CHARTING COURSE: gradually, then suddenly

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. 

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

These lines from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, reveal a lot about the human experience when it comes to success and failure. There’s pain and shock when the world collapses beneath our feet. Then we realise that this outcome was quite predictable.

Once we analyse what led us to this point, we can usually see where we went wrong. The conflicting intentions, the minor procrastinations, the blind eyes we turn… Like the cracks and rust on the bridge, they don’t matter the one thousand times we safely cross until one day they do.

It's common to the human experience that we’re rarely motivated to act unless a crisis is upon us. We see this over and over in life experiences: studies, businesses, relationships. It’s not until something large and irreversible happens—when we risk losing all—that we feel compelled to act. But often it’s too late.

The media talks about the suddenlies. We notice the suddenlies. We comment on the suddenlies. Yet it’s the graduallies that should really take our attention.

Excellence requires consistent gradualies. Endurance, effort, self-reflection and wisdom propels us toward the destination we seek. Day by day, year by year, we improve, build, earn and learn until, shockingly, we find ourselves 'suddenly' successful!

At BAC we’re paying attention to the gradualies, especially in teaching and learning.


Your child's report card are in a new format that pinpoint more accurately the gradualies that have led to your child’s results. It will give you better insight into the day to day development of their knowledge, understanding, skills, habits and attitudes. It also provides you and your child with a better understanding of how to continue or change patterns of behaviour in order to achieve a good outcome.


While we often see children suddenly ‘click’ with their learning in the classroom, it is almost always the result of hours, days, weeks and years of steady, gradual development. Each semester, we build intentionality around our learning goals by helping students construct their own SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely learning goals). SMART goals build reflection into the learning process and help students see how their commitment to day to day habits and behaviours contributes to their learning success.


All of Secondary is moving towards the type of learning and assessment that accompanies a more defined syllabus than the traditional Queensland syllabus. This is in readiness for the new QCE launching in 2019. Along with a greater variety of academic and vocational-based subjects that help younger students plan earlier and commit to practical strategies for success, this will launch our graduates into the world, successful in their studies and ready for the challenges of life, work and/or further study.

Gradualies apply to every aspect of our lives. Yet one at a time, they contribute to a good, strong foundation that avoids a path of sudden and shocking collapse. The best thing about gradualies? You can start wherever you find yourself.

AUTHOR: Principal Leanne Entermann writes a series of articles called 'Charting Course' in which she talks about topics important to the future direction of our College.