So, another Friday arrives without it feeling as if there have been seven sleeps since the last one – and, no, I haven’t indulged in a nuit blanche along the way if that’s what you’re thinking!
I’m not sure if it was intended as a bit of tough love as we work through the oft-perceived adversity of January but, at the recent Woodard Heads’ Conference, we listened to some philosophical affirmations framed by quotes from Kurt Hahn. Themes of service, compassion and ‘sensible self-denial’ were promoted.
We were encouraged to instil in all a recognition of the deep value to oneself and society of genuine service. “The experience of helping a fellow man in danger, or even of training in a realistic manner to be ready to give this help, tends to change the balance of power in a youth's inner life with the result that compassion can become the master motive.”
We were offered further examples that we are moulded by our experiences and, in particular, that we develop our inner strength and resilience for life through experiences that are not usually founded on hardship and certainly not pristine, saccharin or those where someone else has removed all the obstacles for us.
Kurt Hahn, again, said “Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognised to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner scepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world...events which reveal the inner worth of the child; the edge of their temper; the fibre of their stuff; the quality of their resistance; the secret truth of their pretences, not only to themselves but others.”
An empowering one for us all: “We are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realise this, we may never be prepared to settle for anything less.”
A much repeated foundation to all this was that such development and transformation takes TIME. We are increasingly victim to the pace of life, ‘fast food’ and a growing sense of entitlement to instant gratification meaning we don’t always give space and time for such core fundamentals as character to be formed. In relation to my personal and professional experiences it all seemed to make a lot of sense to me.
Gosh – serious stuff for a Friday afternoon and certainly absolutely crucial, that’s for sure. However, by way of ending somewhat more light-hearted, I did find myself wondering what Mr Hahn’s take on ‘sensible self-denial’ would have been if faced with the post-Christmas chocolate stash.