Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared. JK Rowling
What more could emerge to challenge us? We are navigating daily life in a pandemic, tracking devastation and loss of Australian homes and lives in flood water, and enduring visions and news of war in Europe. And yet, in all this, we are also seeing the power of human goodness – of people supporting people; people serving others. Within the darkness of adversity and atrocity, there are rafts of hope and light to cling to.
I continue to be inspired when I see young people work for the betterment of their families, communities and world – and we have a good number of these at St Peter’s College. Thank you to the School Captains and team of Year 12 students who committed to a morning of conservation work last Sunday, alongside Service Learning Program Coordinator, Ms Antonia Mackay. Their combined effort at Kaurna Park Wetlands was substantial and made a positive dent on the future for all of us.
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, even without having experienced. ‘They can,’ as JK Rowling tells us, ‘think themselves into other people’s places.’ The inspirational author is referring, of course, to our capacity to empathise, but she is also – unsurprisingly – interweaving a message about the importance of imagination in this regard.
Imagination is a prominent theme of the book I am currently studying with my Year 9 English class. All The Light We Cannot See is about war and how the characters wrestle with the reality of the world around them and the imagined world they wish it to be. The author’s skill is providing the Year 9 boys with a window into the hearts and minds of the characters. Through fiction, they are building empathy – meeting people, visiting places and feeling things they might never otherwise have known.
Making this imaginative leap offers good lessons for life. We need our young people to step into the shoes of people who are different from themselves, hear their personal stories and grasp something of their lives. It’s when we recognise a small part of ourselves in another person that we begin to care about their plight and that of others like them.
And that’s just what we are seeing in our students. They are resisting checking their media and messages long enough for the news stories to become real and to see a reflection of shared humanity in the eyes of others – from Kyiv to Lismore. They are using their imagination and paying attention to the world, and anything we pay attention to has the capacity to transform.
I hope the long weekend brings peace and clear skies far and wide.
Deputy Headmaster / Head of Senior School