Senior Headmaster's Blog: 'If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late'

This week, the debate about the impact of mobile phones on young people has hit the media once more, and for good reason.  The commitment of social media companies to improving the way in which they operate has come into question, and it has raised issues over who should be taking responsibility.  This can lead to an unhelpful round of seeking to blame others, and a failure to take responsibility at every level.  The reach of social media is so wide, that we have to teach users how to use this well, set high values as a community for what we expect, and develop a corporate structure that recognises and promotes its social responsibility as well.  

Although social media is relatively new, and the pace of change of technology can be alarming, the principles of behaviour remain the same.  We must set high standards that are reinforced by the community, and educate the individual to appreciate and value those standards.  This applies as much for uniform, classroom behaviour, punctuality and other issues as it does for use of mobile technology.
On Monday, I spoke to the school about the importance of some of these basics around behaviour.  In Chapel, I want there to be an opportunity for quiet reflection.  This is all the more important in such a hectic world, where peace and quiet are hard to come by, and it only takes one person to break the calm of 500, so it takes real discipline (and respect for others).  I have also asked pupils to make sure that the little details around uniform are given appropriate attention.  Again, this is a good discipline (in the sense of 'discere' - to learn), but it is also a sign of respect for oneself, and the school.  
I asked pupils to take steps to eliminate lateness.  There is a great quote by the famous American Football coach, Vince Lombardi - 'if you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late'.  Lombardi time was a watchword for me, growing up, as my rugby coach at school always talked to us about being on time, Lombardi time.  Nobody ever gets in trouble for being early, so if you are going to err one way or another, far better to be early than late!  Also, you never know what you might miss if you are late: it could be the best moment of the lesson.

As a Housemaster, I had a reputation for being obsessed with tidiness.  I have to admit that I have always been much better with tidiness of others than myself, but again, I do think that it is important to keep your area tidy.  This is especially true in a shared environment; after all, who are you expecting to tidy up for you?  It shows respect for the house and your peers, and keeping your books in an organised fashion is helpful to you as well, when it comes to work or revision, so it can only be a positive for you.  I would say the same with politeness, and saying please and thank you costs nothing, but can improve everything.  Little things do make a difference.
Please do talk to your sons and daughters about these things.  We are talking to them here as well, and if we put all of the little things together, we will make a big difference, both now at school, but also in terms of developing skills that will benefit everyone in the future.

Chris Townsend


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