Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 24th April 2020
I hope the last few days have been as happy and successful as possible, as we have all been getting more and more used to the most effective methods of remote learning. If this great learning experiment teaches us anything, I suspect it will be that nothing quite replaces having a class and teacher in the same room together. But we can’t do that yet, so let’s make the most of what we’ve got.
I mentioned on Wednesday that so much of education happens outside lessons, as we all learn to interact and grow as a community. I trust that the boys have been following my injunctions to the letter, and that a (thoroughly washed) helping hand has been present whenever it has been needed. Or a kind word and supportive hug have been offered when the combination of remote learning and working from home has become especially potent.
One of the buzzwords on the pedagogical carousel is “character” – that we aren’t just teaching dates and equations and how to throw a cricket ball, but how to develop ingrained character traits that will give the boys desirable behaviours for a happy and successful later life. Like most debates in education, opinion divides over what some of those behaviours might be, and how we might define the term ‘desirable’. But this current remote learning situation brings into sharper focus some character traits that will be necessary now, and useful later on in life. Today’s desirable traits, I suggest, should be grit and perseverance.
There is a great quotation from the American painter Chuck Close, that ‘inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work’. A lot of what we do this term will seem a bit harder than normal and, yes, there will be times when we don’t really want to do it. It might be worth pointing out, for example, that there will actually be a lot more content delivered in lessons this term than in a normal Trinity. But ‘grit’ will get us through it – literally, at times I suspect, gritting our teeth and making the most of a difficult situation. Persevering when the printer breaks or the computer freezes will, in the long term, help us achieve a lot more than if we give up at the first sign of a technological glitch. Working our way around problems is a crucial life lesson, because as much as we might like to avoid those problems, life has a peculiar way of putting such hurdles in our path – often when we least expect it. Taking a deep breath and persevering calmly and rationally is better (and cheaper) than throwing the computer against the wall. Behaviour is catching so it can only make for a happier and more productive home life – a life that no doubt becomes more intense each day – if deep breaths are more frequent than rants.
As ever, please do get in touch and tell us of examples of when your grit and perseverance have overcome adversity. In the meantime, stay safe and I look forward to being in touch again next week.