Words from the Head of School
Wednesday, 30 August 2023

‘The God of Small Things’, Arundhati Roy’s spellbinding (and deeply hopeless) debut novel set in 1960s, Kerala, India, is a family drama that focuses on the experiences of dizygotic twins Estha and Rahel Ipe. The novel hosts the magnetic and singularly virtuous character, Velutha, a powerless ‘untouchable’, who the narrator reflects is the god of ‘small’ things. He is powerless in the ‘big’ things – society has made sure of that. 

Whilst reflecting on this novel in Year 12IB Literature last week, one of the students and I discussed the position that culture and cultural change is really the business of the ‘small things’ rather than the ‘big things' that we often perceive to be the culture makers. This discussion made me acutely aware of the 1000s of ‘small things’ that make up St Andrew’s culture and that repeatedly replenish and renew such a rich and diverse culture. Some that I noticed this week are as follows: 

  1. The sports coach who leaned into coaching and encouraging a student who loves the game but doesn’t perceive themselves as pivotal or skilled. 

  1. The parent who sent me some handmade, ‘You Matter’ merch. 

  1. The international visitor who in his note of thanks wrote, ‘In my years of experience, there have been few instances where I truly felt something in my heart after I leave a school's premises and today definitely felt like the school deserves to be put on a pedestal for its outstanding work ethic and Christian ethos. From the warm welcome by the faculty to the knowledge showcased by teachers and students alike you must be so proud…’ 

  1. The Old Andrean from 2002 who took the time to write about the impact of our Outdoor Education programme and how he is re-creating the journey for his peers. 

  1. The students who consistently thank their teachers after every lesson. 

  1. The History club where students shared their deep heritage with such passion and interest. 

  1. The Year 10 Personal Projects that captured passion for, composition, poetry, screen printing, portraits, cookbooks, climbing, engineering, identity seeking and curious questions. 

  1. The community prayer breakfast where the whole community metaphorically linked arms and looked up. 

  1. The student who strongly held her friend in a time of mourning. 

  1. Grieving the loss of our beloved colleague of eighteen years and the letter from him that fell out of my Bible at a coincidental moment.  

  1. Our chaplain who reminded us that we are a resurrection community of Hope. 

  1. Coming to a mutual understanding with our Aboriginal leaders of what we each mean when we say, ‘Honour’. 

  1. The sacrifices made by parents of an adopted child. 

So, why am I telling you all of this? By way of encouragement. Your contribution as Old Andreans in this community, the thousands of small things that you do in our community every day makes St Andrew’s what it is today. It matters. We are all ‘gods of small things’. Each of those small things matters. We are culture makers, change bringers, leaders. Thank you for all that you bring – that which is noticed and that which isn’t. For those of you who don’t think you make a difference – you do. 

For those of you who want to make even more of a difference – start this week by paying attention to all of the small things and making each one of them value add to those around you. Together, let’s make our community the best there is.