Rector’s eNews – 08 June 2022/ Rector's eNews
You will be expecting me to let you know of substantial progress related to the hockey incident of some 12 days ago in order to add to my comments in last week’s eNews that the independent legal consultant appointed to investigate this matter would be reviewing video footage and statements of some boys and staff both at Michaelhouse and St John’s and discussing matters related to those statements with relevant boys and staff. However, I can do no more than say that the consultant conducted interviews at Michaelhouse last Tuesday and was in Johannesburg at St John’s yesterday; she is due at Michaelhouse again today to follow up with one person and will need to conduct one more interview online with a person at St John’s. She will then need to write the report, which is due to be handed to the Executive Head of St John’s and me by next Wednesday. Until we receive this report, it is difficult to establish precisely how we will proceed, and I believe that we simply need to be patient at present.
Last week, with much more pressing matters at hand, I aborted my discussion of the seven key elements which are important in the development of teenagers according to Robin Cox, the one-time Housemaster of Founders who, subsequently, became a renowned mentor of young people in New Zealand and Australia. We have covered his views that teenagers need to set clear and attainable goals, develop interests/passions outside of the academic realm and take responsibility for organising themselves. The fourth key element on which he bases his guidance is the notion that teenagers need to develop an understanding of the value of interdependence. On the one hand, there are increasing levels of anxiety and depression among many teenagers and this has, apparently, been exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic during which, not surprisingly, a greater degree of individualism has emerged throughout the world. Young people have become more used to being by themselves and, not surprisingly, have become more entrepreneurial and agile in relationships, but there is, within teenagers, he argues a natural aptitude for wanting to belong to a team and to playing an important role within that team of peers.
It is a natural phenomenon that teenagers begin to lean more on peers during adolescence and to push away, to a certain extent, from parents and other adults, but he underlines the importance for teenagers of having at least three significant adults in their lives. These adults ideally model values of respect, kindness, honesty and trust and guide teenagers to understand the benefits of embracing such values; the expression of these qualities by teenagers to others in their association leads to affirmation by their peers which, in turn, leads to their feeling content.
One of Cox’s messages is that it is ironic that, whilst adolescents often seem to be distancing themselves from parents and other adults, those people continue to be of great significance in their lives if those adults can nurture and empathise with the young through guiding them in this way. I suspect that most parents have experienced that very phenomenon of being pushed away and yet valued at the same time. As teenagers mature, they demonstrate, to an increasing degree, the extent to which they value guidance of parents and other significant adults; and so the message for today is to “hang in” if your son (or daughter) is not there yet.