It was Bob Geldof who famously sang “I don’t like Mondays” with the Boomtown Rats. Well, he wasn’t a teacher was he! I’ve done this job for many, many years and I can honestly say that I have loved each and every day. However, today, Monday 11th September 2017, the flame inside grew larger.
Many people have asked me in the last 6 months, “Why did you choose this job?” It would have been too easy to have a fixed mindset; to stay in Shanghai forever, to stay in my comfort zone. However, every day I encourage staff to instil a growth mindset in our children drawing on Carol Dweck‘s thinking and findings; to believe that anything is possible; to believe that risk taking is a good thing. My movement into the boarding prep school sector has been filled with new learning opportunities for me – I took a risk and on Monday night I found out that the risk was 100% worth taking.
On a Monday night, with the help of an Australian gap student and my eldest son I ventured into ‘wilderness’ of the Terra Nova School grounds with students from both Junior Prep and Senior Prep schools. This was my first experience of boarding duty and in my excitement a phrase came into my head “I’m a TN student – Get me Out of Here.” Bear Grylls would have been proud as I donned my backpack filled with kindling, steel, flint, rope and….. most importantly, marshmallows!
As I was led through the forest by a keen Year 4 student to the camp area, my own son, now 19 shook his head and complained, “Why did you not let me come to a school like this?” He was right. It was a Monday night, the first day of a school week and here we were wandering into a forest looking for a place to start a camp fire. As 2 student groups collaborated, conversed, laughed and joked I realised that I too was learning something new. This was something special, something I had never experienced. In a busy, screen orientated world it is too easy to downplay the value of this active learning. Half way through toasting a marshmallow on a stick one of the Y6 girls looked at me, her first Monday at TN, and stated: “I can’t believe I am doing this. Most children only watch TV on Mondays!”
The evening for the students ended back inside the boarding house, having toast before heading to the dorms with friends. The true value of boarding and life at TN clear in my mind. I can’t wait for the rest of the week (or next Monday’s bushcraft club)!