27 November 2017

From the Head of Junior School

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with the problems longer" Albert Einstein

The dictionary definition of 'perseverance' is: 'continuing to try to achieve a particular aim despite difficulties'. To put it another way: 'keeping going, even if the going gets tough'. Whether we are in school or at home, or just during life in general, we will all have times when things are difficult for us. In situations like these, it can be hard to keep trying - we need perseverance.

In 2002 at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in the United States, Steven Bradbury won the gold medal for Australia in the 1000m short course speed skating. Bradbury made the final thanks to three improbable events. He won his heat convincingly and faced the favorite for the gold medal and the World Champion in the quarter finals. He finished third and was not supposed to advance but the World Champion was disqualified. In the semi-final, he was the second oldest skater and the slowest. He decided to stay at that back of the race and hope the others fell as they competed for the win, and they did and he made the final.

In the final, he knew he could not skate as fast as the other skaters. He was the oldest skater and had had four races in a short period of time. He was tired. Steven Bradbury decided to again stay at the back of the race and see what happened as the other skaters raced. In one of the more memorable finishes in Winter Olympic history, Bradbury watched as the other three competitors fell. A shocked Bradbury became the first person from any southern hemisphere country to win a Winter Olympic event.

In an interview after winning his gold medal, he spoke about his two career and life-threatening accidents. These accidents could have stopped him from training and competing but he carried on and tried harder. Bradbury said "Obviously, I wasn't the fastest skater. I don't think I'll take the medal as the minute-and-a-half of the race I actually won. I'll take it as the last decade of the hard slog I put in."

Perseverance: trying hard even when faced with adversity, when things are really hard is a special quality.

We can see from this example that things do not always go to plan. That getting the results we want does not always happen. We can give up or we can regroup and try again. Learning from failure, working hard to achieve a goal is hard. And it should be. We ask each boy in the school to be willing to try again, especially when things seem perhaps too tough. We ask them to do this day in and day out. With effort and assistance, the boys may achieve something very special and learn to do something they thought they could never do. We ask them to persevere in their learning and the many other challenges they will face in school and in their life. Often the greatest successes are born out of even the smallest challenges.

I invite you to view the following video via this link.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School