Graduate Address - The Honourable Kim Beazley AC

The Honourable Kim Beazley AC delivering his address at
Notre Dame's School of Education Graduation Ceremony

7 January 2015

An excerpt from an address by His Excellency The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Australia's Ambassador to the United States of America, at the Notre Dame's School of Education Graduation Ceremony on Wednesday 10 December 2014. The University conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa to his Excellency.

As teachers, after their parents, you are about to be the most important person in the lives of hundreds of children. Educationally you are their most important asset.

Forget the great building program, the superb sporting fields, the pride with which principles point to the built environment they tender. For each child it is their relationship with you that counts, every one of them individually and equally. You can destroy them as easily as you can build them.

You can let tiredness, annoyance with particular behaviours, tetchiness in the classroom, problems at home cause you to lose sight of the precious person before you. You can let thoughtlessness, sarcasm and favouritism let the person down. You can let your situational awareness drop and not detect a bullying victim or be a bully yourself.

My three girls went through the system you are about to join. Their experience was not good all the time. I can remember now and then, them coming home in despair experiencing those behaviours. I can remember them too coming home bubbling with joy, fascinated with learning, hungry for more. Invariably that was a product of thoughtful, supportive teaching.

You will be the difference between the kids longing for the classroom or for the weekend. Joy in learning is the heart of creativity. Creativity in the end lies at the heart of societal prosperity and national survival. No one in this country will have more to do with this than you.

This is an awesome challenge. Most of us on graduation are thinking about the life we will lead. How much will we earn? Is there a clear route to promotion? Will we get job satisfaction? Will we successfully partner and enjoy a happy family life? These are all respectable questions. For these graduates though, the question is much harder. As you pursue your normal path through life you have accepted an obligation for much more.

You are dedicated to ensuring that in your working life thousands will be able to successfully negotiate those questions. Further that when they leave your care those students will be conscious of what it takes to secure a coherent, tolerant, effective community.

In the longer term yours will not simply be dealing with what it takes to build an effective society but one with the creativity and judgment to survive in a dangerous world. What an ambition. You had better succeed.

God bless you every one.


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