Start of Term Address - Lent 2021
Happy New Year to you all! I am pleased that at least you can see the Cathedral for our start-of-term service, even if you are unable to be in it.
I hope you have enjoyed a good holiday with your families despite the restrictions. This is partly because you all deserved a good rest after your epic efforts last term. However, with what we know now, I also hope you have had a good holiday because of the positive outlook and energy you will need for the unusual circumstances of the coming term!
The external situation and our reaction to it
There is considerable medium-term optimism that 2021 will see us emerge from the restrictions caused by Covid. However, there is no doubt that in the short-term, the uncertainties and compromises will continue.
I have a rock-solid confidence that the Norwich School community will not just survive, but thrive.
We have shown it in the two disrupted terms we have experienced already, and we will show it again in this third term.
Reasons for optimism
The good thing about the last nine months is that they have reminded us of why we do things. Previously, we were often so busy that we did things because they were there to be done. Now, with their removal from our routines, we have had to work harder to do the things that we find valuable and enjoy.
As coronavirus continues to impact our school, the world around us and our families, I have never been more passionate about the mission of our school.
Our collective sense of purpose has been strengthened by the challenges we have faced and we have shown an indomitability in our approach, a refusal to give up in the face of adversity.
Therefore, be positive about term ahead. Set goals in different aspects of provision and make the most of what is available.
Don’t let this coronavirus term just happen to you; choose what you want to do to make the most of the opportunities you will have.
How to set about it
We continue with our holistic provision to create rounded individuals; it is a key concept in our value system.
You may remember the five ways to wellbeing talked about in previous Tutorial lessons:
- Keep learning,
- Stay active,
- Take notice.
Do it daily while we are not together; there is no need for all five every day but it is particularly worth going back to the checklist if feeling a bit down or disconnected.
If you had an adolescent eye roll as the Head Master went through a list you already know well, try another, simpler list: Head, Hand, Heart.
- Head (cerebral, intellectual activities),
- Hand (practical, perhaps creative or physical, activities),
- Heart (caring, altruistic activities).
Recognise that there are different, inter-connected parts to your experience and take care to nurture each of them.
Thinking of others
I have spoken about looking after yourself, but thought for others is also particularly important at time like this. When one is tempted to feel self-pity about the restrictions in our context, it is relatively easy to think of people in tougher situations.
I am even more determined that Norwich School will be a force for good, both by maintaining educational momentum for the young people currently in our care and by helping others in the wider community.
I encourage you to get involved with or suggest any such initiatives during this term.
Indomitability of Purpose
I close with two case studies about an indomitability of purpose as that will be a key quality for us to display.
He is the most successful F1 driver ever. In 2020, he won his 7th world title to equal Michael Schumacher’s record, in addition, he holds the outright records for the most wins (95), pole positions (98) and podium finishes (164).
There is always a balance between man and machine, but it is accepted that he is simply blessed with an extraordinary ability to make cars go fast.
He also won the BBC Sports Personality of Year for second time in 2020, both for the above achievements but also because of his prominence in promoting global racial equality and environmental issues.
Hamilton’s indomitability of purpose can be seen through his ability to learn from setbacks:
Mercedes chief engineer, Andrew Shovlin, states, “You can’t ask Lewis to be happy when he’s lost a race; that’s not how he works. But he loses really well if you want someone to come back and win the next one. He’s actually better at losing than most I’ve seen because of how diligently he goes through the block of work of understanding what he needs to be better, where did he miss the opportunities. He doesn’t enjoy it, but it’s about the result at the next race."
Another example of Hamilton’s indomitability of purpose is the context of his achievements:
Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s boss at Mercedes, relates “[Lewis] asked me once, ‘Have you ever had the active thought that you are white?’ And I replied, ‘I have never thought about it.’ He said, ‘I think about it [the fact that I’m black] every day.’" Wolff continues, “Imagine you enter the [F1] paddock and you are the only white person and how difficult that would be. I guess it would make you think about your skin colour every day.”
All of Hamilton’s achievements should be seen through the prism of their achievement in a sport which has lacked diversity throughout his career. One of Hamilton’s favourite lines after races, whether won or lost, is “And still we rise”, an adaptation from the famous Maya Angelou poem. It speaks to an extraordinary drive to achieve the goals he sets himself.
Whatever your view of her music, Taylor Swift has had an impressive growth from child star to global influence across a range of issues. She has risen from a background in the conservative world of country music to being comfortable using her voice. She has challenged sexist attitudes in the music industry and she is known for recording original material.
She also stands up for her beliefs on matters such as gay rights in febrile climate of American politics. In terms of indomitability of purpose in response to Covid restrictions: with Folklore and Evermore, she produced not one but two albums, an explosion of creative output.
I hope these and other examples will inspire you to make the most of the term ahead.
Good luck to all and stay in touch with your friends, family and teachers. We will get through it together.