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From the Head - Headmaster's Newsletter 28 February 2020

Dear Parents,

When the world behaves strangely…

Educating young people against the backdrop of a dramatically unpredictable world is a challenging task. For many adults the relatively predictable world that we grew up in, is perhaps a thing of the past.

Frighteningly, I fear we are ill equipped to t each our children how best to be prepared for this new reality. The bush fires in Australia, the extreme weather conditions in various parts of the world and now the Coronavirus outbreak are cases in point. Even the best and the brightest people in these areas are not able to solve the challenge that these types of events pose.

What then of an education for the future?

Problem solving is a key practice that requires mastery. Working together and alongside each other to solve real world challenges must be a part of our preparing young people for their future. The traditional skills of Mathematics, Sciences, language and so on must be applied to finding solutions to the challenges we face as communities around the world. There is also a growing body of research that supports the importance of the creative disciplines, as these help young people to think laterally and differently in contributing to the remedies to our multiple challenges in an unpredictable future.

Given the nature of our future world the art of being centred as a person is an essential character trait that must be cultivated. How one achieves this state is not a simple matter, given that our consumerist materialistic approach to life is so all encompassing.

We need to embrace a counter culture.

Our deliberate quietening of our hearts and minds at Chapel twice a week is a direct attempt to allow boys to cultivate a centred approach to life against the backdrop of our busy schedules of more and more.

One of the greatest challenges in the task of educating young people, is the necessity of living the values we espouse. As a Headmaster, I am acutely aware of this challenge which demands of me to behave in such a way that my actions do not detract from my words. Young people listen with their eyes. I am far from perfect, and often find myself at odds with my envisioned way of being. Have you stopped to ask yourself whether your choices reflect the values you hope your son will learn to live? You and I are educating your sons together. Do we take time to reflect on our day by going for a walk, being quiet, carving out uninterrupted moments Do we have meals without phones at the table, to ensure we are modelling the behaviours we hope our boys will live? Do we ask our sons whether they enjoyed their game what they learnt from it, rather than whether they won or lost?

I pose these difficult question s knowing that our obligation is to prepare our young men for an environment that may require an even stronger fortitude of character than that which you and I may have needed, to face the challenges of a topsy turvy world which seems to be careening towards greater levels of chaos ever quicker.

Our varied programme must ensure that sufficient emphasis is placed on developing the inner man. Our focus on sport, an integral part of our programme in a boys’ school, must be undertaken with the real understanding that this pursuit is but a past time when measured against the multiple challenges our young men will need to face in their pursuit of a good life. The lessons of hard work, practice and teamwork are terrific teachers in cultivating character but the purpose of sport in schools must never be lost… I sense this generation may have much more pressing matters to discuss around the dinner table in years to come as humanity’s challenges become more acute. I raise this to ensure our focus remains true.

Importantly I continue to be greatly encouraged by boys who think about the future with a spirit of eagerness around the multiple solutions we can find and develop to live this good life. The number of bright young people identifying and solving issues is staggeringly exciting. What we need to ensure is that these young people are centred and steadfast in their belief in humanity and its potential for good.

I am delighted that this education for the future is a partnership with you as parents. Together we may not shy away from the real challenges that await solutions from our wonderful young people.

George Harris 


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