Headmaster's Blog - 23rd January 2018
This week I was lucky enough to experience the whole gamut of School assemblies.
I started the week with the Prep School, answering questions from the Head Boy and Head Girl. The trickiest one was definitely, "What is your most annoying habit?", but fortunately I'd been given the heads up on that one in advance and my wife was able to give me a whole host of possible answers. I was also able to share in congratulating a number of pupils who had enjoyed an incredible first week of term with regard to how many points they'd accrued for their Clubs. I'm looking forward to returning to the Prep later this week to see the Year 8 play, "Archie Dobson's War".
On Friday I had a wonderful time in Pre-Prep, where I was introduced to all of the children, and as well as joining in with a song, got to ask them what they'd like to be when they grow up. One should always remember that any question asked to a group of people whose ages are in single figures will be greeted with a forest of hands, and their enthusiasm certainly carried me through the rest of my day.
Sandwiched in between these was my first assembly with the Senior School, in which I used the example of plastic pollution in the oceans to illustrate the damage that we are doing to ourselves and to our planet, and to bemoan the fact that my generation and those before me have both made the situation worse and done very little to put things right. It was not all doom and gloom, however, as my closing point was that we seem to have a generation of young people who have what it takes to address some of the world's greatest challenges.
I have neither the evidence nor the belief that people under the age of 20 are in some way more intelligent or more creative than their parents or grandparents. But they do seem to have a whole host of qualities that are not as present in Millennials, Baby Boomers or whatever other labels are placed upon us (I think that most schoolchildren today are part of what is known as "Generation Z"), and I don't believe that these qualities are merely a result of their youth.
One such quality is tolerance, although I'm not sure that is the right word to describe what our children have developed. For me, tolerance has a sense of putting up with something, or accepting something that is different from ourselves or our opinions. Many of our pupils are actually difference-blind, in that it doesn't occur to them that a difference should have been mentioned or thought about in the first place. As a society we appear to have reached a stage where we feel the need to highlight our lack of prejudice, and to make a big point about how open-minded we are, maybe to distinguish ourselves from forms of discrimination that we associate with an older generation or a time now past. But the young people I work with don't need a pat on the back for treating everyone as equals; they just get on with it and look a little puzzled when older people choose to comment on how well-adjusted we all are.
This is an important attribute for the human race to acquire as these people reach an age at which they will be responsible for righting wrongs. It is a characteristic that leads to a greater level of collaboration and a realisation that everyone has something to offer; nobody is in the privileged position of having all of the answers. Our students are already doing so much in the wider community, and we will be celebrating that in our Civic Service in the Chapel this Sunday. In the words of the Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi,"The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world."