“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children…”Mahatma Ghandi
Every now and again I see something that reminds me I should sing the praises of being a through school. In normal parlance that is a school that has the capacity to educate from Nursery to Upper VI (Year 13). This week I happened to bump into some of our youngest pupils, Nursery and Reception who had enjoyed an exciting morning of theatre in the Senior School’s drama studio. Games had been played and I’m told there was a puppet show too. Much of the work being done by our Sixth Formers who revelled in the opportunity to entertain their younger school mates. Many thanks to the teachers from both sites who made this wonderful learning opportunity happen.
I hope that there is a reciprocal benefit to such exchanges. Our younger pupils gain an idea of what their future learning path might look like and the older ones are reminded of their own school days, a time when everyone was willing to have a go and the anxiety of adolescence hadn’t yet struck. It is opportunities such as this that allow young people to develop a habit of service and gives them the chance to hone their leadership skills.
As I write, Year 9 have nearly gone to sleep following a busy day on the battlefields of the Western front. We make this annual pilgrimage to the sites of memory and mourning in Belgium and Northern France not to glorify conflict but to reflect upon the stories of individuals who went well beyond what might have been expected of them. There are tales of courage but more often it is those who have demonstrated bravery through their devotion to friends and comrades that make the most significant impression. As we stood and looked at the names on the Thiepval Memorial we had the chance to reflect on the courage shown by young people in the face of extraordinary danger.
Sadly our young people are growing up in a world that has failed to learn the lessons of the Twentieth Century’s global conflicts. Perhaps through relatively small acts of service, by doing things for other people, they will view their roles as being that of peaceful leaders focused on providing the best for the many as opposed to slipping into conflict. Tomorrow we will visit sites around the city of Ypres and we will once more see the echoes of the present in the past. In all of this we will take hope from the stories of those who remained true to their comrades, put others before self and sought the common good.