“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him”.
– Nahum 1:7”
Without trust, society atomises, community fragments and relationships fall apart.
Without trust, instead of being connected and robust, we become isolated, cut-off and fragile. Without trust, instead of magnifying each other’s strength, we diminish them, we each become lesser people and our collective capacity shrinks. Margaret Thatcher, in 1987, said “there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families”. I disagree with her profoundly on this, although I suspect her intent was to explore the issue of personal responsibility, albeit in a fashion that denied the power of the whole.
There are lots of reasons why trust is a rare commodity, including our fears and failings, and sometimes the selfishness and self-interest of others. When I think about those whom I trust, I think about those who have my best interests at heart and those who have repeatedly been trustworthy. Without trust, life becomes transactional, a series of self-serving acts where we intersect at points of and for perceived benefit. With trust, life becomes relational, creating time and space for us to grow into the best version of ourselves. The versions of ourselves who are free to serve others, who want the best for them, knowing that in the long run, this will be best for us all.
I believe that “our greatest privilege as teachers is that parents trust us with their children”. This is true, and if ever we take this for granted, we misunderstand some of the depth and significance of education. We also miss the importance of the contribution that each element, student, parent, and teacher, makes to education.
Trust shouldn’t be used to stifle disagreement. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we don’t trust each other. Just because we agree, doesn’t mean we do. However, developing a shared understanding of the reasons for agreement or disagreement is valuable for building trust.
During this time, as we welcome back students on to campus, it has been a delight to see smiles on the faces of teachers and students, the sounds of conversations and laughter, the joy of relationship and face-to-face interaction, students reminding themselves about new ways of greeting and engaging. I have loved the insights that parents have shared with us about their children. I don’t love that the path out of pandemic is uncertain and fraught.
I continue to encourage parents to share with us your concerns and commendations as we trust you to make decisions in the best interests of your children. We trust that you know that we are seeking to do the same. I trust also that parents now have new insights into the rich and rewarding complexity of teaching and learning.