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What an amazing week. We certainly are back and the lazy holidays are a distant memory! I wanted to thank our parents for their attendance at our commencement service and our leadership induction; they were wonderful occasions. For those who were unable to make it, I know it was short notice, so I wanted to include my ideas for the year that I got to share at the Commencement Service…

“What is learning to you? Is it knowing the times tables? Is it knowing the 44 phenomes and that in Australia we only teach 43 because we aren’t English and don’t use one anymore? Is it knowing that snakes can help predict earthquakes or heart attacks are more likely to happen on a Monday? Perhaps for you learning is changing the world when you find out that Saint Lucia is the only country in the world named after a woman or that in Switzerland it is illegal to own just one guinea pig. Maybe for you learning is not making the same mistakes as others; for example, if you know that 7% of American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows or that in 2017 more people were killed from injuries caused by taking a selfie than by shark attacks. Knowing this you may behave a little differently…

Perhaps though, we should look at learning a little differently, perhaps learning is actually an unexpected journey that we are all on, all the time? Perhaps, like for Bilbo Baggins, learning is actually our life, it is what we do or don’t do and, therefore, in order to learn well we need to live well, and to live well we need to engage with the fullness of the world around us.

You see – for those who don’t know, Bilbo Baggins loved Bag End, he loved his little hole in the ground that he called home. He loved his shire and the celebrations. He loved when people like the Dwarves came to visit, he loved being comfortable in the shire. One thing he did not love was leaving Bag End and definitely not being uncomfortable – not knowing the answers or what was coming. However, one day his friend Gandalf gave him a challenge. Gandalf challenged him to join his dwarfish friends and go on a journey, a journey that would result in so much treasure or maybe none, but a journey that would change his life.

This challenge is not unlike the challenge that God gives his people. God gives us life, the Bible actually says he gives us abundant life – full life, but it does also say that often people and things try to take that life from us, but God challenges us to live life like it was a race and to run the race to win it.

That’s an interesting challenge from God don’t you think – to run life and win it! What does it look like to win? Is it just the final step you take across a finishing line or is it what you do from the time the gun goes off until the end of the track? Perhaps it is running the race well, competing and winning. I think it is actually none of these and yet it is all of these. To run as if to win is to give all you have each day in preparation for the race, in running the race and in finishing the Race.

You see, God calls us on an unexpected journey and he promises to accompany us on the way (not unlike what Gandalf did to Bilbo). You see I think learning it is like a mess of colours and moments that don’t stop. I think it is a young child tasting wasabi for the first time, or I see a child beside their parent trying to read with them. I see teenagers procrastinating and then working and then procrastinating again. I see a person on the side of the road with their car out of fuel (normally with P-Plates on)! I see a teacher sitting in their classroom before students arrive listening, absorbing and then planning. I see Grandpa sitting beside his grandchild, listening about this cool new toy called a tablet (and it’s not the tablet he is used to that’s for sure!).

When I see learning, I don’t just see a classroom, I don’t just see a school. I see people connecting with people, connecting with their world. I see them failing and succeeding. I see a journey, not just a moment.

My challenge for the Richmond Christian College student this year is to begin the journey, the unexpected journey. To be fearless in the face of failure, to do hard things time and time again, to take on challenges that scare them or they think are way too hard. My challenge is to be your very own Bilbo and run out of your safe shire, with God’s help, with your family and friends, and fearlessly face your own unexpected journey.

Let this year be the beginning of your never-ending unexpected journey…

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm…”  Winston Churchill

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