This morning in assembly the children and I talked about courage. I shared with them the quote from Sir Willliam Hillary, founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution; ‘With courage, nothing is impossible’.
This expression has always resonated with me, though I explained to the pupils that my notion of courage has significantly changed over time. I used to believe that true courage was only for the few and was the preserve of the sort of people who sailed around the world, climbed Everest or skied to the poles. I have come to understand that courage is actually not the preserve of the few but of the many. However, looking at the sea of faces this morning, I realised that each and every one of them would require courage at some point during today. They might need to be brave enough to try some new food at lunch, to have the guts to ask the teacher a question in front of the class or to befriend someone in the classroom.
And it struck me that courage is not something static that we have a finite amount of. Instead it is elastic and something that we can develop and grow. By easing ourselves into small, courageous acts we can develop our supply of courage and become braver. This is the challenge that I set for the children; to start with things that require a small amount of courage and build up to the big things.
We finished the assembly with a group of pupils volunteering to stand in front of the whole school and learn to waltz...a feat requiring no small amount of bravery!
John F Gilmour