There is an old Chinese proverb that says, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. At the start of a new academic year I am often reminded of this as new pupils arrive, children begin in new forms and the pace of life at school once again picks up speed. As we get back into the swing of things it is all too easy to be daunted by the scale of some of the challenges ahead and the sheer amount to be done in the coming year. And yet, by remaining focussed on each small step rather than constantly worrying about the ‘big picture’, we can usually keep on track and achieve what we need to.
This week we heard some fabulous news from former pupils of their amazing achievements with their GCSE and ‘A’ level results. This is the culmination of twelve to fourteen years hard work and application by them and is richly deserved. I very much doubt that they were motivated at the start by the thought of what grades they might get in their GCSEs though? Clearly this would be too distant a target and such a mammoth task that it would be daunting in the least and probably utterly demotivating. And so I often think that the best motivations for young people working hard should be closer to home and more immediately apparent and achievable to them; a milestone reached, a page completed or an exercise finished perhaps? Indeed, I would hope to instil a joy and love of learning where the satisfaction comes as much from the task as from the reaching of any arbitrary goal.
Any pupil who has joined me in the hills will know that I never step on the top of a mountain and this is precisely for this reason...I would hate to spend the walk desperate to reach the top and to have missed the pleasure of each step along the way because I was too focussed on a single objective. My motivation for climbing is not to reach the top, it is to enjoy the journey and derive pleasure and enjoyment from each and every step along the way.
John F Gilmour