26 November 2018

A Book and a Play and a Sense of Wonder

I like the word 'wonder'. I think we should all take more time to wonder about things - wonder why things are as they are; and wonder how we can make things better. We should also take time to wonder at the world around us - it is full of wonder and we can all learn to appreciate that more.

Last week at Middle School assembly, I spoke to the boys about a book called Wonder. I was amazed and delighted by how many of the boys had read this book. It is a book that is all about courage and kindness: the courage to face great difficulty, the courage to show kindness, and the uplifting power of that same kindness for all who witness it.

It is a book about a boy who is different - he looks different, and because of this, he gets treated differently by those around him. In one sense, the book holds a mirror up to the way we have a tendency to be drawn to people who think and act and look like us. There is a sense of safety in that. But at the same time, Wonder shows us how rich life can be if we have the courage to accept and celebrate difference.

In a sense, the book is about the balance I mentioned in the last Thistle - not the removal of difficulties and unpleasantness from our lives, but learning to cope with them, learning from them, and the growing out of them. I don't think we should seek never-ending happiness. We can come at happiness in sharing and giving. Even deeper than happiness are contentment and satisfaction. These are derived from a sense of meaning and a sense of belonging.

In the novel, Wonder, the principal quotes JM Barrie: "Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?"

What a courageous choice that would be for a society to make. To move in that direction does not require much, just that each of us has the courage to show kindness more often.

Last week, I was fortunate to attend the dress rehearsal of the Year 6/7 Drama production, "Danny, the Champion of the World". It was an awesome show and the cast and crew should be very proud of their efforts. It takes courage to perform on stage. I particularly enjoyed the accents employed by the boys to bring their characters to life. When the characters moved in amongst the audience, there was a real sense of connection - the cast drawing the Year 6s into the story and the audience recognizing class mates and being proud to know them. There was a tangible sense of wonder at being a part of something greater than the individual, and there was also a strong sense of satisfaction at a job well done.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing