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This week, I was one of the fortunate teachers attending the Stage 3 Sydney excursion. For those of you who have sent your children away on this excursion, I’m pretty sure you would agree that it is one of the highlights of their yearly calendar. This year, it was also my privilege to coordinate this excursion and plan the activities involved. While preparing, the big question I was asking myself was, “What did I want the students to get out of a visit from Sydney?”
For the most part, this was a simple answer. There were so many picturesque locations that the students had to see. They had to view the whole city from the peak of the Sydney Tower Eye (which I still simply call the Centrepoint Tower), feel the sand in their feet at Manly Beach, experience a trip on the ferry and see the unique landmarks of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
But more than this, I wanted our Year 5 and 6 students to get a feel of the history of the big city. Sydney is an ever growing and ever changing place. Every visit, I notice something new has been built or altered. This growth and change has been happening ever since it was initially established as a colony in 1788. The relatively small sandstone terraces of the older buildings to the complex skyscrapers of today tell a grand story of growth and change. This story of change and the contrast of the old and the new still present today is something I strived for students to learn as we took in all things Sydney.
If you have read my articles regularly, you would remember that I value the importance of looking back on my own story. I love to look back at where I’ve come from, where I am today and where I see my future headed. We all have our own story, our own history that we can look back on no matter our age. Our early experiences growing up, our families, our triumphs, our disappointments, our schooling and careers among several other factors add extra layers to who we are.
At Parkes Christian School, we have the honour of teaching the most important history of all. The Bible is the living Word of God. Over the past 15 years, I’ve strived to read and understand this complicated book that teaches about our faith. I learned about the history presented in the Old Testament, particularly that of God’s chosen people. I learnt about their origins and genealogy, their trials and triumphs, their laws and customs and how God was with them through it all. I also learned how the prophets of the Old Testament predicted that a saviour would come.
The words of the New Testament show these promises fulfilled through Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross so that we could have an everlasting relationship with God is such an awe-inspiring and humbling action. As a Christian, this is part of my history. Jesus’ actions inform my understanding of who He is and how loved I am by Him. Every day, this understanding informs my actions, my decision making and this will inform my future.
Earlier this week, I concluded our Sydney tour by encouraging students to think about their personal history, the history of the city we had travelled through and the history that they have been learning from the Bible and reflect on what potential they see in their future. My encouragement for us all is that, no matter what stage of life we are in, we can reflect on our history and see where we are headed as God’s lovingly created children.
Have a great week.