18 June 2018

Headmasters' Reflections

Welcome to our final Thistle for 2015.

This time of year always seems to come around far too quickly and for some reason 2015 feels to have disappeared in a blink of an eye. I am sure this is a by-product of how much happens throughout the year and the pace at which things occur.

There is much to admire and celebrate throughout the course of a school year and last Friday was no exception with our Year 12 Valedictory Chapel and Dinner. This was the largest held in the history of our College with some 630 people attending. Our Year 12 group, numbering 209, is the biggest single group of graduands to which we have bid farewell. I would like to acknowledge and thank all of the people involved in making the evening such a great success. Congratulations to all of our Year 12s, their families and our staff for ensuring that this group of boys finished their schooling in such a positive manner. I look forward to hearing about the boys' successes as they enter a new phase of their lives.

In the course of a school year our boys learn many things, not just in the classroom, but through their co-curricular programmes and their interactions with each other. Learning doesn't always mean experiencing success. Many of the great lessons in life result from making mistakes, experiencing disappointment and facing unexpected challenges. Richard Rohr in his book Falling Upward (2012, p28, p31) addresses how important it is that we are allowed to make mistakes and in fact it is a crucial part of our development. He makes an important point for all of us in addressing why 'falling' as he refers to is so important.

'We are parts of social and family ecosystems that are rightly structured to keep us from falling but also, more Important, to show us how to fall and how to learn from that very falling. We are not helping our children by always preventing them from what might be necessary falling, because you learn how to recover from falling by falling. It is precisely by falling off the bike many times that you eventually learn what balance feels like. People who have never allowed themselves to fall are actually off balance, while not realising it at all.

If you want a job done well, on time, with accountability and no excuses, you had best hire someone who has faced a few limit situations. He or she alone has the discipline, the punctuality, the positive self-image, and the persistence to do a good job. If you want the opposite, hire someone who has been coddled and been given 'I Am Special' buttons for doing nothing special.'

What does this mean for building resilience in our boys? The answer is simple. We all have to ensure that our boys learn to deal with success and failure. Rescuing them from challenging situations is not always the best answer. Allowing boys to seek their own solutions to problems is healthy. As I said to our graduating Year 12s in my Chapel address on Friday, they must have the courage to lead from where they are now. They should not look to blame others for things that may not work out as planned; they need to take control of their own destiny. As the Year 12s leave the confines and safety that a college such as Scotch provides, they must not define themselves via a lifetime of excuses, they must become the architects of their own destiny.

I sincerely hope that 2015 has provided an array of experiences for every one of our boys to grow and flourish whether they are in Year 1 or in Year 12. We have had much to celebrate in 2015 and there is much to look forward to in 2106, which like all new years will bring unexpected challenges and rewards. Thank you for all the support you have given to the College and me throughout this year. I look forward to continuing our journey in 2016.

On behalf of my own family, Janny, Abbey and Grady, I would like to take this opportunity to wish our whole community a safe and joyous Christmas and New Year.

Regards and God Bless

Dr A J O'Connell