One of my family rituals is to watch the 7:00pm ABC News each night with my wife. One thing that has struck me over the years is the amount of overseas news that we are now hearing compared to past years. There are obvious reasons for this including better technology and global connections and “citizenship”. There are also many direct and indirect consequences to hearing such news as well. Directly, we can see things first-hand through on the spot filming and reporting. Indirectly, we can make our own opinions about certain incidents or issues based on a small view of a larger issue or through the comments of the reporter. One of the problems of such indirect consequences is that our opinion may not be as informed as it should be because we have only been given a small piece of information to a larger matter. This can cause you to form judgements about certain things or people that might be quite wrong and unfair.

Our young men are growing up in a world where media influence is far more significant than it ever was in most of the lives of their parents. The influence of media spreads far more than simply through the lens of regular or traditional media communications. They are far more open to using and understanding social media channels as well. It would appear that these sites have a very significant influence on our youth, almost more certainly so than the more traditional means. Whilst there are many advantages to have social media channels for communications, there are also many indirect pitfalls. One of the more obvious pitfalls is the validity of the information or reports that are made available to our young men. It would appear that anyone can state an opinion to a large number of people without any need for this to be necessarily informed by real and true facts. An example of this is the notion of celebrity syndrome. The obvious concern for this is that, on occasions, some opinions that are quite unrealistic, untrue and even dangerous are accepted as truth by those who have less experience in dealing with using facts to make decisions.

An indirect consequence to constant use of social media can lead to some young men forming some unrealistic, anti-social and dangerous opinions of other people and their cultures and beliefs etc. One only must look at the instances of radicalisationor the organisation of riots as examples of this notion. Another indirect consequence is that many young people are forming opinions on the information given to them by people who are as young as themselves, and/or have a very limited world view of certain matters or issues. As teachers and parents, I am sure that we can all relate to occasions when a young man appears to have a set opinion on a matter that is very self-centred or ill-informed to the real circumstance but finds it very difficult to change from that point of view.

Addressing this situation is very challenging in some cases. However, as adults and educators it is most important that our young men are challenged about their opinions if they are based on poor facts, incorrect facts or a very narrow world view. I am not suggesting that our young men should be “sheltered” from media or social media. These things are an everyday part of our lives. My point is that as adults, we need to be mindful of the types of social media channels that our young men are using, and the types of information or issues that they might be becoming involved. It is important for them to learn that such opinions are only the voice of one or a small minority and, on occasions, may be quite flawed and that there are other opinions or facts that shed a different light on the same matter. The earlier that they can engage in such conversations with significant adults, the more likely that they may grow up with a more balanced approach to forming opinions and being open to opinions of others and even being persuaded to change their own if need be.

During the latter part of last week and over the weekend, many of our young men were involved in the Queensland Catholic Schools Music Festival. Overall, we had 13 different groups of students including ensembles, bands and choirs. Apart from our excellent results, it was very pleasing to see the obvious enjoyment of each of the students when they performed. I am sure that this is due, in no small part, to the enthusiasm and encouragement that they receive from their teachers and tutors. It was also very encouraging to see the great comradery and support that each of the performers from various schools gave to the others around them.

Please keep many of our young men from Year 12 in your thoughts and prayers during next Tuesday and Wednesday. Many of this cohort will undertake the QCS test over these two days. This test is used to rescale their results within the school and has a significant impact upon the OP scores of the students. The students have worked very well with staff over this year to prepare for these tests.

We have had a great response to the Father/Son Breakfast next Friday with nearly 400 people being able to attend. A lot of organisation has been put into this event by Mrs Stacey Bishop from the College Foundation and Mrs Jackie Upton and Mr Frank Torrisi. I look forward to a great morning and opportunity to meet many fathers during the course of the event.

This week we host St Edmund’s College in Basketball and Tennis. I am looking forward to a great round of fixtures with a fellow EREA school.

Mr Chris Mayes – College Principal