The View From My Study – 10th February
A couple of days ago, some words of the Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Steven Bartlett caught my eye. “Successful people have mental health issues, bad habits, gaps in their knowledge, moments of self-doubt, procrastination issues, imperfect routines, insecurities and imposter syndrome too. But they also know that all of these things are perfectly normal. That is the difference.”
These words made me feel better. They reminded me that, while it helps to show strength and resilience in our ambitions, it is also ok to have flaws; it makes us human and authentic.
This week has been Children’s Mental Health Week, which has carried the theme of “Let’s Connect”. Connecting is quite a modern term in some ways, as it denotes an association with digital devices and social media platforms. Yet connections of this kind are more remote than ever and their virtual nature actually causes many people to feel lonely and disconnected.
Humans are social animals, we thrive in communities and we need to connect with others emotionally and socially. It is vital for our wellbeing. So, in schools, how can we prepare our children for a more digital future while simultaneously ensuring that we generate both the human connection and authenticity?
There are a number of strands in our school week which we hope intertwine and unite in every pupil to give them a sense of belonging and the skills to be a stronger character. Through our ‘themes of the week’, our assemblies and chapel services, our PSHE programme and Insight lesson, we are constantly encouraging the children to stop and reflect on the world around them. Through these sessions, the children are given strategies to deal with challenges when they come along. Some grasp these strategies quicker than others and not everyone deals with things in the same way which is why it is important to get the children talking and to share thoughts and ideas.
We have introduced a ‘listening lounge’ and we are looking at ways to enhance our understanding of what being a good listener really is. We are also very aware of the need for good modelling in the way that we talk and interact with each other as adults. The children observe and mimic very well so if they see kindness and encouragement going on around them then they will be more inclined to act that way too. And if they are kind to each other, then that is incredibly powerful in terms of building collective confidence and personal identity.
We are currently looking at how we can inculcate a stronger culture of service in the school. Wanting to do things for others and creating a better environment for those around us is a very common, human characteristic and that can only come from empathy and kindness. Fortunately, humans are not born with a fixed amount of empathy; we can all get better at understanding others by reading, discussing and listening. In short, by being connected.
We hit half-term today and a lot has been packed in to these last few weeks. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard and encouraged others through positivity and commitment. I hope everyone in the community can enjoy a good week so that batteries are re-charged and ambitions are galvanised.
Gareth Jones, Headmaster