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I am not a big fan of the recent Black Friday sales. To me, a good life is made up of less things of great value, not more things of less value.

Education can sometimes feel like a Black Friday sale. A kind of frenzy where we forget what’s essential. In the lead up to exams, everyone is in overdrive. Teachers and students are working overtime and then suddenly, exams are over. What was all that learning for? Where can it make a difference?

Students are living increasingly busy lives too. Weekdays and weekends are jam-packed with sports, singing, dancing, music. Plus, there's school and home. So much opportunity packed into every waking moment. What do we savour?

All this rushing around can be unsettling.

Are there solutions? Doing less well is a good start. Saying no helps. As does focusing more on what you love.

What can be done at school?

One antidote to busyness is a connection to our purpose. Students with strong purpose thrive in demanding conditions. I saw an example of this earlier this year when a small group of our Year 10 and 11 students took part in service learning on the PCOutYonder Immersion Program. They spent a week at Laverton School working with more than 40 primary school students to provide 300 hours of individual maths tutoring and mentoring activities.

This was a demanding program. Students had to demonstrate resilience and agility.

But what was eye-opening was the sense of purpose they experienced. In a recent survey of the program, former Perth College student, Bridget Staude, found that students who participated felt they had greater purpose, meaning, engagement and understanding.

Such activities make me rethink what we emphasise in a child's education. Service learning programs are not an add-on, they are essential. They help students find a sweet spot that connects their strengths with a community’s needs, benefitting everyone. Our PC Founders referred to this as ‘higher education’ – education that serves a bigger-picture purpose that is good for both the individual and the world.

I might not be a fan of Black Friday, but I am looking forward to the upcoming verge collection. This is a golden opportunity to consider what is essential in our home and discard what is not. In decluttering the physical spaces in our lives, we can come to appreciate what we already have.

Similarly, as we head into a new season and a new set of festivities, I’d like our whole community to slow down and think more about what is essential in our life and what gives us purpose. Our challenge for 2022 is finding the sweet spot where our strengths meet the world’s needs. I am looking forward to the challenge.