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Learning From Struggle

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Learning From Struggle
by Jill Fitzsimons - Monday, 1 June 2020, 11:04 AM

Internet and social media platforms are awash with opportunities to learn from various educational commentators and schools about the wisdom to be gained from our experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, my inbox is under heavy fire from companies and individuals promoting their publications and presentations and I have had several voicemails from companies cold-calling me wanting to meet up, seemingly unaware that we have a no visitors policy and that this will be the case for some time. We’re like a walled medieval city with hand sanitisers.

There’s no doubt that it’s been, and continues to be, an amazingly rich and blessed time to learn from the perspectives and approaches of others, but it’s also been a great time to learn from ourselves and our community about the personal and professional learnings to be gained from what we’ve experienced and what it is still to come.

Speaking recently with Lisa Leong on Radio National’s, ‘This Working Life’, Bobby Herrera, co-founder and CEO of Populus Group, discussed the power of the army acronym VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) as a way of leading people through times of struggle. Herrera is no stranger to crisis, having navigated his company through several recessions. In his interview, he stresses the importance of taking the time to record your insights about what the crisis has revealed about what’s actually working better and why or what’s been exposed, emphasising the idea that struggle can be a gift.

It struck me listening to this interview that Catholic communities are naturally attuned to dealing with ambiguity. Non-dualistic thinking allows us to embrace ideas like mystery and infinity and we are unafraid of liminal periods; we know that ritual that helps us move from one state to another and that there is much to be learned in the volatile, uncertain and complex times if we allow ourselves to be in that moment, rather than rushing for clarity and answers.

That’s why our next two professional learning workshops will provide time for teams to reflect on Semester One’s courses and to consider what worked and what could be fine-tuned, as well as taking the time to discuss deeper questions about what the unexpected taught us about ourselves as people, teachers, our students as learners, our teams and the families we engage with. This time will also allow teachers and teams to list and enact specific tasks to ensure that as we move, hopefully, out of this liminal phase, that we have indeed learned from the struggle about what really promotes learning and connection.