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Measured Manners and the Power of Words

What with petrol difficulties and suddenly wintry weather, it was good (despite the rain) to be able to watch hockey and rugby on Saturday. Chatting to some parents on the side of both, it was obvious how much they are enjoying being back, watching their sons and being part of the community. At the start of the week I’d been pleased myself to be back at an actual HMC Conference, at which one of the formal discussions had been, inevitably, on remote learning and its future. A question to one particularly evangelical proponent of on-line learning was simply ‘why do you think WE are here? Because humans want to learn together!’ … and the same is true of course of activities.

I often say that the main reason we do co-curricular activities is because of the irreplaceable learning about human interaction (I don’t use those words of course!): working together on something, a team, a play, a club, teaches you life lessons which no classroom instruction can replace.

Another, related issue cropped up in my chat with one parent. He noted how quietly thoughtful and impressive our coaches are: they don’t just shout from the sidelines.  I remembered my own son’s local youth football team in Somerset, where the coach had done exactly the opposite: kept up a bellowing commentary throughout every game. But the measured manner is better. Passing on to the rugby and there was plenty of shouting, but from the crowd, and all well and good … as long as they don’t cheer at opponents’ mistakes, which I’m glad to say they didn’t and I hope don’t.

All of which was summed up better than I am doing by Mr Motley in his assembly to the Second Form this week. Words, he reminded them, are powerful: they stick, and cannot be called back. Careless words, unkind words, thoughtless words, cause harm. Gossip, poor ‘jokes’, unkindly critical words, and of course especially on-line, cause harm. Kind words – a ‘well done’, a greeting – do good. Not a difficult concept, but an important one to repeat and – back to those activities again – to practice.

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