Update, 27 March 2020

Sharpening the Saw

Earlier this term I bumped into a group of Year 12 students who were watching the cricket on the main oval. We sat and chatted. Soon they discussed their plans for these coming holidays. Some said they were going to do schoolwork for all of the holidays. I replied that such an ambition, whilst indicative of a deep commitment to their learning, was not realistic, required, or in their best interests. Furthermore, I added that a balance between work and life is so important. These words from Stephen Covey remind us of such a balance. 

Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.

What are you doing?” you ask.

Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. ”I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted,“ you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat. This is hard work.”

“Well why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen your saw,” you inquire. “I’m sure it would cut a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

Source: Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, New York: Free Press (1989), 287

We all need time to sharpen our saws. I am concerned about the demands on our lives which are becoming more crowded than ever before. The COVID-19 situation has required us to think and operate differently and, for almost everyone, significantly added to our workloads.

For these reasons, time for family, reflecting, silence, thinking, resting, praying and sleeping is important. Through these activities we add value and meaning to our lives. I hope all members of the Melbourne Grammar School community will take time out over the coming holidays to “sharpen their saws.”

Be caring, creative and connected

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis presents us all with a unique set of challenges. We are indeed fortunate that we have a strong School community which can and does support members during times of need. As you know, looking for opportunities to extend this care to the broader community is also vital at this time.

If the past week has shown us anything, it is that the need to think differently about what were previously normal everyday activities is vital at present. I was so pleased to see so many students, teachers and parents embrace off-campus learning. If you haven’t already done so, it is worth having a look at a post on the School’s Instagram account about the online Symphony Orchestra rehearsal held this week – more than 60 students came together with their conductor. Certainly a demonstration of creativity in action if ever there was one!

Further, it is important to realise that social distancing relates to space, not interaction. We recognise that students need to feel connected to their friends and their classmates more than ever, and that the connectedness across our community will help us all cope with feelings of isolation and despair.

I am pleased to advise that we have created a small website which, I hope, will help you to be caring, creative and connected.

Our COVID-19 Resource Hub provides parents with a single source of material from the School relating to off-campus learning, health and well-being support and more. You will find opportunities to connect with the School, and with each other on the site, as well as some ideas about fun activities you can participate in with your children. Each School Update will also be posted on the site.

I’ve included my own Top Five favourite songs on the site – I wonder if you can guess what they might be. I look forward to your contributions to our good news stories, social media feeds and Top Five lists.

The site is a work in progress. We’ll be adding more content over the upcoming weeks and beyond.

I encourage you to go and have a look around the COVID-19 Resource Hub. For the moment, at least, I hope it may help you to “sharpen your saw”.

Term II arrangements

At this stage, Term II commences for all students on Wednesday 15 April 2020. The teaching arrangements for Term II have yet to be finalised. As you can appreciate though, the situation remains too fluid to make a final determination on this matter at present. However, I want you to be reassured that I will confirm these arrangements with you as soon as I can to give you as much time as possible to make changes to your household arrangements.

As always, the health, safety and wellbeing of students, staff and other members of our School community remain our highest priority, together with ensuring that our decisions and actions contribute positively to the resolution of the crisis across the broader community.

Philip Grutzner


[Note that this Update replaces the Parent Bulletin this week.]