Rector’s eNews – 04 May 2022/ Rector's eNews
Last week was a very full week with an excellent production of the Audrey Mbuyazi musical, The Signs, running until Friday evening. This production saw our boys on stage with a local school, Shea O’Connor, and was very much enjoyed by the full houses to which the thespians played on several evenings. The opportunity which our boys had to work alongside another such school was important to them and something of a logistical nightmare with the schools situated quite some distance from each other. All credit, therefore, must go to the creator of the musical and director, one of our parents, Audrey Mbuyazi. More detail of the production follows below.
On Saturday, the long-awaited clash with Hilton College took place at Hilton and, though we lost in the 1st Hockey and Rugby matches, we acquitted ourselves creditably with boys giving of their very best in all of the teams. In the upshot, we won slightly more matches than we lost, but all were played in an excellent spirit, befitting such an occasion. Again, more detail follows below.
On Thursday last week I had a visit from Robin Cox, one-time Housemaster of Founders, who went on to enjoy a significant career in school leadership and who had particular success in the realm of mentoring, guiding and supporting teenagers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand. He is what one may call a “thought leader” in relationship-building and in helping young people to grow in confidence and direction in their lives.
Robin is a prolific author in the realm of mentoring teenagers and has recently collated much of his advice over the years into his 18th publication called Choices. Much of his work refers to the work of internationally reputable psychiatrists and demonstrates a specialist knowledge of the working of the brain. The basis of Robin’s work is that the choices teenagers make define who they become and he suggests that there are seven key elements making up the choices framework. They are: having clear goals, developing important interests, organization, interdependence, consistency, a good exercise regime and service to others.
My intention is to comment on all of these over the next weeks and months in the eNews, not necessarily every week, but rather roughly every fortnight.
In his introduction, Robin speaks of the profound changes that occur during adolescence and the fact that the three most significant changes of the life cycle take place during this time. They are: the ability to reproduce, the establishment of an identity and the development of logical and rational thought processes. He also draws attention to the term “neuroplasticity” which refers to the brain’s ability to change as a result of experience and interaction with the environment. The brain grows, he says, and adapts in response to external stimuli, so it is malleable like some plastics. Adolescence is a time of great risk, and it is also a time of great opportunity. He likens the brain to a muscle which gets stronger as we use it. The converse is that if we don’t use the brain effectively, we lose the capacity to use parts of it. Other observations in his introduction are that Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, drew conclusions over 30 years of research that the most motivated and resilient students are those who believe that their abilities can be developed through their effort and learning. What matters, she says, is that intelligence is not a matter of being smart but of becoming smart. This is a lifelong journey. Cox further suggests that the psychologist, Jean Piaget and the educator and medical doctor Maria Montessori believed that a child’s mind develops in fits and starts followed by a period of consolidation and that this has been confirmed by recent brain development research.
Naturally, I am only referring to extracts from Robin’s work, but I am certain these notions chime with the observations of many of us.