16 October 2017

Bravery vs Courage

At Senior School assembly at the end of Week 1, I spoke to the students about the difference between bravery and courage.

I used an example of three Scotch drummers who played at Speech Night. It was an amazing performance, a piece they had played once before at a School Assembly and played perfectly. At Speech Night, one of the young men dropped one of his drumsticks. The complexity of the piece meant this was something they had anticipated, and so he simply took out a spare drumstick and continued on, without missing a beat.

I think that all three of those young men showed bravery when they first got up to play the piece for the first time at assembly. That piece of music had never been performed in public before, and to do that in front of your school and your peers is brave. But none of them really knew what to expect that day.

I think their courage was shown when they got up at Speech Night. They knew what it was going to be like; the pressure and the expectation, particularly having done it once without any mistakes. And I think that the young man who dropped his stick actually showed extra courage: the courage that is to be found in going on with what you set out to do when you'd rather walk off stage. When you know everyone is watching you to see if you make another mistake, and to come through that without putting another stick wrong, that to me takes courage.

There are different levels of bravery and courage. You don't have to be rushing in to a burning building and dragging people out to be displaying either. But this is the point: it is brave to rush into a burning building the first time, but it takes courage to rush back in when you have been in there once already. It is brave to start a task when you are not sure of the outcome; it takes courage to start again when you know how hard something is. Bravery is an instinct whereas courage is a considered choice. When you know the challenge facing you - and you go on with it - that takes courage. And it takes courage to carry on when things go wrong. Bravery is what you need to get going; courage is what it takes to keep going.

There are different types of courage: to stand up for what you know to be right; to be kind; to be creative; to express what we consider to be important in the world. Sometimes, it takes courage just to get up in the morning and face the day. It takes courage to express how we are feeling, and to admit our vulnerability. But when we show such courage, we are better people, and those around us are lifted by our actions. Without courage, little else is possible. Being courageous is a habit. I hope we can all be a little more courageous in order to make the world a better place.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing