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Senior Headmaster's Blog: The importance of reading

As you will probably be aware, Thursday of this week was World Book Day.  At Felsted, we celebrated it with our Literary Quiz, with thanks to Librarian, Nichola Howorth and her team.  It was a highly competitive event, with much argument over some of the answers, and a surprisingly physical finish, with a race to give the answers across the Grignon Hall.  Well done to Mont's, who were runners up, and Garnetts who became champions of 2020.

We became aware earlier in the week of some damage done to the Felsted Book Box (follow on Twitter @BookBoxFelsted), and I was so pleased that our Works team were able to go out and repair this, in support of this community initiative.  I was even more pleased that one of our Year 9 pupils volunteered their time and skills to help to restore the box, and that our library has agreed to support the initiative as well.  Meanwhile, Mr Pathak's wife, Katherine, (who used to teach History here as well) took a selfie at the Book Box, with some of her novels that she was sharing.  We are going to have to consider another Felsted Book Box, because of the rapidly growing popularity!

My book of choice for World Book Day was 'The Culture Code' (The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups) by Daniel Coyle.  It is well worth a read, if you have the chance, looking into how successful groups, from Pixar to the Navy Seals achieve what they do because of the strength of team, and community.  One of the stories told in the book is about a team of psychologists from Yale, Stamford and Harvard, who tested the impact of feedback on the performance of teenage students (and the same would apply for parents to children).  They found that the most effective feedback was not complicated, but could be brought down to one simple sentence:

'I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.'

It is a powerful reminder not to lower our expectations, always to ask for the best, and to be confident that in demanding the best, we will raise performance.  As a society we are often guilty of that with young people, and make excuses for not demanding the very best, but the research demonstrates that this causes worse outcomes, while setting the bar high will increase the drive to do well, and create a virtuous circle of improved performance, and behaviour as well.  So World Book Day has given me a lot to think about, and as a reminder of the importance of reading books, it is an important day in the calendar for all of us!

So, please do keep reading, keep promoting reading, and make use of the Felsted Book Box, situated on Garnetts Lane, to borrow and share books of interest with the local community.