From the Principal

Welcome to week six of Term 4. The past week has finally given us a taste of some nicer weather, and with it we might allow ourselves the hope that long hot days on the beach are just around the corner. With three weeks for the senior students and four for the juniors I remind everyone that we need to finish the year off positively and carry our efforts through to the end.

We have had a delightful first half of the term with the Year 12’s finishing off extremely well and the rest of the student body being settled and productive. I especially encourage our senior students who completed their exam period to focus on their studies for the next three weeks to ensure they get themselves off to the best possible start for next year and set themselves up to achieve results commensurate with their ability. I wish all students in Years 7 to 10 good luck as they prepare for exams over the coming weeks.

As we enter into the third week of Year 12 exams the examiners have told us that things have been running very smoothly. All students I have spoken to appear to be pretty happy with the way things have gone for them which we hope will translate into results which a true reflection of their ability and their efforts. A significant part of our student’s success is due to the work done by staff over the past six years leading up to this point. The College wishes to thank all staff, in particular our Year 12 subject teachers for their efforts in bringing this fine group of young men to this point in their lives. In particular the College would like to thank the staff involved in making the exams run smoothly for their organization and preparations. To those students who have finished congratulations and to those still going we wish them luck and encourage them to remain focused until the end.

As I reflect on the boys undertaking exams and hope with all my heart that they have worked hard and given themselves every opportunity to meet their expectations as well as ours I worry a little about the pressure our students face as they strive for ‘success’. Firstly I ask have we done enough to prepare the boys for the exams but probably more importantly have we done enough to prepare the boys for life after the exams. Have we reassured them that their results, whilst we hope are good are merely an indicator of where they are at with regards understanding of their subjects, they are not an indicator of their worth as a person. Have we given them the resilience to bounce back if things don’t go as they would like.

With this in mind I share the following reflection in anticipation that it may provide a sense of hope in the coming weeks. It has been said that uninterrupted success is less satisfying than success intertwined with failure. I would argue that this is not rocket science.  A study at a major university concluded that success may be sweeter, but failure is the better teacher. We have a tendency to ignore failure or to try not to focus on it. Vital lessons for the future are overlooked in the rush to put a brave face on disappointment.

How many students feel downcast because they fare worse than their friends in outcomes, tests and exams? Society has brainwashed us into thinking that education is an obstacle race where one must clear every fence faster and higher that other students taking these results out of context.

Our world is a success-crazed place, that puts very simple measures on what it is to be successful and sadly this has spilled over into the world of school exams and results. If you have a low-paid job, you’re not enough. If you drive an old car, there is something wrong with you. If you cannot stick to your diet, but sneak down to the kitchen in the middle of the night for a biscuit, you are weak.

Such is the social stigma attached to failure that people who have failed, for whatever reason, go into denial. They pretend everything is hunky-dory when they would be better taking stock of their lives and working out how to learn from the setback.

Most successful people have either come up the hard way or had to overcome periods of chronic self-doubt, when the whole world seemed to be against them.

Winston Churchill was absolutely miserable at school. J K Rowling received a mountain of rejection slips before finding a publisher for the Harry Potter novels. There are hundreds of examples of people who learned from their failures, bounced back and found success.

Could any of them have achieved the success they did if their lives had been an effortless progression from triumph to triumph? Perhaps but it is more likely that it was the determination born in failure that put steel in their soul.

Nowhere is the galvanising effect of failure more evident, than in sport. The winner takes the prize, but losers are not crushed: they grit their teeth and vow to try harder next time. They have a never-say-die spirit.  The history of sport is littered with heroes who refused to feel sorry for themselves when they were down. Failure? They did not know the meaning of the word.

Of course we should not romanticise losing or getting a poor result but we do need to fight, tooth and nail, the perception that failure is a terminal disease, its sufferers doomed. So often, in every walk of life, but especially at school, it can be a wake-up call, heralding a new start.

Acknowledgement: Max Davidson

Please enjoy a few quotes that may provide inspiration as we face the challenges that lay ahead:

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.

Sir Winston Churchill

Try and fail but don’t fail to try.

Stephen Kaggwa

There is no failure except in no longer trying.

Elbert Hubbard

Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure…it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.

Robert Schuller

Have a great week and God Bless.

Rob Brennan