Mrs J Tudball, Dean of Co-Curriculum
Come gather ‘round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown …
For the times they are a-changin’ (Dylan, 1964/2001)
Bob Dylan, one of the most influential and prodigious singer-songwriters of the past five decades, has reflected on change in numerous songs throughout his career. Dylan’s own life was dominated by change, notably his change of name from Robert Allen Zimmerman. More broadly, shifting from his definitive folk style to rock altered the parameters of popular music in the 60s. He created great controversy at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when, to the displeasure of the folk music establishment, he completed an electric set and, amid booing, left the stage after only three songs — a move which could have led to the premature end of his career. Not to be discouraged, and convinced that this electric sound was the right direction to move in, Dylan pushed forward and later that same month recorded and released ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, his hit song which has been named number one in the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ by Rolling Stone magazine (n.d.). Clearly, the ability to embrace change has proven to be instrumental in the longevity and success of Bob Dylan’s career.
Change is the only constant in life. The year 2013 has already been one of great change, both at Girls Grammar and on the national and international stage. How people adapt to change can mean the difference between them failing to achieve their goals and ambitions or growing and moving forward to learn from the change.
The world’s 1.2 billion Catholics have a new leader in Pope Francis. Not only is Pope Francis the first Jesuit pope, he is also the first pope elected from the Americas. His papacy, while still in its infancy, has already been marked by change, such as holding the traditional Holy Thursday Mass in a juvenile penitentiary instead of in the traditional elaborate basilica, and including, for the very first time, two women and two Muslims in the customary feet-washing ceremony. Professor Francis X. Clooney, Director of the Centre for the Study of World Religions at the Harvard Divinity School, has warned that those expecting radical change with this papacy will likely be disappointed, and suggested that people will have to be satisfied with incremental changes (Walsh, 2013). Indeed, change is often a gradual process involving planning, implementing, monitoring and reinforcing the change.
The world has recently witnessed the funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the long-serving first female Prime Minister of Britain, dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’. Margaret Thatcher led her country though an extraordinary period of reform and change, and her leadership will be remembered as perhaps one of the most divisive in Britain’s history. Closer to home, the polls are strongly indicating a likely change of federal government come the election in September.
Foremost for Girls Grammar, Australian Government reforms — such as the Gonski funding model and the implementation of the Australian Curriculum — along with the state government moving Year 7 into secondary schools will have the biggest impact. Change is not easy to generate, and nor will everyone happily join in for the ride. Respected educational change expert Michael Fullan, when discussing resistance to change, states that ‘differences, diversity and conflict are not only inevitable, but they contain the seeds of breakthrough’ (1996, p. 175). Margaret Thatcher also alluded to the notion of conflict in change when she famously commented, ‘If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing’ (‘Margaret Thatcher Quotes’, n.d.).
Sometimes change is planned for and at other times it is thrust upon us suddenly, or comes about as the result of a significant and unexpected event. President Obama is currently trying to make radical changes to gun legislation in the United States, motivated by the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. This response is not dissimilar to the path taken by the Australian Government in the wake of our own Port Arthur tragedy in 1996. In both cases, an unexpectedly changed environment compelled a rapid change response. Personal resilience is important in a period of rapid change, and resilient people are characterised as being positive, focused, flexible, organised and pro-active (Richer & Stopper cited in Gamage, 2006, p. 184). Clearly, these traits are indispensable for effective leaders to bring about change.
Modern society requires educational leaders to not just react to changing situations as they unfold, but rather to be proactive in directing the forces of change to suit pre-determined goals and values based on a well-organised vision. The adoption of new ideas and practices in an educational organisation is not only a challenge but also an obligation for the leadership team (Gamage & Pang, 2003, p. 224).
At Girls Grammar, we have been planning for the exciting times ahead. Well before the Queensland Government mooted the idea of moving Year 7 to secondary school we began readying our School for this transition. Last year we moved to the third, and new, iteration of our strategic design with guiding principles to underpin our aspiration to be a leader in exceptional scholarship. Following the departure of Dr Amanda Bell, our visionary principal of eleven years, we have welcomed Ms Jacinda Euler as the sixteenth principal of our School. With her knowledge, experience and expertise, Ms Euler is extremely well placed to guide Girls Grammar through the transition period as we look forward to welcoming our first Year 7 cohort in 2015. The School has a Year 7 and Research Centre to construct, a superb thirteen-hectare facility to develop at our new Sports Campus at Fig Tree Pocket, the next phase of the Australian Curriculum to implement, and our ‘Bring Your Own Device’ technology initiative to further develop. We are also finalising new organisational structures in readiness for the double cohort student intake of Year 7 and Year 8 in 2015. Consequently, we are well prepared for the inevitable and significant change that awaits our community over the next few years.
Returning to the 1960s and to another harbinger of great social change, as US President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future’ (‘Quotes on Change’, n.d.). Fortunately, our resilient, forward-thinking School community thrives on challenge and positively looks towards the future.
Dylan, B. (2001). The definitive Dylan songbook. New York: Amsco Publications. (Original work published 1964)
Fullan, M. (1996). Leadership for change. In K. Leithwood, J. Chapman, D. Corson, P. Hallinger & A. Hart (Eds.), International handbook of educational leadership and administration. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Gamage, D. T. (2006). Professional development for leaders and managers of self-governing schools. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Gamage, D. T. & Pang, N. S. K. (2003). Leadership and management in education: Developing essential skills and competencies. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.
Margaret Thatcher quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2013, from http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/m_thatcher.htm
Quotes on change. (n.d.). Retrieved 14 April 14, 2013, from http://www.leadershipnow.com/changequotes.html
Rolling Stone. (n.d.). 500 greatest songs of all time. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407/bob-dylan-like-a-rolling-stone-20110516
Walsh, C. (2013, April 3). Something in a name. Harvard Gazette. Retrieved April 14, 2013, from http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/04/something-in-a-name/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=socialflow
Published 24 April 2013