11 September 2017

No Man is an Island

In 1624, John Donne wrote:

"No man is an island,
Entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…"

These beautiful words are a simple yet powerful reminder to all of us that we are all connected. He makes the point that no-one exists in isolation and together we form something much larger and very special, even though we may not see this. His metaphor makes it clear that we cannot live alone; we depend on others to complete our lives and to make us whole. We need to be connected to a community, and this community helps to nourish us.

Donne finished his Meditation 17 with the lines:

"And therefore never send to know
For whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee."

He was writing in a time when life was simpler and most people lived in small villages where everybody knew everybody else. When someone in the village died, the local parish church bells would ring out to let everyone know that the community had suffered a loss. His point was that it did not matter who that person was, because everyone was affected. You did not need to ask their name, or what had happened, because you and your family would know them and be affected by their death.

Nearly four hundred years later, we should be glad to be reminded that we are all connected; that what each of us does affects those around us. We should see such connection as a wonderful gift. What happens to one person happens to the rest of us: when we share our joy with someone it is doubled; when we share sorrow, it is halved. As a community, we should be constantly aware of the need to look out for each other and to care for those around us, being willing to go beyond common courtesy to demonstrate compassion and to display kindness. We need to be gentle with ourselves; and we need to be gentle with others, because you can never know what is going on in their lives.

With the start of this term, we have taken the opportunity to speak to all our boys about the importance of maintaining good mental health - our own and others. I have included the attachments that we have sent to all boys and parents. You may have missed these but they offer a really good starting point for you to talk to your son about this crucial subject.

Knowing it is okay to ask for help; knowing it is okay to bring others in when we do not feel we can fix things on our own; and knowing that things can get better with time and the right help are critical things for our boys to understand. As we head towards recognising RUOK? Day later this term, I hope we can all remember - and have the courage to remind others - to keep an eye on those around us, have conversations where we check to see if they are travelling well, and encourage them to seek help if we think they need it.

In the lead-up to the Year 11 and 12 examinations, we will also be running the Tackling Exam Stress course with Helen Heppingstone, which was so well received by those who participated in Semester 1. More information will follow and I will be speaking to our senior students about being a part of these sessions. I strongly urge you to encourage your son to be involved. These are skills which will be practical well beyond school.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing

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