The View From My Study – 24th November

While living in Eastbourne, I became quite interested in the explorer Ernest Shackleton who also lived there, with his family, over a century ago.

Shackleton has been described as “the greatest leader that ever came on to God’s earth” largely because he saved the lives of twenty-seven men stranded on an Antarctic ice floe for almost two years. To do this, he had to embark on an eight-hundred mile trip across the south Atlantic in little more than a rowboat. When he eventually returned with the necessary support, every man was still alive, in good health and in good spirits, largely because of the environment he had created. Shackleton looked for optimism and humour in his crew because he knew that these were characteristics that would lead to resilience which, in itself, is an essential quality for anyone undertaking a challenge. He was right! With the world throwing different challenges at an increasing rate, we, as educationalists and parents, have to ensure our children are resilient. And that is why it is essential to laugh, to play, to make mistakes, and to have things to look forward to – they lead to optimism and humour, adaptability and spirit.

Shackleton also cultivated a sense of compassion and responsibility for others, something we work hard on at Bilton Grange. As a result his crews fused effectively together as a team, operating positively and vibrantly when the seas were smooth and supporting each other when times were tough.

In many ways Shackleton instinctively knew something that much of today’s society needs reminding: a healthy mind and a healthy body are essential for a fulfilling and successful life. The Greeks knew this too; their civilization was built around the idea of a sound mind in a sound body. And so did the great educationalists who developed a curriculum that incorporated regular physical exercise, an appreciation of the arts and a spiritual connectedness alongside academic rigour.

While today’s methods of delivery may differ from our early Victorian forbears, these aspects are just as important to promote today, if not more so, and these are all strands of the education we are trying to offer.  The BG crew does not need to be stranded for two years to build its resilience; instead, by setting targets and enduring new experiences, we are helping the children to build their confidence, cope with disappointment and make the most of the lives ahead of them.

Tomorrow is a very busy day. It begins with Headmaster’s Bacon Butties at 8.15am in the dining room and ends with the Christmas Fair from 1.30pm in the Gallery. In between we have, among other things, the Juniors’ Christmas Cracker, Section hockey matches and several rugby matches on the Close at Rugby School. I look forward to seeing you at some stage I’m sure.

Gareth Jones, Head

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Headmaster’s Welcome