This morning’s assembly was a real marathon. Due to Senior Sports Day last week, we had a two week backlog of awards, medals, certificates, rosettes, cups and prizes to be handed out. I lost count of how many small hands I shook, but it could easily have been a hundred. And it goes without saying…it gave me enormous pride and pleasure to do so and it was clear from the smiles that there was an equal amount of pleasure in the receiving.
Quite fitting then that the chosen theme of our assembly today was humility, one of our school values. Of course I want our pupils to be proud of their achievements, I want them to strive to do better and go further faster, but I also want them to be accepting of the fact that they can’t always win. I want them to be humble, both in victory and defeat, to be proud of their achievements but to learn to tread the thin line between confidence and arrogance carefully.
So I spoke to the children about how we would like to be remembered when we are old. I asked them whether they would want to be remembered for being the cleverest, richest and fastest or for being the kindest, most cheerful and friendliest person. Perhaps age gives these things more perspective, however, it is clear to me which of those sentiments I would want to take centre stage in my epitaph.
In one of my favourite children’s books, E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’, the main character, Charlotte, sums this up perfectly:
“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
I have no doubt that we have an impressively capable group of young people in our school. I have no doubt that many of them will achieve great things in their lives. Nothing will give me more pleasure than watching them do this with humility.
And by the way, if you haven’t read Charlotte’s Web with your children, can I humbly recommend that you do; it really is some book.
John F Gilmour