Our recent Awards Night was a wonderful evening of celebration for us all.
It is important that we celebrate who we are and what we have achieved each year. Every year we await with feelings of anticipation or doom the outcome of our major sporting competitions. Year after year, the cups, trophies and prizes stay in the possession of one team or are won by another team. We experience feelings of excitement or disappointment.
One of the best attributes we can try to develop in ourselves is a sense of perspective. Boris Becker, showed a sense of perspective in 1987, when, as defending champion, he was knocked out of Wimbledon in the second round by the 70th ranked player in the world. The media went crazy but he said, “Nobody died here. I lost a tennis match.”
Try to picture a mathematics class. A question is asked. The students look down at their desks. There is a feeling of panic in the classroom. Then the teacher breaks the terrified silence. “What’s the worst that can happen if you get this answer wrong right now?” You can see the relief on the students’ faces as they understand they can have a go at answering the question without looking silly if they get it wrong.
True education is a lifelong journey. Some people say your school days are the best of your life but that is mainly because they are remembering what it was like being young. The big, wide world awaits each child with wonderful opportunities.
And so I say to each of our students; If we understand that broad perspective of true education, it cannot possibly be the case that everything is achieved at school. When you get your first promotion, see the Grand Canyon for the first time, look into the eyes of your first child, you will not be worrying about whether you got an A or a B in your exam, or which class you were in or whether you got a prize.
Those things are important now because you should be wanting to do your best, to achieve your potential for your age now, but you have many more achievements and challenges ahead of you. What you achieve at school will then be seen from the perspective of the new life you are leading.
Winning a prize is wonderful and we celebrate every student who has achieved this honour. But even if you are not on the prize list, you know in your heart whether you have done your best this year, been ambitious for yourself, set goals and achieved them, made further steps along your learning journey.
Our prize-winners today form a very special group. We are incredibly proud of them and they should be proud of themselves. But if you link motivation to winning prizes in life, you set yourself up for disappointment. This is when you need a sense of perspective.
Because the greatest prize of all is when you can look yourself in the eye and say, “I tried my absolute best and I know I’ve done the best I can”.
My best wishes to all members of our school community for a peaceful, happy Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all in 2017.