Year 8 Language & Literature – Inspiration

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Service as action

The opening paragraph in The Man Who Planted Trees perfectly encapsulates the underlying philosophy of the MYP Service as Action programme that commenced in Term 2. It reads, “… for a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.” (Giono, 1951)

The story follows an elderly man, Elzeard Bouffier, who spends the majority of his latter years planting trees in pastures to rehabilitate the barren land surrounding his community. It’s an inspirational tale that highlights the profundity of generosity, the power of selflessness and the strength of perseverance. Above all, it teaches us that individuals can make a difference and change the world.

Having spent last term studying The Man Who Planted Trees, Year 8 Language and Literature students concluded the unit by tapping into their own generosity, selflessness and community spirit to enact the lessons taught in the text… they did some planting of poa labillardieri (tussock grass), poa morrisii (velvet tussock grass) and rytidosperma (wallaby grass).

It was a chilly winter morning but that didn’t stop enthusiastic hands from plunging into the soil and helping to transform the space in front of The Barn into a beautiful native micro-grassland. Apart from the obvious benefits of planting endemic species and the ease at which they survive, native grasses increase the health of the soil, serve as habitats and protection for insects, native birds and wildlife and support the local ecosystem. This unique opportunity to service the Preshil community would not have been possible without the help of Emma Peirce, a member of our fabulous garden and maintenance team, and the generous donation of plants from Greenlink Indigenous Nursery in conjunction with the City of Boroondara. Greenlink is a voluntary organisation that grows and sells plants indigenous to the eastern region of Melbourne.

The closing lines in The Man Who Planted Trees reads, “I am convinced that, in spite of everything, humanity is admirable” and the Service as Action undertaken by the Year 8 students was nothing less.



Emily Nancarrow

teacher of Year 8 Language & Literature


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