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Look Back To Move Forward

There is a traditional Maori proverb – Ka mua, Ka muri – which translates to ‘walking backwards into the future’. Like many cultures, the Maori people recognised that, whilst the future is unseen, it is shaped by our learnings from the past. I can think of no better way to describe the value that is derived from understanding history. We look back because we can, and should, learn from the people, events and ideas of yesterday.

On Monday, 24th April this year – the day before Anzac Day – more than 2000 students and staff gathered across our multiple campuses to pause and reflect on a moment in history that took place over a century ago. That moment, of course, was the landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli. Yet, the event itself, and the facts that surround it, are not the reason why Christian College marks this occasion. Rather, it is an opportunity for students to reflect on the values of courage, mateship, sacrifice and servanthood, and how these qualities might be useful for the future of mankind. Thus, we look back in order to move forward.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, recently posted a series of 14 tweets on his Twitter account, offering advice to today’s generation of students. 

Tweet #5: I have one big regret. When I left school, I knew little about the world’s inequities. Took me decades to learn.

Gates was reflecting on an education system that, in his day, prepared young people for a life of work but not necessarily a life of ‘good work’. History, then, was merely studied to prepare young people for university and the workplace, not as a means to engage students in the world’s great challenges and injustices. The opportunity for Gates to do this in his time as a student was missed. Belatedly, Bill Gates has evolved to become one of the great philanthropists of our time. He has heeded the call to make a positive difference in the world – to do what our College calls ‘good work’.

Our History curriculum at Christian College is also evolving. Take the study of Ancient History at Year 7, for instance. Traditionally, this unit has involved students gaining insight into the lives and culture of ancient civilisations, such as that of the Egyptians and the Greeks. Students typically enjoy learning about the burial practices of the Egyptians, and the warring states of Athens and Sparta in Greece. But, to what end? And for what purpose?
Now, students in Year 7 History are challenged with a big question. What makes a civilisation great? By comparing the culture, government, religion, significant individuals, and geographical location of various civilisations in the past, students are then able to form an understanding as to what holds a society together. They can then transfer that knowledge and apply it to a modern setting. What can we do or what can I do, to create a better world?

Looking back in order to move forward; across all year levels at Christian College, students are coming to realise the true worth of understanding our past through the dynamic subject that is History.
Ka mua, Ka muri.

Rick Geall
Director of Teaching & Learning - Humanities



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