As educators know, extraordinary opportunities for learning come from those often unpredictable and unscripted teachable moments. Those moments that are not ‘text-book’ and yet provide students with valuable occasions for critical thinking, reflection and deeper learning.
On Friday, our government missed a teachable moment when the Prime Minister rejected appeals for the resettlement of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea in South East Asia.
The aim of government policy is ultimately designed to improve the lives of citizens whether it be access to universal healthcare or quality education. Our politicians are elected community leaders. They are also teachers – reflecting our values, sense of identity and hopes for the future.
This generation of Australian students will be key to solving future challenges including how we aid and assist those fleeing war and persecution.
I’m not sure what values were imparted or what lessons our students learned from Friday’s response but I am reminded of the second stanza of our National Anthem:
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
With refugee week coming up in June, perhaps the word for our politicians here is – courage.
There are government and Catholic schools across western Sydney who have welcomed children from around the world (many from war-torn nations) into its classrooms and communities. These students are all contributing to a more inclusive and diverse society.
These students have stories of courage to share – and something to teach our politicians.