A Note from the Principal

Tue, June 18, 2019

Global Citizenship is one of three priorities in St Mark’s current Strategic Plan 2015 – 2019. Through ever developing technology, our ability to communicate with others around the world instantaneously means that the world seems to be becoming a smaller place. More and more, we interact with people in other countries as we go about our lives. We may be purchasing goods online that are dispatched from another country. We may purchase services, so that people are doing jobs for us from remote locations around the world. In our working lives, the globalisation of workforces may mean that we are collaborating with people from other cultures and nations across multiple platforms, and people with greater mobility than before are able to move between workplaces on different continents. The issues with which the human population contends are becoming global in scale, requiring the cooperation of problem solvers all around the world to reconcile tensions and dilemmas. We are increasingly interconnected with others who are not geographically close to us.

Futurists believe that the world of work is changing and in the future, interpersonal skills, communication, collaboration, cooperation and flexibility will become increasingly important. In its recently released report, ‘The Path to Prosperity: Why the Future of Work is Human’, Deloitte Australia has said there will be a shift from hands to heads and heart, stating that there has been a major shift away from manual labour towards thought-based, cognitive and caring work. Human skills will be necessary in almost every role - interpersonal and creative skills that are hard to mechanise, even as AI becomes more capable and more prevalent.

As we look to prepare our young people for their future, opportunities to interact with people from other cultures and countries will be important. In my years of travelling after my first round of university study I met many people from all parts of the world. We were different, but also the same. My travelling helped me to appreciate and value diversity and gave me the opportunity to practise and develop tolerance. Understanding of others leads us to develop empathy and compassion. The Dalai Lama, a man whom I admire, has remarked on this, saying that “I often make the point that the factors that divide us are actually much more superficial than those we share. Despite all of the characteristics that differentiate us – race, language, religion, gender, wealth, and many others – we are all equal in terms of our basic humanity”.

At St Mark’s, we actively engage in creating such opportunities, by arranging for groups to travel to other countries to interact with people from different cultures and by welcoming those from different cultures into our own community. In the secondary school, we currently have students from China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Switzerland and Vietnam who are here to study and achieve WA qualifications and/or to be immersed in our culture for a period of time. This group has been with us for all or part of this year so far. Over the next couple of months, we will welcome groups of students from China, Japan and Taiwan on immersion or study tours for various lengths of stay. These students will engage in classes with our students and learn about us as we learn more about them. We will also welcome to St Mark’s for four weeks, four Chinese educators on an AFS Exchange Program, and we look forward to the cultural contribution they will make to our students’ learning. We are fortunate to have had with us this year a Teacher Assistant from the Confucius Institute, based at UWA, to assist in the Chinese language (Mandarin) classes currently undertaken by students from Pre Primary to Year 4, inclusive. Classes in the French language are available to students from Pre Primary to Year 12.

We have had, and will continue to have, a great opportunity to learn more about our visitors who have and will become friends, and to realise and appreciate the things that we have in common as humans, moreso than the things that make us different. As the ability to form positive and productive relationships with others becomes increasingly important in our world, what an opportunity we have for our whole community to embrace our visitors in friendship and understanding.

Steven Davies