“I believe that every person is born with talent.” -Maya Angelou
There are certain days when I am reminded that I live an extraordinarily privileged existence. Yesterday I was able to have a meeting with M. Plazanet our Director of Finance while walking between our campuses. The sun was shining. We were treated to spring happening in the Seine Valley – an intense experience (spring that is not the meeting) and then we paused to enjoy the spectacular work of our younger students at the Junior School Art Exhibition before resuming our deliberations. Once I moved away from the day to day questions that make up normal life, I had the chance to consider something more important. As educators I and my colleagues can play a role in setting young people on their way. Parents play at least an equal role in providing not only the initial impetus but constant support. None of us know for certain where all this effort will end up. As parents and teachers we may have particular ideas, ambitions even but, truth be told we don’t know where all of this investment will end up. Our young people will develop their talents, they are like the trees and plants on our river bank in spring, and they will grow, all too quickly and in a way that we may never predict. Care needs to be taken to ensure that we do not expect young people to live the lives that we desire for them, they need to be guided to the realisation of their talents.
Gilles Caron* took some of the iconic photographs of the riots in Paris of May 1968. Without him this event would not be remembered in the way that it is. I wonder if his talent was spotted early, would his artistic eye have been evident while he was a student at the BSP? Yann Martel, the Booker Prize winning author may well have been a fiction prodigy, but were the seeds of his genius discerned while he was at the BSP? In a week where we saw remarkable artistic work rewarded by the Never Such Innocence judging panel, who knows where this talent will grow? I had the chance to ask this sort of question to another visitor. Professor Shawkat Toowara is a distinguished Yale academic. He’s also another alumni and he visited the School today to share his expertise, wit and insight with our older students. By his admission no-one could have known that he would become a world leader in his field or that he would be persuading students to come to lectures that have nothing to do with their nominated studies. But he does. Our aim as a school is to provide an environment in which children can grow. Our physical environment is stunning, our intellectual climate stimulating. We have an abundance of talent. There are plenty of examples of BSP students who have gone on to be leaders in their field, opinion formers and prize winners. We are never quite sure what it is many of our young people will achieve in the future; what I know is that having seen the quality and verve of our artists and our writers this week that the current generation will certainly go on to continue the BSP tradition of excellence and in doing so enhance the community in which they live.
*The Hôtel de Ville de Paris is currently exhibiting Gilles Caron’s work: https://quefaire.paris.fr/49910/exposition-gilles-caron-a-l-hotel-de-ville