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Creativity and Courage

We have worked hard to keep things as normal as possible, to offer the full curriculum along with a broad and high-quality programme of co-curricular activities.

What a strange year. We have worked hard to keep things as normal as possible, to offer the full curriculum along with a broad and high-quality programme of co-curricular activities. My colleagues and I would like to recognise the boys’ remarkable perseverance in the face of the challenges they have encountered this year.  We would also like to offer our thanks to our parents for their ongoing support.  Monday evening brought the welcome news that all pupils will begin to return to school from Monday 8 March. I continue to believe that those who have fully committed to remote learning are not behind, but they have been physically absent from school for too long and I look forward to welcoming them back on site in just over a week’s time. Schools without pupils are strange places and it will be fantastic to hear the boys talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company once more. You may find it hard to believe but schools and school leaders do not get advanced notice of government decisions relating to schools, we like you are informed via the national media, headline grabbing announcements are then followed by more detailed guidance which informs our planning. We are incredibly keen for the boys to return to school as quickly and safely as possible within the parameters of this guidance and details of the required testing regime and what school will look like for the boys from 8 March will be with you shortly. 

In this Wednesday’s assembly I shared a story with the boys, a story told by Dave Alred. Rugby fans among you may recognise this name but I suspect it means very little to most of you. Dr Dave Alred MBE is a performance coach who has helped athletes and businesses alike to improve their performance. He tells a story of a hunter and a fisherman. There’s a river, on the bank are a hunter and a fisherman. On the first day there’s plenty of fish; they’re both happy. On the second day, there are far fewer fish and the hunter becomes agitated. The fisherman tells him to be patient, “You must wait and see if any fish will come this way.” Prepared to wait and expert at what he does, the fisherman catches one fish late in the evening. On day three, nothing’s biting and the fisherman knows it will be one of those days.“No fish today,” he says to the hunter, “that’s the way it is.” But the hunter doesn’t accept this, he wades into the water with his spear in hand and walks upstream. Eventually he finds and spears a fish.

Luke Donald is a name that might be more familiar to you. Donald is an English professional golfer who has been world number one, a ranking he held for forty weeks between May 2011 and March 2012. He worked with Alred from 2010 until 2012. What is unusual about this relationship?  Dave Alred made his name as Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking coach and played in an important role in England’s 2003 World Cup victory. The former international player and rugby pundit Stuart Barnes described England’s post World Cup firing of Alred as, “the worst act of English amateurism”. Alred has also worked with Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton and is currently the kicking coach at Queensland Reds. Why did a successful golfer ask a rugby coach to help him? When he started working with Alred, Donald was ranked 23 in the world, a remarkable achievement in itself, but Donald was not satisfied with being an exceptional golfer, he wanted to be the best! So, in a perfect example of hunter behaviour he tried something different, he went out on a limb, risked the laughter of his fellow tour professionals and sought out the services of Alred.

The moral of the story is that you’ve got to make things happen, you’ve got to be front-footed. You don’t have to accept that this is the way it is. According to Albert Einstein the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ The Warwick Way includes the qualities of creativity and courage. Creativity, to use your imagination without limits. Courage to embrace challenge and do what is right even if it isn’t what is expected. The moral of Alred’s tale is that provided you have the courage and creativity to try something new you don’t have to settle for the status quo, but you must be proactive, you cannot just sit back and expect things to change.

The last year has reinforced my conviction that whilst results in public examinations are important, education is about so much more, it is about a range of experiences both inside and outside the classroom that broaden pupils’ horizons and inspire them to develop into well-rounded young men, confident but not arrogant, who go on to live fulfilled lives and play a positive role in the world. As our return to school approaches I urge the boys to make the most of what remains of this unusual year, to make the most of as many of the opportunities that Warwick School has to offer.