While many independent schools in Australia have an affiliation to a specific religion, many seek to ensure their community is diverse and represents the mix of religions, races, and cultures, found in our ever-increasing multi-cultural society. Whether in primary or secondary education, religious diversity strengthens the school community and helps students to gain a wider perspective, while developing empathy and an appreciation of others’ viewpoints.
Trinity Grammar School stands in the evangelical Anglican tradition, as is evidenced in its motto, mission, and educational principles. The School does not proselytise, coerce or indoctrinate; rather, it aims to embody, articulate and commend. Trinity students are encouraged to develop their capacity to critically evaluate ideas, to weigh arguments, and to consider possibilities. There is no requirement or compulsion to agree with the Christian faith as it is encountered in the School; in the marketplace of ideas, worldviews will stand or fall on their merits, plausibility and coherence.
Though many Australians adhere to Christian beliefs, statistics show that people of other faiths are increasingly making Australia their home, expanding the religious landscape of the country. Religious diversity in schools therefore reflects our diverse society. Here are four ways religious diversity can have a positive impact:
1. Encourages empathy
Religious diversity in schools helps students to see the world and other people in another light. Students may see beyond their own preconceptions and biases and gain an understanding of other individuals. While teenagers in Australia have varying views on faith, it is encouraging to know that they are more open to differing perspectives. The world is getting smaller and boys must learn how to work together. When cultures clash, an appreciation for religious diversity can inspire learning and tolerance, instead of discrimination and hate.
One way you can support your son in developing empathy is by encouraging him to listen to others’ views and actively try to gain an understanding of their experiences.
2. Develops worldview
Religious diversity in schools helps to shape a boy’s worldview, allowing him to see beyond his immediate sphere of reference. When mixing with people of different faiths and beliefs, boys can appreciate and understand culture and identity. Respondents to a survey from the World Economic Forum (WEF) even perceived faith as being somewhat important in creating an informed society.
Especially today, there is an urgent need for both believers and non-believers to understand the core principles of any religion and learn to be open-minded about different beliefs. The reality of living in a diverse community such as modern Australia is that we need to learn how to live well with one another, whatever the differences in our deep convictions.
3. Strengthens community
Richard Flory from the USC Centre for Religion and Civic Culture describes faith as being able to strengthen a community by providing spiritual, social and psychological support for individuals and families. It helps people make sense of their lives and their role in their families and communities. Faith, especially diversity of faith, is necessary in a school because it allows students to find like-minded individuals, develop meaningful connections and receive the support they need.
4. Service to others
Discovering how to make a positive contribution to family, community and the wider world is at the heart of many religions and is certainly at the heart of Trinity’s Anglican foundation. Discuss your son’s understanding of how God may wish him to join with others and use his talents in service to the community. As students come to discover more about themselves and their values, they learn how to actively live their faith by serving others.
Christianity is an important component of the education of students at Trinity. Through biblical principles and our pastoral care programme, we encourage students to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man so that they may become responsible, contributing members of society. It is our hope that boys grow to have the confidence to stand up for their beliefs and live lives of virtue, integrity and purpose.
We strive to promote the spiritual, academic, social, physical and cultural development of our boys, based on a biblical understanding of the Christian faith.