Friday, 16th June 2017
Laurie Lee's book, "Cider with Rosie", is one of those books which we are all supposed to have read and, indeed, many of us will have done so at school. I have to confess that it is one of my favourite books and I could not recommend it more highly. It speaks of a boy's childhood in a fairly isolated valley in the Cotswolds and tells in very entertaining prose about the events which occurred during the boy's early life, a life where outside influences were few and far between and where entertainments had to be fashioned from what people found around them; the children at one point looked around for things which they might "use". But the work's chief glory is the prose itself which is the closest one can get to being poetry without actually being so. The valley is described in all its many faces in ways that make one's heart beat slower and which transport one right back to a particular place of beauty and to a particular time but one which, despite the distance, seems to have a resonance to almost all childhood. Though the childhood described is often very hard and often frightening, it is one which bristles with life. And having been around CCCS recently my mind has often returned to this great work, as people have rushed around the meadows, as people have played cricket in the playground, as boys have been playing cards with complete concentration and as so many have sat in their classrooms taking their exams. Though the lives of children are in so many ways different from those brought up in the Slad valley at the beginning of the last century, there is a great deal that they have in common.
In Cider with Rosie, there is a time when winter visited the valley and snow transformed it into "that other place". Eventually the boys work out that the ice has formed on Jones's pond and they rush down to skate on it. Lee writes about the ice: "This magic substance, with its deceptive gifts, was something I could never master. It put wings on my heels and gave me the motions of Mercury, then threw me down on my nose. Yet it chose its own darlings, never the ones you supposed, the dromedary louts of the schoolroom, who came skating past with one leg in the air, who twirled and simpered, and darted like swifts; and never felt once – not they". I have always loved this observation and it is one which I keep very much in mind when thinking of our children. In all sorts of ways children surprise. So frequently they perform in ways completely beyond our expectations; they suddenly reveal talents which one might never suspect that they had. Yesterday I went to visit the Form 8s down in Calshot Activity centre, a place situated on an old airfield on a spit sticking out into the Solent near Southampton. The boys tried out all manner of activities including skiing and snow boarding, cycling on a velodrome, rock climbing to a dizzying height, kayaking, sailing and many other things. It was lovely to hear of the way in which some people whom one might not have expected, excelled at certain things while others whom one might not have suspected, found some things tricky. There will always be activities at which people can excel and one important tasks of educators is to identify what it is that individual pupils can succeed at and to encourage those things. Not only will that allow the pupil to succeed in one particular area of endeavour but the success in one area will have a knock on effect elsewhere. I have seen it happen over and over again. I believe that it is so important to encourage people to pursue interests and talents. Furthermore from the point of view of teachers, it is always fascinating when one finds a hidden talent or when someone defies expectation. So often those are the most rewarding moments in a teacher's life and one which makes the career so obviously worth doing.
By the time you read this, all our Year 8s will have been told that they have passed their Common Entrance and that they have obtained the places they were seeking in their senior schools. They have all done very well. What with the tremendous collection of awards which the Form has obtained in the course of the year, two thirds of the boys obtained awards, they should be very proud of themselves and indeed and so should we.
Next weekend is a real treat – we have both Sports Day and Meadow Fair which is one of the highlights of the year and then, in the evening, the CCCSPA Parents' Ball. Please may I remind you that all pupils (including Nursery) need to be at the Sports Day on the Saturday morning and that the Fair afterwards is a wonderful occasion when the opportunities for supporting the PA's fundraising efforts are numerous with all the stalls which classes set up and man. The Ball in the evening will be magnificent and I look forward to chatting and maybe even dancing with you all then.
Have a lovely sunny weekend!