Hope & Purpose through Christian Education

The Parable of the Elephant and the Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. (Author unknown)

ow often are we like the elephants in the story? Held back by the belief we cannot do something because in the past we did not succeed.
When working closely with students often the focus is on building resilience, that past experiences should not hold us back. A poor result does not mean we are not smart, rather what can we learn? Where did we go wrong? For example, finding it hard to make friends does not mean we are unworthy of love; rather we may need to develop skills in communication.
For many students the next few weeks may herald uncertainty and change. The Year 12 students will be waiting for VCE results, Years 9, 10 and 11 are about to commence exams, for other year levels ‘Kickstart’ will soon commence and Year 6 students will have begun their transition to Secondary School. These challenges can impact our perception on schooling, how we fit in the world and ultimately what we believe we are capable of. Having three of my children at the college I understand how significant this can be. As a schooling community we need to continue working together to ensure our students, unlike the elephant in the parable, do not become shackled by challenges.
“Parents and educators need to establish a culture in which security and clarity of expectations are balanced with the encouragement of playfulness, inquisitiveness and self-reliance.” (Guy Claxton, Building Learning Power)
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Richard Van Orsouw

Director of Wellbeing