May 26, 2021

Rector’s eNews – 26 May 2021

/ Rector's eNews

I hope that you enjoyed the long weekend/half-term with your sons and that they have returned to school in the right frame of mind to take on their June examinations which start tomorrow. Success in these exams give boys confidence for later examinations, such as those at the end of the year, and these ones are sufficiently spread out to enable the boys to give of their best even if they were to be simultaneously heavily engaged in their winter sports season. Please do encourage them to keep their heads down and to aim to excel, relative to their own capability.

It is unfortunate, in my view, that the decision made in government circles to suspend contact sport between schools was considered on a national, rather than a regional/provincial basis and, of course, there is uncertainty as to what the next steps might be for our boys. At present, we are likely to continue to engage in skills training related to our winter sports programme with the hope of a return to inter-schools rugby and hockey soon following petitions and representations to the Department of Basic Education, but we may need to adjust our thinking in this regard if there is no response as the boys thrive on competition against other schools and we would want to try to meet that need in a creative way if possible.

I have started considering in our weekly eNews aspects of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens as fuel for conversations with your sons (or other siblings) and will comment on the third of the habits today – this relates to Putting First Things First. In effect, this is something most adults do all the time: we prioritise because each day is filled with so many balls which we have to keep in the air. However, it is not necessarily a phenomenon which teenagers find easy to identify with as their lives are generally more programmed than ours: lessons start and end at a certain time when a bell rings and signifies that they should move on from one activity to another. It is suggested that the important parts of Habit Three lie in both the effective management of time and having the will power to meet what one needs to do.

Regarding the first of these, the time quadrant model which we have all, at some stage, seen divides time into four quadrants, reflecting things which are important or urgent to do. The important things relate to aspects our life mission and goals and could be something as simple as writing a birthday card to a friend, whilst the latter relate to pressing things demanding immediate attention such as deadlines.

Here is the quadrant model:

The first quadrant is where young people often spend too much time because they have left things until the last minute and therefore important things have been pushed aside by urgent things with the result that the important things have become both important and urgent (for example, cramming for an exam the night before taking it). People who regularly operate in this quadrant can find themselves under enormous stress and, because they have not spent sufficient time planning and preparing, the outcome can be mediocre. Ideally, we should be spending most of our time in Quadrant 2 and teenagers should be encouraged to balance their lives between their various activities and to plan to do so. This entails saying, at times, “no” to friends and peer pressure and “yes” to important commitments. Young people are, through planning, able to control their lives better so that their performance reflects their best efforts and they gain, through this, self-respect and the respect of others. Quadrant 3 is filled with urgent things that appear important but often they are things that are important to other people – such as receiving unimportant phone calls or dealing with the small problems of others. Ideally, young people should be encouraged to say no to unimportant things, rather than simply to please people by going along with them. The fourth quadrant is characterised by time-wasting, trivial activities, and irresponsible actions. The slacker spends too much time on social media and cannot prioritise anything leading to under performance and, ultimately, to a lack of satisfaction with himself.

It is suggested that teenagers need consciously to consider putting first things first by effective planning on a regular basis, blocking out time for events which are important such as sports practices, music rehearsals and similar activities and then working out what time is available to spend on other important events or activities. The complementary action related to this is to stick to what one has planned rather than veering off course and following the crowd. In essence, teenagers need to overcome peer pressure if they are to achieve at the optimum level relative to their own capacities and to feel the self-respect that comes from doing so.

Successful teenagers are disciplined, make sacrifices and persevere in doing the things that they sometimes don’t want to do because it leads them to be the best that they can be.

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