11 September 2017

From the Head of Junior School

Merit

We hear the term 'merit' or 'meritorious' used in different contexts. It can conjure up images of gallant or honorable conduct that deserves recognition. It can be for a lifetime of achievements the are deserving of reward or praise. In Buddhism, they look at merit-making as bringing good and agreeable results that determine the quality of the next life and contribute to a person's growth towards enlightenment.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word "merit" as a noun means "the quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially so as to deserve praise or reward." As a verb, "to merit" means "to deserve or be worthy of something, especially reward, punishment, or attention,"

How do we help a boy in his journey towards wanting to conduct himself as a student, individual and person in a manner that deserves recognition of merit? Should it be a point system that gains recognition based on a cumulative score? Perhaps it should be confined to recognition of the good things one does whether that be short term or long term.

When we work towards teaching boys that hard work pays off we acknowledge their efforts as they achieve something new. We celebrate their failures, resilience and attempts as they finally master the new learning or task. We accept that for most, that journey is not quick or simple, in fact, we acknowledge that the harder the journey usually the better the lesson or skill is learned.

Should that be any different with merit? We choose to recognise meritorious conduct and effort for many different reasons. For some boys, it is for demonstrating a particular attribute over a long period of time. Their consistent and admirable approach is formally celebrated with a merit award and subtlety acknowledged in their daily interactions with teachers and peers. For these boys, we are saying well-done for what is easier for them to do on a consistent basis.

For others, demonstrating or learning the benefit of consistent or meritorious conduct or achievement is a longer journey. We try to teach them that their actions and efforts are worthy of note and celebration, sometimes even when it has not been demonstrated very often. This recognition can demonstrate to that boy that when they do well in their effort, conduct or their learning we will say well done and celebrate that achievement.

We aim to be fair and provide each boy with an opportunity to have something they have achieved or demonstrated celebrated and recognised by the school community at least once per year. We do not have an order to this system or a scoring system to determine when a boy will receive they reward. We base it solely on when the teacher has seen something that a boy has done that is of merit.

Helping our boys to see that good efforts as good people bring positive results is part of our effort to teach them to be boys of character with a strong self-understanding who will become valued members of the global community.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School