18 June 2018

Aware and Honest

Many of our senior students have just completed their exams. Preparing for and sitting exams is challenging; getting the results presents a different type of challenge. We hope to do better next time, but we have to take conscious steps in order for that to happen.

For change to occur, firstly we need to be aware of our present circumstances. As Einstein said, it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. We must be aware of what got us to where we are and we must be aware of the possible paths before us. We must also be honest with ourselves about how hard we have worked and how smart we have been with our time. We must also be honest enough to admit when we need help.

Awareness is a key element of dealing with our emotions, and the emotions of others. Being aware of how we are feeling should then enable us to name those feelings. Putting a name to the emotion is a big step towards dealing with it. Research shows that naming a negative emotion lessens it. Our fears often lie at the bottom of our emotions. Naming and facing our fears is also important. Often, we fear being inadequate, or unworthy, or vulnerable. Exams can create the environment for such fears to take hold. Feeling inadequate or unworthy can make us feel ashamed and, that, in turn can lead us to anger. This process can then become a vicious cycle.

We have talked as a school, and will continue to do so, about the concepts of "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset". A fixed mindset is one where we are stuck doing the same thing and yet hope for a different result. In a fixed mindset, we do not believe we can change. In a growth mindset, we see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow and get better at something. With a growth mindset, we have agency over our future. Hard work that is targeted can make a difference. This is a paradigm shift in how to approach life.

At exam time, it is good to be reminded that "This is awful" does not equal "I am awful". Bad results do not make me a bad person. How terrible that we should ever define a human being by their performance in a set of tests. "I have failed this time" is not the same as "I am a failure all the time", and the two should never be conflated. Helping our boys to develop a growth mindset is critical to strengthening their resilience. We can do this by helping them to keep things in perspective. We can do this by getting them to think about their strengths (we all have them) and how we can build on these. We can do this by reminding them to be aware and honest about their preparation, attitude and effort.

The truth is that we are all tested every day. And each day, all of us fail at countless small things. Every interaction we have - from the moment we wake up until the moment we drift off to sleep again - is an invitation. It is an invitation to make the world a better place; to try harder; and to do things better next time.

SchoolTV

Parents will hopefully have seen some of the correspondence coming from both Senior and Middle Schools regarding "13 Reasons Why". I recently received a link from SchoolTV regarding the series and I thought it was worth sharing with you: http://scotch.wa.schooltv.me/wellbeing_news/13-reasons-why-special-report.

This is a special report, in the form of a 6 ½ minute video. It is actually a very succinct examination of some of the key issues related to the programme and the way it deals with the difficult topic of suicide. I urge you to watch it, particularly if your children have watched or intend to watch the show. Having a conversation about these issues can help to challenge some of the weaknesses of the series. It will also hopefully prompt a broader conversation about maintaining positive wellbeing.

You may also like to visit the general SchoolTV website: http://scotch.wa.schooltv.me/category-latest-newsletter. More recent editions cover topics from "Surviving Year 12", "Diet and Nutrition", Eating Disorders" and "Physical Activity and Exercise".

Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing
Mr James Hindle