The guiding light 

At CBC, the four Edmund Rice Education Australia Touchstones reflect the very essence of a CBC education. We display these Touchstones with a series of banners in each classroom that visually capture our staff and students living out these values in practical ways, showing the boys how they too are contributing to our common good, no matter how small their actions may seem.

The four terms of our College calendar are happily aligned to a Touchstone. 

They are:

Term 1: Lenten Term - Gospel Spirituality
Term 2: Edmund Term – Justice & Solidarity 
Term 3: Saints Term – Inclusive Community 
Term 4: Advent Term – Liberating Education 

These banners are practical and meaningful ways to promote discussion and understanding of the Touchstones, and at the beginning of every term in every classroom the appropriate banner is brought forward to be the focus.

The first term highlights Gospel Spirituality, and this banner currently takes pride of place around the College. This focus directs our students and community to our charism, identity and mission as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition. Our charism grounds us, our identity defines us and our mission drives us forward together in the shared purpose of empowering and liberating students to be fully formed and to make the world a better place.  

As we pass the half way mark for this term, and as our CBC families cope with all kinds of upheavals and stress, I have been pondering three words that can serve us well during this time: kindness changes everything.

On the rare occasions I am at odds with my husband, there is a truism that springs to mind – you can choose to be right or choose to be kind, and if you choose to be kind, you are always right. Needless to say, I am always right! But in all seriousness, whether we are faith-filled or not, the message of kindness in the Gospels resonates deeply in our College: "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 

Earlier in the year, Mr Burgio spoke to students about how important kindness is at CBC and how we should continue our 'outbreak of kindness'. This message is repeated here every day, and every day we see examples of students building each other up, encouraging one another and expressing gratitude. CBC teachers delight in the simple act of students thanking them at the end of each lesson or asking them how they are doing. We don't always get it right, and sometimes restorative action is needed, but the idea of kindness being at the heart of our community keeps us authentic, grounded and true to the Gospel Spirituality Touchstone. 

In their Mentor Groups, students discussed a recent study that showed surprising results about kindness. It is already known that kindness increases people's happiness, but a group of scientists wanted to find out which type of kindness makes people the happiest. Different groups in the study were asked to focus on the following: 

  • Group 1 focussed on performing acts of kindness for people close to them like family and friends – helping out, being positive and caring, writing a thank you note – that kind of thing.  
  • Group 2 focussed on acts of kindness for people who they didn't know well – an acquaintance, a stranger, a shop assistant etc. 
  • Group 3 focussed on self-kindness, like meditating, going for a walk, or dancing to a favourite song. 
  • Group 4 didn't do anything themselves, but instead focussed on observing other people doing kind things – noticing someone pick up litter, buying someone a coffee or volunteering.
  • Group 5 was the control group and didn't focus on anything specifically related to kindness.

1h1a2122.jpgResearchers thought Group 1 would have the highest happiness levels, but in fact the happiness levels in each of the first four groups were equally high and all were higher than the control group. They found that kindness in any form made people feel equally good. Even just observing kindness is a way of noticing the good around us, rather than seeing a world full of stress and bad news, can boost our happiness. So, it's a fact: being at a school where kindness prevails benefits our whole community. 

As our Gospel Spirituality term has progressed, we have moved into Lent and begun our preparations for Easter through fasting, prayer, reconciliation and almsgiving, which means giving our time, talents and resources to care for creation. St Ignatius asked how can we live so generously, "to give and not to count the cost?" Rather than just giving gifts or money, at CBC we encourage students to freely give something of themselves. Boys are asked to look after family, friends, the College, the environment, their homes and especially themselves through small acts like picking up litter, helping a friend, tidying a classroom, making their bed, taking a parent a cup of tea, being organised for the day ahead or setting goals. 

Adopt a Beach is one of our service programmes that has been able to continue this year and is a fantastic opportunity for almsgiving in action. Students collect litter, mulch native plants in dunes, weed invasive grasses and learn about the fragile coastal ecology. Spending an afternoon with a group of enthusiastic, caring and determined Year 7 boys this week was a joy, particularly seeing their commitment to environmental protection and hearing about their love of the natural world. At one point, a Nankeen Kestrel flew by, searching for its evening meal in the dunes, to the delight of us all. Realising and practicing Gospel Spirituality with our College community happens in many ways every day and it all starts with simple kindness. 

You can find out more about the Edmund Rice Education Australia Touchstones here.  

Ms Jenny Knox
Vice Principal -- Identity and Mission