Friday, 25th January 2019
I was delighted to attend the Ceilidh on Wednesday evening, particularly given the wonderful band which Mrs Green had assembled. I was very struck by the way in which the Scottish dancing drew everyone, whatever their age, together. I found myself partnering some Form 4 boys and as the dances swirled on, partners changed and everyone ended up dancing with one another. It would be an exaggeration to say that the dances were perfectly ordered; when the willow was stripped, boys shot off in all directions, resembling whirling dervishes. Meanwhile some adults danced with such vigour that their partners were thrown off course like flying tops but all in all, order was maintained and everyone played their part in ensuring that the whole came together and, that by the end of the dance, everyone was back where they should have been. It struck me that it was a wonderful microcosm of what a proper society (or indeed school) should be. A school works together through the contributions of diverse individuals who have a common purpose; like the dance it should be a place of colour and of energy. The music kept us on our toes, urging us forward in a way which ensured that everyone felt vitalised by the process. It was a really lovely evening. I would like to thank Ellis Lloyd Payne and the PTA for arranging it. How wonderful it was to have an evening involving parents, teachers and pupils. I am wondering how, next time, we could involve our School dogs, Gordon and Thistle, as well. Come to think of it, one of the dances was called the “Anarchy Dance!” As you can tell, I’ve never much taken to heart the maxim “Never work with children or animals.” I guess I wouldn’t have had quite the same career had I done so.
Talking about dancing, I am teaching my Form 6 RS pupils at the moment about Hinduism. We have just started talking about the dazzling array of Gods and Goddesses and have just heard about Shiva, who is Lord of the Dance. Hindus believe that his dancing keeps the world turning. I think this is a wonderful belief and I always love teaching pupils about world religions. Generally in a year, we have two terms based on Christianity and one on another religion. Viewing the world in a slightly different way from that which we generally view it in the West is such a stimulating and refreshing experience for me and for the boys and I so often reflect upon the extraordinary complexity of the world in which we are so fortunate to live.
Today the Church celebrates the Conversion of St Paul. On the road to Damascus, Saul, the Jewish zealot who was travelling to the City to root out Christian insurrection, was struck down by a blinding light. Christ spoke to him and asked him why Paul (at that stage called Saul) was persecuting him. It led to Paul’s instant and miraculous conversion. Today the Chaplain of Worcester College, the Revd Dr Tess Kuin Lawton preached to us about this in the Cathedral. Pre-Prep and Nursery attended today as they do twice a term. Every week a number of parents come to the Cathedral services and often stay for coffee afterwards. It is always such a pleasure to see you there and I know so many find it a moment of peace at the beginning of the day. I always love the passage from Acts which tells of Paul’s wonderful conversion as much as anything because it reminds me of something that I think is essential to teaching - the belief that people can change and that sometimes this change can happen very quickly. For some, change happens inch by inch, day by day, but for others change can be very rapid. Often I have seen a pupil improve in terms of their work or concentration almost overnight. Suddenly their attitude becomes positive and we as teachers must always be on the lookout for these almost miraculous events and adjust immediately to react to the situation. Children are remarkable beings and we are so privileged to work with them. We must always believe that a pupil can change for the better and I am determined that at Christ Church we will always be open to that possibility.