In the world at present, many divisions are lived out, fabricated and at times highlighted and glorified. We are in strong need of an alternative way of being with each other; a way that empathises unity and celebrates our humanity. The foundation of this way of being together is respect. 

When staff, students and parents were asked to share their views on what we should include in our re-launched set of values, respect was overwhelmingly endorsed and it appears that all involved felt that respect was the most significant value in terms of building a strong community. 

Developing a community founded on respect for self, respect for others and respect for the environment is a key focus for us at Camberwell Grammar.

I am currently reading a book titled The Choice by Dr Edith Eger. Dr Eger is a survivor of Auschwitz and she takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery as she grapples with the horrors of the death camp and her imprisonment, as well as with the loss of her parents and other loved ones in the most horrific of circumstances. She says that one of the toughest things for her in the aftermath of the atrocity was to learn to respect herself again. Years of being taught that she was inferior because she is Jewish, and months of degradation at the hands of the Nazis at Auschwitz made it virtually impossible for her to respect herself. Learning to respect herself again was fundamental to her emotional recovery. Dr Eger realised that what matters is how we see ourselves, and the opinions of others should not become our reality. This message is particularly poignant for teenagers in this era of prolific social media use. They are often (understandably) consumed by what others think of them. It is our job as a community to nurture our young men in such a way that they feel comfortable in their own skin. We must encourage them to feel that they are accepted for who they truly are and we all have a crucial role to play in this aspect of our children’s wellbeing and broader education. When they accept themselves for who they are, they are better equipped to allow others to do the same. Respect for self encourages acceptance of others. The power of this trait in making a positive difference in our world should not be underestimated. 

Showing respect is based on connectedness to each other. I am so proud that as the boys interact in the busy and bustling community that is Camberwell Grammar, they are supportive and accepting of each other. They are largely respectful of teachers and visitors to our school. This was certainly evident at the recent Year 12 Formal where the boys showed great care and respect for their guests and staff who attended the evening. 

I was recently contacted by a member of the public in relation to our boys and was delighted that this young mum wished to convey her gratitude to the school for what she said was ‘obviously a strong focus on respect’. She told me that she was struggling to board a tram with a baby in a pram and a toddler in tow when some Camberwell boys quickly jumped into action and helped to lift the pram onto the tram. They then promptly offered up their seats. It was certainly gratifying to hear of such awareness and respect being played out in the wider community. These are the acts that need to be celebrated; when our young men rise to the call of actioning the values that are at the heart of what we stand for. 

As we are connected to each other, we are also connected to our land and this connection also relies on respect. It is the recognition that we are indeed a part of something much larger than ourselves. When we exploit and dominate our land, our survival is threatened. Our dedicated sustainability group Towards2050 has worked incredibly hard in recent years to increase our focus on recycling. They have also introduced a range of initiatives that have led to a dramatic decrease in our power consumption. It was wonderful that their hard work was rewarded last week at the ResourceSmart Schools Annual Awards when we were recognised as the ‘Energy Champions’ for our initiatives. I congratulate this group for their efforts and for their role in ensuring that we are respecting and valuing our environment. 

I hope you enjoy this edition of Spectemur, with the theme of respect prominent in the range of articles and stories. Respect is certainly paramount to our ongoing success as a community, and we will continue to aspire to be a community centred on respect for self, others and our environment. 

Mr Rob French Acting Headmaster, Deputy Head and Head of Senior School 

The latest edition of Spectemur can be viewed here