Fear and faith as Year 12s look to navigate the future
by Gemma Di Bari
There is always so much we want to say to them as they depart through the gates for the last time as Year 12 students. They are hungry to devour life’s possibilities, unsure about what that means. What message can we give them as they begin to navigate their future? What advice as they enter the English examination room on October 26 with the quote from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen swimming in their head: “Till this moment I never knew myself,” says Elizabeth Bennet.
At the entrance of Siena College in Camberwell stands a statue of St Catherine. The plaque reads: “She walked amid chaos and was a force to be reckoned with.” Perhaps if we could tell them only one thing as they start this journey, it would be that there will always be uncertainty in life. Let us not sugar coat things too much. Let us give them a guidebook that lets them know that life will throw up messiness, sadness and happiness in equal measure and that in the end it will be all right.
Many young people leaving school have that longing of getting to their destination, getting there. We want them to know that the journey is important too.
Recently I had the opportunity to ask a group of Year 12s, preparing for the transition into the next phase, what they were most excited about?
One girl’s response was, “So much”. And with that, a river of answers flowed, igniting a conversation that showed their excitement for the future. Palpable was their enthusiasm to try things heard of but not yet experienced.
But as I glanced over, one student’s face was a map of her mixed emotions. Stress and insecurity about the world was heightened by nearly three years of stop-start education at home and school. There was more fear than faith about her future. Fear of rejection and failure, in what she felt was going to be a world too big to understand. Soon they spoke their fears out loud and with each word uttered it became a little less worrying and a little more promising.
At the end of each year, I used to give my students a card with a quote from Isaiah 49:16 which read: “I have held you in the palm of my hand.” If there was advice that we could give students as they march tentatively into their future, it would be: we have held you in the past, we will hold you in the future.
Gemma Di Bari is a Melbourne teacher, writer and a friend of Siena.