Update, 8 October 2020

Rules Rule

Stupid rule. We parents may well have heard these words being yelled at us behind the slammed door of a teenage bedroom after we have made and stuck to a decision. But rules are important, for without them there are no standards or expectations.

I am pleased to see that William Golding’s famous book from the 1950’s, Lord of the Flies, is part of the English curriculum. In this book, for which Golding won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he describes a beautiful island paradise given to a group of teenagers. Without rules, the relationships between the teenagers quickly deteriorated, anarchy reigned, and the island paradise was destroyed. Golding’s book advocates that teenagers need rules. So do adults.

Due to COVID-19, over the past seven months all of us have had to live by the strictest rules in our lifetime. First, it was the closure of international borders, then state borders, then metropolitan Melbourne, then the requirement to stay within 5km of your home, then not out of your home after 8.00pm. We have had rules on the opening of businesses and schools, on reasons to leave home and on mask wearing and other health measures. We look with concern when the rules seem unfair or are absent, not enforced or deliberately broken. The consequences can be enormous. We feel the daily frustration and the impact on people, hospitals, homes, jobs and businesses.

We have lived in hope that the rules will work, and the COVID-19 numbers will drop, which fortunately they have. We now live with high expectations as the rules become relaxed and our confidence, the economy, employment and hope all pick up. This hope includes the resumption of our normal routines and the wonderful lifestyle that Melbourne and Australia are renowned for.

The staff and I are also excited about seeing students back on campus, with Prep to Year 7 and Years 11 and 12 resuming on Monday 12 October and, what seems like a long two weeks of waiting, Years 8 to 10 on Monday 26 October.

We greatly look forward to providing our warmest welcome to each student, seeing the resumption of face-to-face teaching, providing extra wellbeing and learning support for those who need it and welcoming the staged return of other school activities. Comprehensive plans are in place to support the health and wellbeing of our students and staff. This includes some rules stipulated by the Victorian Chief Health Officer, which are sensible, but might take some time to get used to.

Ideally, if we were to have just one rule, it would be the Golden Rule, Love thy neighbour as thyself. In other words, treat others as you would like to be treated. But life is not that simple, more so during COVID-19. For any family, school or organisation to be effective the rules and expectations need to be well-defined and clearly communicated. The Melbourne Grammar School community should be reassured that the Council and School leaders have made a substantial effort to ensure we have well defined policies and procedures, which are regularly reviewed, updated and made freely available.

On rules I share with you a lovely piece published by the American Journal, Bits and Pieces.

The First Rule
The Golden Rule.

Plato’s First Rule
Know Thyself.

The First Rule of Life
The best things in life aren’t things.

The First Rule of Arguments
Disagree without being disagreeable.

The First Rule of Frustration
When you are right, no one remembers.
When you are wrong, no one forgets

The First Rule of Caring
People don’t care how much you know
until they know how much you care.

A reflection by the Senior Chaplain

In this reflection, Rev’d Hans Christiansen contemplates on the learnings we can gain from the work of St Francis of Assisi who dedicated his life to supporting the poor and the vulnerable. St Francis’ actions related to his deep love of nature and animals also continue to influence many to this day.

In addition, Rev’d Christiansen reports that a sum of $11,163 raised by our Melbourne Grammar School Bushfire Response Committee has been donated to a farmer in Gelantipy, far East Gippsland, so he can begin to rebuild some of his fences which were destroyed in the bushfires last summer. Thank you to all the people who donated funds for this important cause.

With best wishes,

Philip Grutzner