February 7, 2024

Rector’s eNews – 7 February 2024

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One of the phenomena which is of greatest benefit to boys in the context of a full boarding school is the development of their capacity to make life-long friends. I have been involved in a range of schools, some day and some a mixture of boarding and day, over the last decades and I have little doubt that those who are full boarders generally develop deep, long-lasting and satisfying friendships at school and that they continue to interact with their friends from school over their lives. Generally they have the ability to “pick up” with such friends from where they might have left off and to engage in supportive ways, seeking common purpose in later life. Indeed, the whole notion promoted by the Michaelhouse Old Boys’ Club is that the boys have joined a “Club for Life” where they can engage with and help each other as friends and colleagues throughout their lives.


However, establishing deep and lasting friendships is not immediately always so easy for those who are new to boarding: some take to being around others and getting to know them well very quickly and naturally, whilst others struggle to feel entirely at ease with those who will, in due course, become their closest friends. There are many factors which facilitate friendship: generosity of spirit, kindness, reliability, supportiveness and a good sense of humour being amongst those attributes.


The formation of friendships is extremely important to the well being of all of us and this is particularly so amongst adolescents. Some take a little longer than others to feel secure in friendships and to establish exactly who is on their wavelength, who supports them, challenges them, laughs with them and rejoices at their good fortune. Aristotle’s view was that friendship is based on both engaging in activities which bring pleasure and on mutual usefulness. Confucius had a view that  “no one really minds seeing a friend falling off a ladder”, but of course that is only to see one side of friendship and, naturally, having a sense of humour and, in particular, having the ability to laugh at oneself is a critical component of a friendship; we should not take ourselves too seriously.


In just over a week’s time, the boys will be going on their half-term break after a very challenging few weeks at the beginning of the year; it has been immensely busy, as it should have been, as they establish themselves in the context of a new school year and, for some, especially those who are new to boarding and also still seeking to establish friendships, the thought of returning to school may seem a little overwhelming. But terms and years have their cycles and there will be new and fresh opportunities for them in the latter half of the term to grow in solidarity with each other and to develop in new ways as they experience new situations in their lessons and other activities such as sport, music and societies. I urge those boys to have confidence in their capacity to build on the platform which they have established for themselves in the first weeks of the year and to continue to grow and develop friendships in all areas.


In assembly on Monday we prayed for our friendships in this way:


“God of love

We thank you for the gift of friendship

for new friends who open up fresh horizons

for old friends who are always there when we need them

for all those with whom we share our joys, our laughter, our problems, our real selves

for those who are loyal enough to show us our faults and still love us.

Above all we thank you for our truest friend

The one who will never abandon us

Jesus Christ, who died and rose again

And who now lives within us. Amen”


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