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The benefit of doing something practical for others

What an absolute pleasure this Saturday to see the first week of our Community Masterclasses at Whitgift, with 40+ primary school children from local schools enjoying Creative Writing, Maths and Science sessions thanks to Mr Marlow, Dr Jethwa, Ms Alexander and Ms Barker. Not to mention eight excellent Lower Sixth Formers who not only helped and supported the children but taught them with considerable aplomb. The experience will have benefited them hugely as it hopefully benefited our young Saturday students, who will be back over the course of the next six weeks before the next cohort later in the year. It’s a terrific project.

The benefit of doing something practical for others (as clichéd as that is) was on my mind, having read, in one sitting, Breakdown and Repair, a gripping, if harrowing story of coping with mental illness. Full disclosure, as they say: I was at school with the author, and knew him pretty well then (we were the two A Level Germanists and the only two ‘seventh term’ linguists), even if I’ve not seen him for some years, and he was at school a typical and much-admired high achiever. That’s not of course by any means to say that all high achievers have problems, but they can, and part of Mark’s answer is the healing that can happen when you need to (and do) help someone else. I’ve simplified hugely, and since his excellent book raises money for charities, I will simply advise anyone who wants to know more to read (i.e. buy) it!

All of which is by the by, since we now approach a deserved half term after a busy seven weeks. Or is it? If what we do has meaning, is for a good cause and genuinely helps, if in short we can see the purpose, work hopefully is enjoyable. I know U6 students in particular are working very hard, and no apologies for that, but the purpose is to be able to do well and do meaningful – as well as successful – things. Another full week ahead: I hope it goes well.

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