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Headmaster's Blog: Teach, coach, practise and prepareWe so much want the students to do well that we guide every step, tell them what to do, to write, sometimes even what to think. And, for much of the time, that is fair enough. But we need too to be able to let go.


Date published: Mon 23 Apr 2018  


When you think of the trials and tribulations of the March snow, it’s heartwarming to have basked in some sunshine on our return after Easter. And, as IB candidates get ready to start, to have seen and heard cricket starting on our superb grounds.

The opening 1st XI game (against my old school) was an entertaining one, and watching a bit of it, our Assistant Director (soon to be Director) of Sport was talking to me about how cricket, unusually for a school sport, has little chance for the coach once the game is on. The rugby or football coach can carry on with the ‘advice’ throughout… the cricket coach can only prowl the boundary. The boys have to get on and do it themselves.

A bit like a microcosm of teaching in fact. We so much want the students to do well that we guide every step, tell them what to do, to write, sometimes even what to think. And, for much of the time, that is fair enough. But we need too to be able to let go. In the ‘old days’, when staff were allowed into the exam hall to see the paper, I did my fair share of desperate attempts at thought-transference (‘please, please do question 7b not 6a … you must be able to see that’s just like the one we practised… can’t you?’). But you can’t do it for them.

This is not a bad time for teachers to remember that. We teach, coach, practise and prepare. We rehearse and advise. Then they go out and, we hope, perform. As they have to. Clichéd though it may a bit be now, one of my favourite texts for this time of year is that moving poem by Poet Laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis (father of Oscar winner Daniel, and to whose brother the poem is addressed), Walking Away. Every parent and every teacher knows it instinctively, even as we prowl the boundary mumbling away to ourselves!

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