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


Winnie the Pooh is one of my favourite collection of stories and one I would recommend highly to students and adults alike. In essence, the tales revolve around Christopher Robin and Pooh and Piglet and others learning about the world and about how to get along with others. In one chapter, Christopher decides to go to the North Pole:

"Christopher Robin was sitting outside his door, putting on his Big Boots. As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an adventure was going to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to be Ready for Anything.

"We're going to discover the North Pole."

"Oh!" Said Pooh again. "What is the North Pole?" he asked.

"It's just a thing you discover," said Christopher Robin carelessly, not being quite sure himself.

This beginning encapsulates an attitude which we hope all our young men develop – one of being prepared to put aside what they may be doing to pursue something that may be outside of their comfort zone, but which offers far greater rewards than staying put, even if it may be somewhat risker . Of course, being well prepared for such an adventure is very important, especially for a bear like Pooh:

…"And we must all bring Provisions."

"Bring what?"

"Things to eat."

"Oh!" said Pooh happily. "I thought you said Provisions. I'll go and tell them." And he stumped off.

And whilst they never do get to the North Pole, they discover things about themselves and the world around them which they would never have learned if they had simply stayed at home.

Adventures can take many different forms; they can be physical journeys or intellectual discoveries. The word comes from the Latin words, adventurus, which means "about to happen", and advenire, "arrive". It is about discovering the new and exploring the unfamiliar.

The great thing about adventure is that is can be had at any age, and of course, there are different levels of adventurousness. But common to all of them are the following:

  • Finding and experiencing a sense of awe, particularly connected to the natural world
  • Taking us beyond our comfort zone, even just a little
  • Fostering a sense of curiosity about what lies beyond
  • A certain level of discomfort and a disruption to the status quo
  • A journey (physical or intellectual), from which we grow
  • The development of a greater sense of perspective, about our place in the world and what is important

Hopefully, the end result is that each of us becomes a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday. To make this happen, we have to be curious enough to venture beyond and courageous enough to risk failure. This is what I want for all of our boys and I encourage you to consider ways for your son to have an adventure, be it big or small. If he is still young enough, read him some stories from Winnie the Pooh, or get him to read them to you. If he is older, get him to read about some of the great explorers – Australian Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton for example – or the Captain of the Springboks, Siya Kolisi. And encourage him to do something outside of his comfort zone – it could be something as simple as camping out in the back yard, or getting a part-time job. These things encourage us to find out about the world around us.

After all, ignorance is not saying, "I don't know", ignorance is saying, "I don't want to know". The first step in an adventure is wanting to know; curiosity is the bedrock of learning and the driver of making the world a better place.

In line with these comments, I commend the latest edition of SchoolTV, the online wellbeing platform to which we subscribe. This month's topic is Resilience, a skill which forms one of the pillars of our wellbeing programme (along with Respect and Relationships) and which is a vital ingredient in navigating adventures successfully. Here is the link:

Another interesting source of information relating to wellbeing is the Greater Good Science Center, based at UC, Berkeley. They have a terrific website. There, you can find a series of short videos which are built around the idea of raising caring, courageous kids: These cartoon clips are suitable for all ages and deal with compassion, forgiveness, honesty, humility and something they call "stick-to-it-iveness". They are worth a look when you have a moment.