July 20, 2022

Rector’s eNews – 20 July 2022

/ Rector's eNews

At our assembly held yesterday to mark the beginning of the new term, we welcomed two new members of staff: firstly, Mr Brendan Gittins who has joined us as our new Deputy Head: Pupils from Jeppe Boys High School in Johannesburg. Mr Gittins was Deputy Head at Jeppe and had previously been Head of the Commerce Faculty, Director of Sport, Housemaster and had an oversight of the finance, marketing, media relations and admissions at the school. He happens, also, to have been involved in the Golden Lions U16 rugby coaching group. So he is very experienced and versatile. He is married to Charné and has a young child, Jack.

Then we welcome Ms Alice Krusekopf who has joined us as a part-time Mathematics teacher. Ms Krusekopf is a dedicated Mathematician having been Head of Department at The Wykeham Collegiate for about 10 years, apart from holding other leadership positions in education.

I would also like to congratulate Mr Dean Forword on his appointment to the Deputy Headship at Uplands College. Mr Forword has been acting as Deputy Head here over the past two terms and will return to his role as Housemaster in Founders until the end of the year and then take up his new appointment in January 2023. Well done to him!

I sometimes let you know what is being transmitted at our assemblies and this is especially so at the beginning of the term or after half-term when the boys need to reset their sights on where they are and what they are trying to achieve. Before I do this, I need to indicate that I have not forgotten about Robin Cox’s views on the seven key elements which might enhance the lives of teenagers and which can be discussed by trusted adults with them. I will return to this next week.

For the moment, my suggestion to the boys yesterday is that they might consider whether they are standing still, going backwards or making good progress in relation to their academic profile and in terms of themselves as people. I pointed out that self-evaluation is a difficult process because it is so much easier to dwell on the things that are going well for one and to push to the side areas for improvement. But the challenge is to look at oneself in the round and to have a spirited approach to taking up areas for improvement. In the academic realm, these areas are generally pointed out in a report which is designed to be analysed and thought through if boys are to make good progress. Often comments which jar the most create the biggest learning opportunities; if one adopts a positive attitude to areas for improvement and if boys realise that statements which could be perceived as negative provide opportunities for growth and take on the task of meeting those challenges, then significant progress happens. A similarity may lie in the sporting context where a coach may demonstrate how to develop a technical skill. In the same way, a pupil usually benefits from taking the advice of a teacher in a particular subject. So I encouraged boys to analyse the comments of their teachers and to discuss them with their teachers in order to make the required improvements. This will mean that they don’t stand still or move backwards, but make good progress.

The second aspect under review yesterday was my suggestion that boys should also consider their progress as people. Again, a report from a tutor or Housemaster will often focus on their interactions with others, how they are perceived and where there may be opportunities for development. Boys should also take into account what they know about themselves and consider whether they are embracing the time-honoured qualities and values which are important to their overall development. Do they have integrity, by which we mean wholeness of character? Are they compassionate? Are they truly becoming someone who could be called a significant man? Are qualities that are important running deep in them? Do their actions reflect the best of any religion, Christian or otherwise? I put it to them that the best qualities which we hope Michaelhouse would inspire them to adopt for themselves are the anthesis of arrogance, entitlement, bullying, thinking themselves important and demeaning others.

So my challenge to the boys is for them to consider the question at the end of this term: will they have stood still, will they have gone backwards or will they have made progress? I urged them not to let a day go by when they don’t think of how they are positioned relative to that question.

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