Principal's video update - Issue 18 2021

Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day are commemorated annually in Australia, the former on November 11 and the latter on April 25. Remembrance Day marks the formal end of the First World War on November 11, 1918 with the signing of the armistice at 11:00 am. ANZAC Day marks the first major battle fought together by Australian and New Zealand forces under the ANZAC banner.

I think it is fair to say that the prominence we give ANZAC Day in our contemporary culture is vastly greater than that afforded Remembrance Day. This seems odd. ANZAC Day marks a catastrophic defeat with huge Australian and New Zealand casualties. Remembrance Day marks a victory with the surrender of Germany to British and Commonwealth forces including Australia. There is no air of celebration on November 11 however April 25 is often described as a ‘celebration of the ANZAC spirit’.

I recently read “Not playing the game – sport and Australia’s great war” by old collegian Dr Xavier Fowler. The book questions assumptions about the assumed links between sport and war in Australian society. It made me reflect that the contrived linkage of sport and the ANZAC spirit by those seeking to market professional sport in the modern era may well be responsible for the difference in the prominence given to these two days. It also made me feel proud that St Joseph’s has an old collegian rising to prominence as a historian and author.

Today, November 11, the College will pause and commemorate Remembrance Day, as we do ANZAC Day each year. We remember with gratitude all those who serve their country in the armed forces and those who paid the ultimate price… Lest we forget!

Recently our students participated in a survey called the Adolescent Men’s Project. Conducted by EREA, the aim of the study was to help us better understand the attitudes of our boys to masculine norms, with a view to successfully promoting respectful relationships and positive behaviours. The study investigated the social messages adolescent boys are receiving about what it means to be a man and their degree of personal endorsement of these messages. Further, it investigated the relationship between awareness and endorsement of these social messages and areas of boys’ lives including mental health and wellbeing. We hope findings will help us assist our boys to avoid narrow and restrictive male stereotypes and create a culture where warmth, tenderness, vulnerability, empathy, and compassion are the norm.

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  1. The messages boys receive from society about what it means to be manly are at odds with their own views
  2. The more boys hear, or are aware of negative social messages about what it means to be manly the more they tend to internalise these messages, and this has a negative impact on their social and emotional well-being
  3. Boys who self-report being more honest are less likely to endorse negative messages of what it means to be manly
  4. Younger students who self-report high physical ability appear more likely to endorse social messages on what it means to be manly
  5. The most significant influence on the core value system of young men is their father or male role model, and this influence acts as a deeply held internal guide on how to behave

The lead author of this study, which was conducted in four EREA schools, told me that our students really stood out in their understanding of, and ability to articulate matters relating to gender issues, sexuality and respectful relationships. He finished our conversation with “I don’t know what you’re doing at Joey’s but keep doing it… your boys were outstanding”.

At long last, we are able to hold many of the gatherings and events that have not been possible due to COVID restrictions. I hope that you will get the chance to be involved in some of them. This week most of our Year 12 VCE students will finish their exams. Year 12 students have had an extremely difficult two years where many ‘rite of passage’ events have been curtailed. I am delighted to report that we have been able to schedule our valedictory dinner on November 26 and that boys and families will be able to gather and celebrate their achievements

Stay well and God Bless