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

Starting and Finishing Well

Last week, as part of the conferences that were held in Senior School, I had the opportunity to speak with the new Year 10s about first impressions and lasting impressions and the importance of good manners. The beginning of a new term is an opportunity to start again, and to start well. For those young men in the Senior School, this term is the beginning of a new academic year. Sometimes, we delay starting because we are worried about what lies ahead. We procrastinate (a topic for a later Thistle article, I assure you) or we hesitate, waiting for what we consider to be the right moment. Or we drift into the new day, or week, or season, unable or unwilling to break the habits which have formed. The truth is that there is never a perfect time to start, or a perfect way of starting. Just making a start is the key; it is only with momentum that we can change direction and begin heading in the direction we desire. Every day presents us with the opportunity to start again; to do things a little bit better, to make another effort to reshape what sort of person we are and to improve how people see us. As I said to the new Year 10s, nobody gets it right  all of  the time. I said that it was important for them to ask themselves honestly what kind of person they were and who they wanted to become, not in the sense of copying someone else, but in the sense of which values will define them by the time they leave Scotch. This is something upon which they can embark right now. 

On Friday, we had the final assembly for this year’s Year 12s and the March Out following that. How we finish is also important. Hopefully we can finish things well, and that finishing can reflect how we have conducted ourselves throughout our time. The sadness of such endings is softened by the understanding that our Year 12s leave us to begin again in a world that, whilst it is full of challenges, is also filled with almost limitless potential. I have very much enjoyed my connection to this year group  and I wish them all the best for their futures beyond Scotch. 

  SchoolTV  – Surviving Year 12 (

I thought it timely to remind parents about the school’s subscription to this online resource, which can be found on the Scotch homepage. It covers a vast array of topics in easy-to-manage video clips as well as providing handy resource sheets. The edition that covers ‘Surviving Year 12’ covers the importance of sleep, exercise and breakfast, as well as managing study time, social media and disappointment. Michael  Carr -Gregg, a well-known psychologist,  refers  to three apps in particular which are considered to be beneficial to managing stress and which I thought I would share with you:

  • Smiling Mind, which is a mindfulness app. He mentions a Harvard study that showed that an 8-week mindfulness course produced a growth of brain tissue around the hippocampus (the area associated with memory and learning). There was also a decrease in brain tissue around the amygdala, which is where stress resides in the brain.
  • ReachOut – Breathe, which uses the camera on the phone to measure your heart rate and then takes you through a process to slow your breathing down.
  • ReachOut – Worry Time, where you literally store your worry in the phone and you set a time to return to that worry. Postponing the worry diminishes its power, so this can be very helpful as well. 

These apps and the other messages in this edition are relevant for other year groups and for adults, as well as our Year 12s. We can each do a better job of looking after ourselves and looking out for each other, and we can start this today in a multitude of little ways. In doing so, we can achieve more and be more.