The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

The lost arts – continued

In the last Thistle, I wrote about the importance of having good conversations, and of listening well. And whilst these are not yet lost arts, we should do what we can to preserve them and boost our boys’ capacity to engage in these artforms. When we talk with people – face-to-face, without interruption or distraction, we demonstrate to them that they matter to us. This is critical to building connection and making people feel that they matter and that they belong.

Another art we would do well to preserve is the art of being patient. If you have not seen it already, at some stage you will most likely notice that your son is in a great hurry. This will often correspond with him knowing an awful lot. The great challenge for us is to gently get him to realise that neither of these is true. The capacity to delay gratification and demonstrate a willingness to work hard towards a distant goal have been shown to be big predictors of future achievement. Patience comes with perspective, and this is hard to develop in young people because it is essentially an activity involving comparison. A week is a long time for a young person because it is a bigger percentage of their lives than someone older. We can assist them by trying to explain to them the ‘big picture’, encouraging them to see beyond the horizon or the next hurdle, so that they can begin to appreciate that life goes on and, quite often, good things come with the passage of time. Helping them to see beyond themselves, through community service or time spent in nature, is also useful in developing patience as well as creating useful citizens.

A connected artform is the capacity to be bored. The ability to sit and wait – for a bus, for a meal, for someone else to turn up – actually creates an opportunity for reflection, for contemplation and for imagination. These are the building blocks of curiosity. Day-dreaming and doodling can help to fill in the time without there ever being a sense that such time is wasted. It seems that down time – the time in between activities – has become time that must be used for something. But we cannot be ‘on’ all the time. Too often, this time in between activities is spent on devices of one kind or another. This fills in the time without being productive and it robs us of an appreciation of how valuable time is. There is an opportunity for conversation, or for simply sitting still and being quiet, which has apparently become a forgotten and vastly under-rated luxury these days.

In all of this, the best way to foster these skills in our boys is to demonstrate those skills ourselves when we engage with them and with others around them. Whilst they might not say it, boys are keen observers of the important adults in their lives and when we role-model the behaviour we hope to see in them, this is the best form of instruction, because it is not something they feel forced to adopt, but rather they adopt it through observation and osmosis. 

Parents’ Workshops

We are keen to run some workshops and presentations for parents covering topics which are important for you in helping to ensure your son is at his best as often as possible, and to ensure you have as positive a relationship as possible with him. To assist us in setting up such a programme, we would be grateful if you could complete this very short (two question) survey 

The Fathering Project (TFP)

Just a reminder that we are hosting a presentation from The Fathering Project at Scotch on Thursday 13th June in the Memorial Hall. TFP is a not-for-profit organisation which is dedicated to inspiring and equipping fathers and father-figures to engage more fully with, and to be more present for, their kids. We will be meeting for informal refreshments at 7pm and the presentation will run from 7.30 til 9.00pm. If you are keen to join us and learn more, then please email Pru Adams at . This is a free event.