Preparing Principled Graduate Students

Principals Pen Wednesday, 08 Nov 2023

Many years ago I read the book, ‘White Fang’ written by Jack London. Interestingly, the book was first published in 1906, and the story is set in Yukon Territory, Canada during the Gold Rush. White Fang is a wild wolfdog and the story is based on his journey to become a domesticated dog. The first five years of White Fang’s life are nothing short of miserable.

His owner engages him in dog fighting, where he defeats several wolves and a lynx. One day while fighting a bulldog named Cherokee, a man by the name of Weedon Scott feels great pity for White Fang and pays lots of money to ensure he is rescued. By rescuing him, he also gets to own him. Weedon Scott is a rich, young gold hunter. Scott tries to tame White Fang and after a long patient effort, he succeeds.

During the domestication process, White Fang struggles with his natural, wild instincts and has to learn to curb these in order to live in harmony with Weedon, his family and the other animals on the property.

One night, White Fang kills 50 of his new family’s chickens! In the wake of the destruction, Weedon’s father explains that ‘you can’t cure a chicken killer’… Determined to prove his father wrong and to teach White Fang to do what is right, Weedon begins an interesting training process. He starts the next day by cuffing the wolfdog, much to the dog’s dissatisfaction, and then he makes White
Fang sniff each of the 50 dead chickens. Following this he locked White Fang in the chicken yard. Weedon then promises his father that for each chicken White Fang kills, he will give him one dollar.

Each time White Fang went towards a chicken, he was sternly checked by his master’s voice, informing him to leave the chickens be. Eventually, White Fang began to ignore the chickens that surrounded him. By the middle of the day, Weedon felt sure that he had cured White Fang and that it was safe to leave him unsupervised in the chicken coup. As four o’clock came, White Fang stood up, stretched and took a running jump, leaping out of the chicken coup and onto his master’s back porch. White Fang had learnt a valuable life lesson by ignoring the chickens and this was
the turning point in the story where it became clear that White Fang could become domesticated, thus allowing him to successfully live in his master’s community.

At Living Faith we don’t have to domesticate our students…. But we do strive to teach our students to live successfully with others in the community as we serve Him. For our soon to be graduating Year 6 students, they have spent the last seven years learning not to eat chickens… let me explain that a little better. For the past seven years the graduating Year 6 students have learnt that to be
successful in your community, you need to do the right thing, even if it would be easier or more fun (or taste better) to do what your instinct tells you to do.

Another analogy is to see the chickens in the ‘White Fang’ story as those temptations in our life, to do the wrong thing and to make poor decisions that will affect other people. Living Faith strives to be a nurturing, caring community where our teachers and student coaches work hard to provide an education that allows every child to flourish. As our Year 6 students prepare to leave our community and enter a new one in a secondary setting, my wish for them is that they continue to flourish, grow and learn. My wish is also that when they are tempted to do wrong, that they will fall back on the foundations that they have learnt to ensure that they choose the path that has no chickens, or better, like White Fang, ignore the chickens that may surround them. My prayer for each graduating Living Faith student is that they find the path that is straight and narrow and that allows them to have the richest, fullest life that God can give us here on this earth.

Andrew Kelly