Carpe Diem

From the Headmaster's Desk, March 7, 2019

Last week I hosted Headmaster’s Question time with the Sixth Form.  Not quite as exciting as PM question time which we hosted a couple of weeks ago, but, like the PM, I was asked some tough questions.

One question I was asked was easy for me to answer: why did I choose to become a teacher?

I knew from a young age that I enjoyed working with young people.  I went to many summer camps as a child, but as a teenager I started to volunteer at these camps.  I liked the work, as I found helping to ensure young people had a good experience at the camp was more rewarding than attending as a camper.

As I was stronger in maths and sciences at school, I thought it would make sense to be a paediatrician, which is a doctor that cares for children and young people.  A bit of work experience in a paediatric oncology ward changed this quite quickly for me.  I met many brave young people in the paediatric oncology ward, but it was hard to see children so unwell.  I admire people that do this work, but I found it challenging.

A film came out in 1989 that made an impression on me.  The film is called Dead Poets Society.  The star in it is Robin Williams, who plays an inspirational teacher who challenges his class to seize the day and follow their dreams.

I loved this film, and watching it is part of what made want to be a teacher.  I’m going to show you a brief clip now.  It’s a bit cheesy, but it gives an important message:

This scene opens with one of the pupils reading from the poem ‘To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time’ by Robert Herrick:

‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old Time is still a-flying

And this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.’

It ends with Robin Williams pretending to be the voice of the previous students, saying, ‘Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day, boys; make your lives extraordinary’.

This film made me realise that teachers can have such a big impact on their pupils.  They can inspire them in school, and beyond, to do extraordinary things.

We are in the midst of a long term here – Easter is late this year which means we still have five more weeks to go.  However, due to the late Easter, we do have a short first half of the summer term.  We return to School in the summer term on Thursday 25 April, and then it is just two weeks until study leave begins.

So for Years 11 and 13, these are the final weeks of teaching and a crucially important time.  Seize the day – make the most of your time in these few weeks.

The lesson is the same for all of us.  It is easy in the winter and on rainy days to sit inside and be grumpy and complain about things, be it things that could be better at Blue Coat, or life in general.

But the sun is coming out, the daffodils are up, spring is around the corner, and all of you sitting here have a wonderful wealth of opportunities in front of you.  I spoke to a couple of Year 13s last week who said that they love Blue Coat, and they appreciate that this is their last proper term – study leave begins in early May.  As they count down the final days, they are trying to make the most of every opportunity.

I hope that we can all adopt this positive mindset.  Appreciate the great privilege it is to attend this lovely school, and don’t wait until it is too late to make the most of what you have here.

In the words of Robin Williams: ‘Carpe Diem, seize the day and make your lives extraordinary.’  Have a good week.

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