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

On Being

I got the opportunity to speak at the first Senior School assembly of the year and I wanted to share what I said to the young men seated in the Dickinson Centre. I began by posing the question:

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" 

At one level, there are the jobs we may end up performing, and the roles we may fulfill. At another level, there are concepts such as wanting to be rich, or famous or powerful or happy. Each of these may be less alluring than they first appear to be. The desire for happiness is a common refrain, but before we can be happy – however we define that – we  have to  be a host of other things first, such as hard-working or respectful. Happiness is really only a  bi-product  of being something else and pursuing other things.

I suggested our boys may wish to be Shane Battier, a former basketballer in the in the NBA; he retired around 2014. He used to guard the best players on the other team, trying to disrupt their performance. And whilst his own personal stats were never that impressive, what they worked out was that his team played better when he was on the court rather than when he was sitting on the bench. I suggested that our students might want to be the person who makes other people better – to be someone who makes others feel better and helps them perform better.  

I then spoke about the sorts of things I hoped they would be when they grow up. What I want our young men to be is brave. Brave enough to ask for help; brave enough to admit when they are wrong and  apologise ; brave enough to step in when someone else needs a hand.

What I want them to be is courageous. I want them to have the courage to get up and get through the day even when they know it is going to be hard. I want them to have the courage to reach out to others.   

What I want them to be is curious. Curious about the world around them; curious about the people with whom they share this planet; and curious about how they can make things just a little bit better. 

But most of all, I said that what I hoped they will be is kind. I know this is hard sometimes, because it involves thinking about others and being willing to put your life on hold while you do something for someone else. It means giving up moments of your life to make someone else's life a little better. But when you think about it, there is nothing more important.   

Being kind is a rather abstract concept; we all know we should be  kind but  being able to perform concrete acts on a regular basis is more challenging. In the Peer Relations survey that Senior School students completed last year, there were several acts of kindness which popped up on a regular basis: opening doors for others; picking up books when they dropped them; and providing food, or money for food (always important for boys). All nice things to do for someone, and it seems these are done regularly, which is pleasing. 

I encouraged our boys to be a bit more creative with their kindness. I suggested targeting their kind act towards someone who is  in particular need  of  something or  doing something unexpected which they know will help someone. Or they might do something kind without the recipient knowing that it was them who did it. 

emphasised  that the  boys  matter to us a great deal; that who they are and who they are becoming are a key part of what drives us. I reminded them that if they are struggling, they should speak to someone: someone in their family, a friend, a teacher, me, their mentor, or House Head. We are here to guide and help them to be whatever they want to be. 

I think we begin to grow up the moment we start being kind. And that is  actually a  very satisfying feeling. Whatever else we may want to be, we can be kind to others and be kind to ourselves. 

Brain Reset

To help with this, I will be sending the Year 11s and 12s an email regarding the Brain Reset sessions, which I would like to recommence in the next couple of weeks. Please encourage your son to attend – the benefits of these mindfulness sessions are immense.   

The Fathering Project

Fathers and father-figures who are interested in joining our Dad's Group can contact me or head to the Fathering Project's website:  . This group operates independently of the school to provide advice to father-figures and opportunities for boys to spend more time with these role models in their lives.


We have a school subscription to  SchoolTV , an online parent information platform which covers topics affecting young people. There is plenty of easy-to-access information here on a variety of topics. Of  particular relevance  at this time are: