Friday, 1st March 2019
As you many know, we have a monthly column in the Oxford Times where I or another member of staff write something about education. My latest piece was about the way in which being part of Christ Church gives us huge privilege and that a consequence of this is that we have a responsibility to act charitably. I pointed out that in its five hundred year history, Christ Church had been an institution which has served its country and indeed the wider world very well and I instanced its 13 prime ministers and the fact that Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, was a student at Christ Church and is now a Fellow at the College. I used Christ Church time, ie different from the rest of the country, to point out that Christ Church was different and then went on to say that Great Tom ringing the time is heard throughout Oxford. This is symbolic, I said, of the way that as an institution we should make our presence felt through our charitable deeds.
Charity is something which is crucial to our role as a school and I am delighted by the charity we have chosen this year, “Soundabout”. I advertised the launch of their Inclusive Choir recently but unfortunately it was postponed due to the snow which occurred last month – following this week’s weather a climactic occurrence which is impossible to imagine. The launch is now this Sunday. The Choir will meet at Wolfson College, Linton Road, from 3.30 pm – 5.00 pm. They would be delighted of course if you were able to come along.
Returning to the subject of time, one of the ways I would actually like to turn the clock back is in terms of smart phones. Of course I’d now be lost without mine, as my children are always pointing out (entirely ironically, of course given their use of these devices.) However, there is no question that they have their dangers and I am delighted that Mr Richards has decided to impose a mobile phone ban on his trip to Provence. He maintains strongly that pupils on trips where mobile phones are available spend so much of their time with their heads down, adopting the posture with which the early 21st Century will be associated, that of the head bent in submission to the mobile device, the phone cupped in the prayerful hand. Instead he wishes the boys to look up and look around, using their eyes to see the wonderful Roman structures dotted around Southern France. He wishes them to face one another and to talk about what they have seen, to practise their French and to interact with those people with whom they are physically present. I agree entirely with these sentiments. We mustn’t allow the world to shrink to the size of a minute screen. I do encourage you as parents not to be worried about restricting the use of your children’s devices. As I hinted earlier, I think they are in so many ways wonderful things, allowing one to stay in touch with people elsewhere, to travel to other places in a way in which one would not have been able to in the past because one would have had to remain in one’s physical place of work but they have very substantial dangers. If we are not careful children are unable to escape from their peer group at any time – privacy is being entirely eroded and one merely needs to look at the increase of anxiety in the young, and most alarming the increase in suicidal tendencies, to understand how serious this issue is. I think we are right to insist that the School is a mobile phone-free zone, that boys should be running around and climbing things, that boys should visit our Woodland School and play sport. These things are vital to mental well-being and we will continue to promote them.
I mentioned Great Tom earlier. I am so pleased that so many parents have signed up to the tour of Tom Quad and Tom Tower – it will be a fascinating tour and so lovely to see where the School started life. There are a couple of places left so please contact the School Office as soon as possible if you would like to come.
At supper last night with the choristers my neighbour greeted me with the phrase: “Good news!” “Ooh,” I responded intelligently, “What’s that?” “We’ve got a gorgeous new dog – a cockapoo!” I was so struck by his excitement about the new dog and I am so delighted that we have dogs in the School. I’m sure we learn so much from animals – after all humans have always lived together with animals - and I am certain that the more we interact with them the more healthy our relationship to the rest of the world will be.