The View From My Study 14th October

I was talking to some 4th Form (Y6) pupils over lunch this week and we had a very interesting discussion around the meaning of ‘being normal’. Respondents could be divided into two camps – realists and idealists. Quite a few articulated the idea that ‘being normal’ is being yourself because everyone is different – an idealistic view of the world perhaps. Several others were more pragmatic and identified that ‘being normal’ is about ‘trying to fit in with the in-crowd’. We discussed times when one might feel like an outsider and ‘not normal’ and we centred on mufti days as a perfect example. Almost everyone said they had felt nervous about wearing their own clothes to school in case they got teased for what they were wearing and they would then ‘stand-out’. Everyone agreed it was wrong to be critical of each other’s attire and yet everyone worries about it.

The media and advertisers have a big part to play. When I was in Year 6, adverts only ever showed boys playing football and girls doing ballet, thus creating the perception that it was ‘not normal’ for boys to be good at dance and drama or girls to kick a ball around and play computer games. At worst this kind of stereotype led to prejudice and this is something I am keen to break down. Fortunately, it seems the advertisers are too, finally.

The beauty of our discussion was that the pupils could recognise the importance of celebrating differences. We need empathisers in society – people who can put themselves in other people’s shoes – for the world is a diverse place with rituals and customs that vary from place to place. One’s view on what constitutes ‘normal’ is driven by the values, beliefs and experiences with which one grows up. Hopefully, by being open, honest, kind and reflective here at Bilton Grange, we are creating an environment where ‘being normal’ means being confident and true to oneself. Simply that.

It was lovely to see the Gallery lit up by the fun and enjoyment of a Diwali Festival of Light celebration on Wednesday. A team of FAB parents provided samosas, home-made chai tea and clay diyas for children to decorate while there was an informative explanation about the importance of this Indian holy day too. My thanks to everyone who invested time and effort to make this such a special event.

Yesterday we were visited by a group of 17 children and 6 adults from a prep boarding school in Japan. Jinseki International School is situated in the hills, just outside of Hiroshima and offers a fascinating education. Exploring English culture and heritage as part of its European tour, the group enjoyed its visit to BG and Rugby School and left with positive memories.

This afternoon marks the start of half-term following six very busy weeks in which much has happened, in and out of school. The mid-term break has arrived at the right time with children flagging a little and in need of the chance to recharge and refresh. I sincerely wish them all a very happy holiday.

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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