Behind the Study Door
Explore. Dream. Discover.
“Feel the Rhythm; Feel the Rhyme; Get on up; It’s Bobsled time”.
Listening to Nick Nieland, Olympic Javelin thrower, speak in Assembly yesterday morning, led me to reflect on athletes as extraordinary role models through their successes and failures. Looking out of my study window at the very last traces of snow on the lawn (Kindergarten have just been busily collecting icicles outside – a truly wonderful sight) has taken me to the Winter Olympics. Athletes train for years in a variety of extreme conditions and within a precarious atmosphere, where the slightest setback can send them hurtling away from any chance of a medal, let alone a spot on the leader board. This requires extraordinary mental stamina and strength to pick oneself up after setbacks.
One only has to look at the many films that have been made to find examples of a true growth-mindset amongst athletes, two of the most famous ones being ‘Eddie the Eagle’ and ‘Cool Runnings’.
One of the defining stories from the 2018 Winter Olympics from Team GB was the great sadness and disappointment for Elise Christie, who was disqualified from the 1000m heats, having suffered a similar fate four years earlier in Sochi. The British skater, who succumbed to a catalogue of awful coincidences, made it clear that her defeat last year “didn’t define her” and she will come back stronger in Beijing in 2022.
Athletes who are at the very critical end of endurance, stamina and mental toughness are extraordinary role models to us in success and when they perform to our expectations. It is when they fail, suffer defeat or disappointment, or when years of hard work, determination and sheer grit are dashed in a moment’s poor judgement or third-party act, that they have the opportunity to show us humility, self-awareness and courage at its very best. One cannot imagine the pain and disappointment that Elise Christie will have gone through, but all admired her courage, strength and inspirational response far more than we would have celebrated her victory.
This is all very well, but our pupils are not competing in the Olympics today (although I hope many of them dream of this or its equivalent – performing in the Sydney Opera House; exhibiting in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art; pioneering leading scientific or medical research; leading England to victory against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup etc.), and what message can they take from Elise Christie, the 1988 Jamaican bobsleigh team, or their talk yesterday, in flourishing in the ups and downs of life at their age? I think the key messages we can give children every day are:
- Follow and stand up for your dream
- Be proud and stand out from the crowd
- Give everything a go
- When you don’t succeed in whatever it is, dust yourself down and give it another go
- Find something you love and ‘go for it’.
I was taken by an article I read a few weeks ago. It featured the explorer, Levison Wood, who started on a lifetime of adventure, inspired by losing his wallet as a teenager at Alton Towers. He provides us with a very powerful quote from Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did… so throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I hope our children do just this, and I will join you in being so very proud of them if I learn that they have inspired others through picking themselves up after defeat or setback.
Wishing all St George’s families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.
HEAD MASTER'S CELEBRATION ASSEMBLY
The following pupils received certificates at our Celebration Assembly on Monday:
Head Master's Commendations
On three occasions this week we welcomed visitors to the school, who in very different ways have demonstrated exceptional courage and determination in their lives. On Wednesday, Years 4 and 5 were enthralled by a talk from Charlie Walker, the adventurer and writer, whose exploits have included a 43,000-mile bicycle journey through 60 countries over a period of four and a half years.
On Thursday our Upper School Assembly speaker was Nick Nieland, the javelin thrower and gold medallist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, who gave a very motivational presentation to the children about the importance of learning from mistakes, working on weaknesses rather than strengths and keeping a healthy mind and body.
On Friday Lindsay Cole, the 'Urban Mermaid', whose campaigns to raise awareness of the affect of single-use plastic have included swimming 200 miles down the Thames, gave a presentation in our Assembly and held recycling workshops with Years 3, 5 and 6.
Despite the bitter winter cold, music has continued to warm the soul at St George's as 2019 moves on at a pace. Along with a new year come new faces, and we welcome Rebecca Watt as our woodwind teacher, and Robert Howarth as piano teacher and accompanist. Both bring with them a wealth of musical experiences: Rebecca has taught in many situations and plays with varying groups, knowing the Berkshire music scene very well; Robert has a rich and varied background with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Opera North and Dartington Summer School.
Meanwhile, the children have hit the ground running, with all the ensembles straight back into rehearsals. The Chamber Choir's exciting project of recording a CD and singing in Llandaff Cathedral in Wales is just around the corner and preparations are well underway. T-Voices welcomed new members from Year 3 and have already made great progress this term. With concerts, tours and exams all in sight, the children continue to impress all around with their musicality, professionalism and immense drive. Keep it up, St George's!
This week our cross country runners started the season off with impressive performances, starting with the Berkshire Schools Cross Country Championships in Newbury on Saturday. Then, at the Sunningdale U11 and U13 Cross Country relay on Thursday, our U11 team was placed 2nd and the U13 team placed 3rd overall. Well done to all the runners involved.
General Knowledge Quiz at St John's Beaumont
On Monday, two teams each made up of a Year 3, 4, 5 and 6 pupil represented St George’s in the first round of the regional Quiz Club Key Stage 2 General Knowledge Quiz at St John’s Beaumont. There were eight teams altogether, some schools having two, the host school included.
The questions were tough but both St George’s teams got off to a fine start. Team 1 (Jamie P, Fede R, Tabitha P and Jonty O) led the competition until question 36 out of 40 but they were narrowly beaten by Greenfields. St George’s Team 1 may still qualify as the highest runners up for the region – we will await the possibility of this prospect with great anticipation! Team 2 (Chanel G, George S, Sam P and Thomas B) came in 6th place. All the children competed with great spirit and were terrific ambassadors for St George's. Thank you to the parents who came along to support, and to Quiz Club for organising such a fabulous event once again!
‘What is the surname of the children in the Chronicles of Narnia?’ Answers on a post it note please!
Year 6 visit Windsor Castle
As part of their history lessons this term, Year 6 are studying the Medieval Realms. On Thursday they visited Windsor Castle as their focus has been the development of castles and in particular, their defensive features.
Name our Newsletter Competition!
Can you think of an exciting name for our weekly newsletter?
Entrance slips are available from class teachers / form tutors. There is a 'Name our Newsletter' box for completed slips on the table outside the main school office and in the Lower School Hall.
The deadline for entries is lunchtime on Thursday 31 January and the successful name will be adopted from Friday 1 February.
The person who suggests the winning name will receive a £10 Waterstones gift voucher. (If entries are duplicated, lots will be drawn.)
Maths Puzzle of the Week
Here is this week's puzzle and last week's solutions. Did you manage to get it right?