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We want our community, our students and our staff to strive, to see the opportunities to be more, to do more and to continuously improve themselves and those around them.

The parable of the three stonecutters goes something like this:

A man came across three stonecutters and asked them what they were doing. The first replied, “I am making a living.” The second kept on hammering while he said, “I am doing the best job of stonecutting in the entire county.” The third looked up with a visionary gleam in his eye and said, “I am building a cathedral.”

In thinking about each of these stonecutters, I reflect on the aspiration that each brings [or doesn’t bring] to his/her job.

For the first, cutting stone was simply a job, something for which to be paid – a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage, a material reward in exchange for his/her labour. No one can ignore this, but the substance, purpose and context of the work does not matter.

The second stonecutter has higher aspirations. He expresses a desire to do his best, a noble trait that we readily encourage at Investigator College – how many times do we hear ‘just do your best’?

Investigator College has an enviable record whereby our students achieve outstanding results by doing their best in a range of academic, cultural, sporting and community activities. We are justifiably proud of these results and we aspire to continue to achieve this.

The second stonecutter is however an individualist.

He/she believes in the achievement of the individual and the continued improvement of mind and body to produce the best possible outcome for him or her self. His/her world is competitive – measuring their achievement against the whole State [in the case of the SACE] and the ‘entire country’ in the case of the second stonecutter.

Somehow, the vision of the second stonecutter is also incomplete. When consumed by individual ambition, lost is our interconnectedness with community. This stonecutter fails to see that there would be no stones to cut if there were not a community building a cathedral.

The third stonecutter embraces a heightened aspiration and broader vision.

It is also significant that the parable has the third stonecutter building a cathedral – not a school, railway station or a skyscraper.

The very menial work of stonecutting becomes part of a far larger undertaking, a spiritual as well as a physical construction. This project aspires to the heavens, transcending the earthbound—and indeed transcending time, given that cathedrals are built not in months or years, but over centuries. A lifetime of work may make only a small contribution to a structure that unites past and future, connects humans across generations and joins their efforts to purposes they see as far larger than themselves.

The third stonecutter reminds us that the individual is not enough, that we aim to aspire to make a difference in and for the world—as it is today and as it will be evermore.

Education that takes advantage of such a setting has the opportunity to produce not just leaders who make a difference in the world, but leaders who
make a difference for eternity.

[Inspired by Harvard Magazine’s ‘Three Stonecutters: On the Future Of Business Education.]

Don Grimmett

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