Newsletter for Member Schools of Marist Schools Australia

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Dear Members of the Marist Family

Recently I learnt that I was eccentric.
Social commentator Hugh Mackay revealed this to me. During a radio interview, he described people such as I who read morning broadsheets to be, statistically at least, an eccentric minority of the Australian population. Most people didn’t get their news that way, and it seems that almost no-one under the age of forty-five reads a newspaper at all.

But circumstances are forcing me out of my eccentricity. The newsagent who is supposed to throw The Age over our front fence in the mists of pre-dawn seems to have mislaid our address, a turn of events which has caused me to seek the company of my iPad for tea, toast and porridge. (Are tea, toast and porridge eccentric as well? I suspect they are.) But now, I can read all the papers I want. I can even do the Sudoku on it. Or, for a little variety I can call up some other online news source. Or even simply watch it streamed on ABC24, or do catch-up TV on iView. Or, for more variety, look at Al Jazeera live, go over the Mass readings of the day, look up a recipe for dinner, and check the ladder in our office footy-tipping competition. Less and less eccentric as each day goes by.

The brave new digital world into which we are thrust can certainly be cluttered, even chaotic and anarchic. It can also be often amoral. The world in which and for which we are educating young people is one that has less moral fabric than perhaps any time in history. Revolutionary times are like that. The industrial revolution, during which first and second generation of Marists gave definition to the Marist project, was such a time. For those founding Marists, it was not all about teaching young children in little village schools. Marcellin himself considered taking on works as varied as city orphanages, agricultural trade training for former soldiers, and a project for disengaged youth in the growing urban fringe of Paris. In each, he was dealing with young people who were casualties in one way or another of a society that was changing at a pace for which it wasn’t yet geared.

What they offered those nineteenth century French youth was the same as we present to young Australians two centuries later: a sense of their own worth, an experience of the God who loves them, and means to engage their world with hope and with purpose and with compassion. The digital revolution has changed much not only about how information and communication is accessed and used, but so much else about global finance, employment, business, entertainment, careers, and the defining of value and meaning. It is change that grows exponentially. We all have experience of that, and our students even more so. They are digital natives, after all. It is their home territory.

It is in our Marian DNA as Marists that we intuitively go into the territory of the young, because it’s where they are. That means digital territory. Teachers and school administrators are doing that with great energy and imagination.

But let’s always remember that, while we engage it, we have a deeper reason for being there. A reason that’s not eccentric at all.


Brother Michael Green fms

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