Now that the long daylight hours of summer are starting to draw in, I am beginning to find more time for reading. I’m not sure about you, but I tend to have several books on the go at any time; often a sailing adventure on my bedside table (to me there is no better way to lull myself to sleep than by putting the cares of the day aside by dreaming of far off sailing adventures - I’m currently reading Roger Taylor’s account of sailing in the high latitudes in a minimal, junk rigged production boat), on a coffee table in the living room I will often have a biography or military history (right now it is Ziegler’s biography of Mountbatten so ticks both boxes). I will then also tend to have something fictional on the go and most likely also something a little more thought provoking.
In the final category I am currently reading Mathew Syed’s recent book, ‘Rebel Thinking’. I am a big fan of his writing and enjoy his counterintuitive approach to many perceived truths or realities. He enjoys challenging orthodoxies, questioning common assumptions and this appeals hugely to me. Interestingly, in this latest book he explores why diversity is such an important part of success. He also looks at why we, Homo Sapiens, thrived and became the dominant species on the planet while other species such as Neanderthal didn’t. His premise is that fundamentally this came down to our innate sociability and consequently our ability to share and pass on knowledge from one to another. In this way our ability to think and solve problems was magnified way beyond the thinking capacity of an individual brain. Couple this with the key advances of our discovery of cooking with fire and the use of containers to carry water and you have got a species which rapidly overtook all others. The bottom line - to be human is to be sociable.
And why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s struck me this week just how important it is for us to be able to socialise. Now that we are back at school, and despite the many and various restrictions which are in place, it has been striking to hear so often that the thing people are most glad to get back is the ability to spend time with others, smiling, chatting, laughing, joking and communing. I have found myself seeking as many opportunities to talk to people, pupils, staff and parents, as much as I can, and I’ve observed others doing this too. As fundamentally sociable creatures, we are loving getting back to being the very thing that makes us humans human - building sociable communities.
So, if I haven’t spoken to you yet this term, please come and seek me out and tell me what you’ve been up to. In fact, perhaps you’ll share with me what you’ve been reading...I do like a good recommendation!
John F Gilmour