Courage in the face of adversity

Each of us face challenges every day, large and small. I believe that one important measure of a person lies in how they respond to these.

At Melbourne Grammar School, we want our students to flourish in the world beyond the School gates. A necessary part of this is having the courage and resolve to face adversity with intelligence and a positive mindset. We try to build these attributes in our students each day across their whole school journey.

For some, like surgeons and emergency workers, their challenges can have a direct impact on a lifespan, but the often-quoted statement by Mary Anne Radmacher is also true. It reads: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I will try again tomorrow.”

Our students at Grimwade House have an admirable saying: FAIL means ‘First Attempt In Learning’. That is, all experiences – even our failures – are an opportunity to learn. The point is to have the courage to try again and again but perhaps in a more informed way each time. Try a different approach, think creatively, seek guidance. Our students learn that with hard work and a touch of bravery, many difficulties can be overcome.

This philosophy continues through Wadhurst and Senior School, and not just in the classroom. Stepping into new experiences like outdoor education, sport and musical productions requires courage.

Examinations are a challenge for many.  I completed my final MBA examination in my mid-thirties. With practice, experience and hard work, I became better at examinations and, therefore, less nervous.

At Melbourne Grammar we appreciate that examinations require a range of skills, knowledge and techniques. Under time pressure one has to read and comprehend material, evaluate, criticise, assess, reorganise, recall, summarise and reason. These same skills will be required in the workforce, but it is no wonder that examinations can be so challenging.

Consequently, we believe students need to be exposed to examinations early. By the time of their VCE examinations, we hope students will have learnt to feel more comfortable about the situation due to their past experiences, they will have learnt strong techniques and their confidence in performing well will be solid.

Of course, like most challenges, there is more to it than that. Our School values learning, pursuing academic excellence is cool and achieving one’s personal best is celebrated. Personal best means hard work. Hard work overcomes most obstacles to personal success – the greater the work, generally the better the result.

That being said, sometimes, despite our best efforts, challenges cannot be overcome. Learning to accept defeat is also important. This takes a particular kind of courage and resolve, and these qualities are reflected in our School Values.

You can read more about our updated School Values here. These were detailed in Towards 2030 which sets out our strategic intentions for the future.