimination deeply ingrained in the psyche of the American people. Katherine Johnson was one of the mathematicians who calculated the exact trajectory for astronaut John Glenn to return safely following three orbits of the earth in space. These three women were able to break down the stereotypes of women in mathematics, women scientists in the space agency and equity regardless of skin colour, religion or gender.

Our learning in the classroom sometimes may not make sense, may not seem relevant, may not seem enjoyable or may not seem challenging. However, the learning we engage in, is the product of a well-designed national curriculum and our teachers are well-trained to provide the very best possible experience and exposure to a world-class education which prepares students for pathways beyond school.

Earlier this year we celebrated the success of our 2017 Year 12 graduates with 99% SACE completion and well over 1/3 of students achieving an ATAR over 90. I will guarantee that none of our graduates would have remembered those moments when learning seems irrelevant or disconnected. Their persistence and efforts contributed to their success.

Sometimes learning does not connect but sticking with tasks and doing your very best will contribute to developing your mind and your capacity for thinking! It will help you to solve problems, analyse data and not to be wrong!

Katherine Johnson could not afford to be wrong! If John Glenn did not return safely this would have been a disaster for the African-American people and women. In the future our students may well be in the same position, whether they are servicing the brakes on a car, making a diagnosis on cancer treatment or whether they are providing advice on financial investments.

Last Friday, we celebrated the success of our students who achieved straight A’s for their academic endeavour. This is what we ask all students to strive for, inspired to be at their very best and never giving up.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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