I think it was Alice who, whilst in Wonderland, suggested that ‘if you don’t explore, you don’t discover.’
Our last week of term is, as always, full of exploration and, we hope, discovery. The musicians are already back from Cologne and the cricketers are Caribbean bound. Work experience placements range from car manufacturing to particle collision. We’ve even lined up some cracking Sixth Form enrichment lectures. I’m particularly looking forward to the ‘Introduction to First Order Variable Separable Differential Equations’ closely followed by ‘Time Delays across Saddles as a Test of Modified Gravity.’ How much I will understand is another matter entirely, but our Sixth Formers are much sharper at this kind of thing than I am.
The notion of exploration and discovery was one theme of our last assembly of the academic year. We know we are preparing young people for a world we cannot clearly see. Perhaps global warming, the ‘Internet of Things’, the rise and rise of China and America under Trump are the ‘known knowns’, but there are still ‘known unknowns’ to do with artificial intelligence (another one of our Sixth Form lectures next week) and the changing demographics of the West.
That is why there was every reason to reflect on our first assembly of the year, to do with marginal gains. I see our pupils, in classrooms and sports pitches, concert halls and boarding houses, making those little but regular improvements in key skills and attributes. And it is when they become part of a bigger picture to do with team work and problem solving, communication and information management, that they will take their own important steps towards making the contribution we all know they can.
The great questions of the day await exploration, discovery and solution.
All are within the reach of today’s pupils and students.
In the interim, I wish them all, and their families too, a peaceful and enjoyable summer break.