There are two sides to every story

Chris Ivey / Academic

Our Australian State Governments seem to be in conflict with the Federal government

15 July 2021

From Our Principal Chris Ivey: There are two sides to every story

Our Australian State Governments seem to be in conflict with the Federal government a little more than usual at the moment and each one blaming each other or someone else, often with little substance other than a political gain. You should have given us more money, you should have rolled out the vaccinations faster, you should have made sure your systems were in place to stop the outbreaks and so it goes on.  We don’t really have a very good model in this area of people taking ownership of mistakes at the moment, only taking ownership of wins. However, we shouldn’t just lambast our politicians, society is riddled with a desire to shift blame and accountability so quickly and we’ve made it that much easier in recent years with instant communication through our devices.

I was chatting with our Head of Secondary, Brad Bowen this morning and we were reflecting that so often Secondary students have a rocky road or a rocky period through their teenage years as they move from childhood through adolescence toward adulthood (it’s actually quite normal). Despite the ups and downs, most students do make it through, and Brad and I commented that the success of the journey, between school and home is so often attributed to the relationship we had with the parents of the student.  When something went awry, there wasn’t a blame game, rather a recognition that we both want the same outcome. Conversely, we lamented the fact that a lack of accountability on the part of students and an attempted shifting of blame does nothing more than instil a flawed sense of reality and a belief that no reflective learning that can take place. Sadly, this often goes hand in hand with a parent who is quick to jump in and try and smooth things over for their child, perhaps out of concern that their child is unable to cope with consequences and that everything needs to be smooth sailing for them. I don’t how to say this nicely: this is an incredibly dangerous response.

St Andrew’s talks a lot about Personal Capacity, which refers to words and statements around resilience, accountability, and independence. As a College we are so keen for your children, (our students) to develop these skills, but I am continually surprised by some in our community who say on the one hand, 'yes, we believe in all of this', but who then will endeavour to reflexively blame the College, or make excuses for their children, even step in for their child and try to remove all consequences and therefore learning. I want to go on record as saying, that everything we do here at the College aims to build into the best education and opportunities for every student. This in turn builds up the personal capacity of each and every student.  We want to lift each student to be able to learn, grow and achieve- as do all parents. However, sometimes, this means that students have to accept consequences which feel tough or ‘wrong’, and dealing with those feelings is learning in itself.  However, based on our desire for positive relationships with our students, this then grows into learning about responsibility, integrity and accountability.

My Mum and Dad instilled in me a very simple truth, which they used to repeat often, – ‘there are two sides to every story’. When my own children share challenging situations with me, I try to be wise: and first and foremost, just listen. Then after some thought, respond carefully. Almost always, the best response is to ask, “And what do you want to do here?”, remembering that I haven’t heard the other side of the story.  If parent’s do feel they need to contact the school rather than encouraging their child to perhaps try and manage the first step in resolving an issue, then my one piece of advice would be…simply ask to meet with someone to actively hear the other side of the story without judgement.

If we are to change the ridiculous and petty blame shifting we see with our leaders in the media, then it starts right here with what we both model to,  and expect in our children. I know it’s not easy, it stirs up all sorts of emotions when our own children have experiences that are tough or negative. I have seen two of my kids through to their 20’s and with two still in their teens, raising them doesn’t get easier. However, if we want them to grow into young men and women who take genuine responsibility for their actions, acknowledge their contribution to a situation, and have the capacity to reflect and learn, then we have start now, whatever age they are.

Best Wishes,


Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

Related Stories

Aprendiendo Espanol

June 28, 2023

We learn to know and understand through language.
Read Full Blog
Secondary Personal Capacity Transcript

June 19, 2023

Secondary Personal Capacity Transcript
Read Full Blog
Walker Learning

May 12, 2023

Read Full Blog

Connect with us