13 August 2018

Patchwork Quilts and Kintsugi

There are many ways to look at Wellbeing and many analogies are used to explain it. One which I like is a patchwork quilt. A patchwork quilt takes time and love to put together. It takes small pieces of material and stitches them together to make something beautiful and practical. Its overall usefulness far outweighs the sum of its parts. In many ways, this is what wellbeing is about; it is about sourcing and then putting together the skills which, over time, can keep us healthy and helpful to others. What I also like about quilts is their mobility – they are something you can take with you and use as needed, something you can curl up with in front of a fire on a cold, wet and miserable day when your mood matches the weather. A patchwork quilt, like a strong sense of wellbeing, can help to change how you feel.

Kintsugi (meaning "golden joinery") is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted with gold, silver or platinum. This artwork has a practical element to it: it is a way of making use of something which may appear damaged or imperfect. These pieces are incredible, and are actually stronger as a result of their kintsugi. This, too, we hope, is the effect that wellbeing will have; not only overcoming any challenges that get in our way, helping to repair ourselves when we suffer setbacks, and enabling us to come back stronger than before, but also being proud of the scars of life. Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. If an object is well-used, it will suffer wear and tear. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.

Things can actually become more beautiful, more effective, through the passage of time and the enduring of hardship. Like the laugh-lines on a face, we should not try to hide these, but celebrate them. These lines are the lines that describe a life lived in its entirety. Even the most well-made piece of porcelain is not perfect, and we should recognise this same fact in humans. We all need repairs at some stage, and those repairs can allow us to function better than before.

Brain Reset

As we approach the examination period for Years 11 and 12, we will again be running our Brain Reset sessions with Helen Heppingstone after school. These sessions are designed to help the students better manage their stress. They do this through learning to relax their bodies, which then allows them to learn how to relax their minds. This enhances the capacity to remember and enables each person to get more out of their time. Some people think there is not much to be gained from using mindfulness and meditation, but this gymming for the mind. And like going to the gym, if we only do something once or twice, we cannot expect to gain much benefit from it.

Students who attended the last set of sessions provided overwhelmingly positive feedback. I have spoken to the Year 12s about this twice and have also contacted the Year 11s. I would ask you to strongly encourage your son to attend – the sessions are free and the greatest benefit is gained by regular attendance. This should become a part of your son's routine in the lead-up to the exams. The sessions will run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this time, to accommodate students who have after-school activities.

  • Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 August (3.45-4.30pm) (Week 5)
  • Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 August (3.45-4.30pm) (Week 6)
  • Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 September (3.45-4.30pm) (Week 7)
  • Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 September (3.45-4.30pm) (Week 8 – Year 11 exams)
  • Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 September (3.45-4.30pm) (Week 9 – Year 11 exams)
  • Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 September (3.45-4.30pm) (Holidays Week 1 Year 12 exams)

We will also be running similar sessions with Year 7 students during school time on Friday afternoons after the end of the Winter Sport season. The earlier our boys can learn these skills, the better for their long-term wellbeing. The dates are:

  • Friday afternoon 1.15-3.15pm 24 August (Week 5)
  • Friday afternoon 1.15-3.15pm 31 August (Week 6)
  • Friday afternoon 1.15-3.15pm 7 September (Week 7)
  • Friday afternoon 1.15-3.15pm 14 September (Week 8)

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing