27 November 2017

Choose the hard things

In 1962, John F Kennedy made a speech at Rice University in Texas. He spoke about the fledgling space programme and why America had embarked on the mission to send a manned space flight to the moon by the end of the decade. In this speech, he said, "We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." There is great value in pushing ourselves, extending the boundaries, exploring new worlds.

Bill Dickinson, former Headmaster of Scotch College, had a phrase: "Experience through coercion." By this, he meant that part of the role of schools was that they should encourage young men to try things that were outside their comfort zone, not all the time but regularly, which would enable them to grow in character. Sometimes we have to be cajoled and coerced into learning more about ourselves. A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Moray to see my Year 9 class who were there on camp. I picked a good day; it wasn't raining. Half of the group were on the climbing wall. Some of the boys struggled to get up, but the support from the other boys was fantastic. The achievement - whether it was making it all the way around, or simply getting up the ladder, was a collective one.

Wellbeing is not about being happy all the time. It is about recognising that life will be difficult at times and enjoyable at others. Being able to talk through the good and the not-so-good is important, and connection to and support from those around us is crucial to our success, however we define that.

RUOK? Day

Week 6 in the Senior School has been designated as the week when we celebrate 'RUOK? Day'. Mr Jones is speaking to the school during Chapel and we will be talking about the importance of checking up on each other. The Year 12s will also be singing a song - a reworking of 'Life is a Highway' that builds on the theme of asking 'Are You Okay?' In Week 8, we will also be running activities in the Middle School for 'RUOK? Day'.

'The Big Splash'

Scotch has teamed up with Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to be a part of their 'The Big Splash', a mental health awareness programme. I will be explaining more about this in coming months. It represents a fantastic opportunity to open up deeper conversations regarding youth mental health. Schools have a responsibility to provide young people with the skills to look after their own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of people around them. Being able to talk about mental health issues and how to achieve and maintain good mental health is hard, but really important. We hope that 'The Big Splash' will provide another pathway towards making our young men more comfortable discussing these important topics.

Tackling Exam Stress

The 'Tackling Exam Stress' course (Years 10-12) has started and will run every Wednesday from 3.45pm - 5.00pm right through to Week 2 of the holidays. Helen Heppingstone takes the students through a series of techniques that help them to manage stress and to relax their bodies and minds. As with any skill, the more we practice these things, the better we get at regulating ourselves. Places are still available and I cannot emphasise the benefits of this course strongly enough.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing