April 20, 2022

Rector’s eNews – 20 April 2022

/ Rector's eNews

I hope that you have had a Happy Easter and an excellent opportunity to re-engage with your sons over the past couple of weeks. As you know, it has been an incredibly wet period over much of South Africa and particularly here in KwaZulu-Natal. I know that some of our families have been affected by this and we hold them in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time for them.

With the boys only having arrived back at school last evening, term has officially only been underway for less than a day, but there is a palpable sense of purpose in the air as the boys approach their activities.

In assembly this morning, I spoke about the fact that we have a very full term ahead of us and, particularly with most boys giving considerable focus to the winter sports season, it is important that they should maximise their learning opportunities in lessons each day and in prep each evening when they settle to academic tasks. I spoke to the boys about being active learners and asked them to consider what the difference between an active and a passive learner might be. In short, an active learner drives his own learning while a passive learner is driven in his learning by the teacher concerned. For an active learner, there is a high level of involvement in lessons and in prep time; he will seek answers for himself and ask questions when he doesn’t understand. He will prepare for lessons attempting to foresee the next step relating to an academic problem or issue and these characteristics will lead to his actually enjoying his work so much more. A passive learner will, as I have said, be driven by a teacher who sets the agenda and he may take notes in class and do his prep, but he won’t ask questions when he doesn’t understand or really get on top of a subject. The work of a passive learner is done because he has to do it rather than because he wants to do it. An active learner does not necessarily have to spend more time in the learning process, but it is time that is better directed and more focused than that of the passive learner. A greater sense of enjoyment is also derived from it.

I also spoke to the boys about behaviour and attitude. This entails valuing their place at Michaelhouse as they would in any team which they may represent. As a team member, they are expected to contribute positively to their team and this may well require them to make adjustments to do what they need to in order to fulfil a particular role whether it is at centre-link or scrumhalf or any other position. If boys let their team down and don’t fulfil the requirements for their position, then they forfeit their place in the team. In simple terms, they are dropped. I explained that this metaphor carries through to their conduct because if they bully in a way which has a significant impact, or if they break other important rules, or if they have little regard for the reputation of the school, or if there is an accumulation of smaller issues where they have broken the rules, then they lose their place in the Michaelhouse team. I have tried to explain that those people who lose their place at Michaelhouse cause immense distress to their families, their friends and to themselves. So I encouraged them to think before they act stupidly or out of character or maliciously as the reality is that there is a replacement waiting to come off the bench from other boys who desperately want to be here. So I urged them to value their place at Michaelhouse for this and many other reasons.

I also spoke to the boys about the person that they are becoming and whether they are humble, empathetic, understanding of other people, prepared to serve, prepared to display integrity and honesty and prepared to be supportive of others. Or, alternatively, are they only driven by what they can get out of life for themselves? As you well know, personal characteristics and attributes are so very important in the workplace. These are not suddenly acquired through a post-graduate MBA or another similar qualification; they are developed slowly through family and through school. Our attitude and everything that we do as young people underpins our future prospects and this is why it is fundamentally important that there should be an alignment between the values that young people have and their thinking and actions.

On another topic, we have Luke Lamprecht visiting us tomorrow and speaking to the boys in various groups; Luke is widely regarded as the most knowledgeable person in South Africa on matters of child protection and development. He is a specialist in the area of safeguarding and, following issues that have been reported in other schools and because we do not wish to be complacent in this or other areas, our boys and staff will have the opportunity to engage with him.

Read the full Rector’s eNews here

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