The ‘relationships rock’ is one of the first we need to put in place in the Junior School.
One of my favourite stories is that of the economics professor who decided to provide one of his classes with a practical demonstration of a personal philosophy.
The professor arrived in the class with a large glass jar, and proceeded to fill it with fist-sized river rocks until he could no longer fit any more in the jar. At this point he asked the class if the jar was full, to which they all agreed that it was. The professor smiled knowingly and reached under his desk for a bag of smaller stones that he used to fill the gaps between the larger rocks.
When he could no longer fit any more stones in the jar he asked the question again, ‘Is the jar now full?’ The students had quickly realised where this demonstration was going and suggested that he could use even smaller stones to fill more space, which the professor did. Again he asked the question, and one very bright student pointed out that he could fill in even more space with fine sand, which the professor also did.
At this stage they all felt that the jar was now completely full. However the wily professor still had one more trick up his sleeve and he brought out a jug of water that he emptied into the jar until it overflowed. Finally they all agreed that the jar was full.
The professor then asked the students what the purpose of the demonstration was. One of the students offered the following: ‘The jar shows us that no matter how busy we think we are, we can always manage to fit more into our lives!’ The professor shouted, ‘No! That is exactly the opposite of the meaning. The point of this demonstration is that unless you place the important things into your lives first, you won’t be able to fit them later when the less important aspects begin to crowd in.’
I wonder what the big rocks in all of our lives are? Our loved ones would certainly be first choice for the vast majority of us. Our health, our friends, our hobbies and passions may also rank highly. I wonder where the other aspects of life may rank for many of us?
I feel that this same philosophy is equally important when related to schools. We must continually be asking ourselves what are the ‘big rocks’ in our schools. What are the aspects of school life that we must ensure we place first, so that the busyness of schools and the demands and expectations placed on us do not begin to squeeze out these important facets?
For me the most important thing we do is to build relationships with the students. In my first term at Scotch, I have been very pleased to see that this is one of the foundational strengths of the school, and is an aspect that all the Scotch Family works hard to maintain and develop. Building relationships with the boys and between the boys happens in so many ways; some institutionalised through programs and activities, while others are more closely woven into the very fabric of Scotch and form part of the school culture.
Boys need to know that they are valued, liked and cared for by their parents, by their teachers and by their peers if they are to develop into confident, competent and self-assured young men.
It has been a delight to see the many ways that we work to develop relationships at Scotch in the Junior School. This edition of Great Scot is devoted to the House system at Scotch, and this is one of the really important opportunities for the boys and their teachers to continue to build and strengthen relationships. Each house is cross-aged, and each of the four houses encompasses boys from Prep to Year 6, with the Year 6 boys taking on the leadership roles.
Out of the House system also come the peer support teams, designed to build smaller teams within the House system, and to provide all the boys with a smaller and more intimate forum to develop relationships with boys of various ages. To be a boy in Prep or Year 1, and to know that there are ‘big boys’ in Years 5 and 6 who are there for you and know who you are, is a powerful and very confirming feeling.
For the older boys who lead these peer support groups there is also a great deal to be gained, as they get to experience that feeling of being relied on and looked up to by a younger person. These leaders also get to experience what it is like to carry some responsibility for others, and this can stand them in great stead for their later years.
There are many ‘big rocks’ we need to put in place in the Junior School, but I think the relationships ‘rock’ is always going to be one of the first we will need to put in. GS
Mr Jon Abbott Head of Junior School
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