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Headmaster's Blog: Rising to new and interesting challengesA zest for following an interest, can lead to great things

Date published: Mon 15 Jan 2018  

Congratulations to some boys in the middle of the School this week: to the U16 indoor hockey team, who won the national title in our own home sports centre, beating Dean Close (again) in a tense and tough final. Tough, because at this level all indoor hockey is: they showed great mental strength. To the same year group’s footballers, who won their (also tight) cup game. And, individually, to Upper Third former Kai Lam, who has come runner-up in the Trinity College Cambridge-sponsored National Cypher Challenge. An exceptional achievement.

This last week, we’ve been interviewing prospective pupils, and finding out how they tackle challenge. Not a spoiler alert, this, just an obvious thing you’d want to find out at a school like Whitgift. Over Christmas, I decided that in 2018 I would try to learn some Arabic, my probably unrealistic challenge to myself, and it’s jolly tough (am I going to manage my own challenge?). A ray of light came today in my ten-words-a-day course when I realised that ‘sadiq’ (as in the name) means ‘friend’. I can remember that. Hearing some boys on Friday telling me about their learning of Japanese, or, now, Korean, made me pretty ashamed to be so feeble in my own learning.

Because what our learners show us adults is that a zest for following an interest (as opposed to just letting it slip by), can lead to great things. One of the boys with whom I had the pleasure of lunching last week told me about the Korean, another about sports psychology, another about medicine.

What’s interesting? That’s the question. One of the things that’s interesting about indoor hockey is the psychological and closely-calculated nature of the tactics. One of the things that’s interesting about Korean is that it has no links - none - with other Asian languages. One of the things that’s interesting about determinism, described by the chaplain in this week’s Prism talks, is that what we think of as freedom (Darwin’s Origin of Species, freeing us from Biblical roots) may actually be condemning us to behave like all people of all times...

So, for all our exceptional achievements, the question should be: what’s interesting, what’s worth discussing, from that? Well done, to all those who’ve had a good week or weekend or start to the term. What has it made you wonder or think or ask?


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