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

Leave the Light On

I have written about stained glass before as a metaphor for our boys. Stained glass is really at its best when the light is shining out from within. On a dark night, there is something both mesmerising and comforting about walking past a front door that contains stained glass. Perhaps it is the ordinariness of the door during the day, combined with the transformation that takes place once the light is turned on. So it is with every individual: there are contexts and moments when you can see them come alive; when that light is turned on. Perhaps the most important tasks we have are, firstly, to ensure that the light which exists within each of our boys is kept alive and is strengthened so it can shine at the most challenging of times and, secondly, that each boy knows how to keep his light turned on when we may not be around to help him. 

Of course, finding the switch – and ensuring it is on – is not always easy. Sometimes, we see some students whose light has faded somewhat. It might be because they are lacking in energy – something within is not right. At other times, it might be because the glass is dirty – and we need to ensure that the external conditions are just right for them to be able to show their true colours . For the light to shine as brightly as it should, it has to  be  his  light, not the light we might like him to shine. 

It is best to develop habits that can boost his light during times of relative quiet – particularly just after some event which has interrupted the perception of what constitutes 'normal'. After the disruption of students having to learn from home, now is a great time to reflect on how things went. I know that for some parents, it was an extremely difficult time and we thank you for your determination to make the best of trying circumstances. Your child may have found a new light: there may well be things which your son has discovered about himself which are positive and upon which he and we can build. You both may have noticed that some of the changes caused his light to dim and there may be things which he and we need to beware of for the future, should a comparable level of disruption occur. 

Physical Activity

Some of the feedback on our period of online learning discussed  the importance of physical activity. Now is the perfect time to get your son into his own routine of physical activity, if he doesn't already have one. It is never too late to start, and the earlier we begin this process, the better. The sooner he can take personal responsibility for his own exercise – and find an activity which he loves to do (or is at least willing to do on a regular basis) – the better it is for him and for all of us. Even though school and community sport are beginning to start up again and these fulfill a very significant role in terms of public health and helping young people to better understand themselves and how groups work effectively, I think it is very important for an individual to have the capacity and drive to undertake their own activity. Ideally, this would be outdoors, and can be something as simple as going for a walk – with the dog and without a phone. Time spent in the natural environment is a great refresher. 

Yoga and Meditation

Now is the perfect time to try to incorporate more good habits into our routine, and  this is why  I continue to  emphasise the benefits of mindfulness. Our boys in Pre-Primary through to Year 3 continue to take part in yoga classes each Thursday. Relevant parents should have received information about this in last Friday's push notice. It would be great if you could speak to your son about it and get him to teach you some of the stuff they are doing. In Middle and Senior School, we are looking at scheduling mindful meditation sessions at some point in the second half of the year. We also run Brain Reset for the Year 11s and 12s after school on a Wednesday. There are also mindfulness tips in the daily notices on the homepage each Monday for boys to access.

There are also some very good apps which you and your son might like to explore. Three which come highly recommended are: Calm, Smiling Mind and Headspace. These are great for people of all ages. 

Final Thoughts

I read a quote in Time magazine the other day from Milton Friedman, which he wrote in 1982: "Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around."

Friedman was of course referring to economies, but his words apply just as well to each of us. Sometimes we need to be prompted to re-examine how we approach life. If we take a few moments during the quiet times to put in place a few good ideas – or at least have these lying around – when a challenge presents itself, we are more likely to pick up on these good ideas. In doing so, we can keep the light on in those darker times.