Make it happen

Earlier this week I happened to have a conversation with a Form V parent about how the time his son had left at Boys High was diminishing rapidly. There was a strange and sad regret in his voice as he said how much the school meant to his son and how both he and his son could not imagine life without Boys High. The school had become a special place for his boy and leaving would be the hardest act he could do in his short eighteen years. His boy had given everything of himself and, in return, had taken so much himself.

As I walked away, this conversation stayed with me and I asked myself how a boy and indeed his family could feel this way and how I could motivate more boys to follow his example.

A second conversation with a young staff member went along the lines of how he was battling to deal with some boys who simply refused to give of themselves in what they did. They expected all to be given to them – the answers to assessments, the precise things they needed to learn and what they believed was their rightful place in a sports team or as a leader. They expected to be successful without giving anything of themselves in return and he was battling with this.

These two scenarios played in my head all afternoon. Obviously I want to have more of the former than the latter and more boys who followed the example set by the first boy than that set by the group in the second. How to do this – how to tell teenage boys who perhaps cannot see the future to plan ahead that you reap what you sow, you get out what you put in?

Maybe it is as simple as to keep talking about these things. The teenage brain and the male teenage brain in particular battles to see consequence and battles to see long-term benefit which is why we as teachers and parents have to keep reminding you about the future. This is something we are happy to do because we care deeply about you. And so, once again, I repeat the message that has been shared many times before from this and other platforms:

  1. Be busy. A busy boy is a happy boy. A busy boy is an organised boy and a busy boy has to plan, learning valuable skills along the way. The most successful people I have known have all been busy. They have had multiple interests and activities. The world of work these days doesn’t want specialists who cannot adapt. It wants generalists who can move easily between tasks, skills and people. Our world is going to find technological tools to do specialist work. We will design robots and machines that will do a very specific task better, cheaper and more often than a human being can. I look at mining, manufacturing of cars, roads and so on but very soon also things like drawing up a will or a contract (lawyers). But a robot has to be reprogrammed to do a different thing. A specialist person would have to as well. A generalist is happy to move across fields of interest and need. How do we teach you this here? By firstly insisting and then encouraging you to get involved – do your schoolwork, play multiple sports, act in a play, write a poem, volunteer for outreach, play a musical instrument. Wake up and prepare for the world that awaits you! Give everything of yourself to what you do and the rewards will be remarkable.
  2. Stop relying on others to help you. Be curious, find out things for yourself. The world will not help you all the time and you will leave the sheltered world of school and home very soon. Practise for that day by not just sitting back and waiting for knowledge to find you – look for it yourself. Stop relying on others to lead you and stop waiting for them to do so. Take charge of a situation yourself. I watched a cricket team the other day lose the plot. All they had to do was go through the motions to win. For a moment in the game they became lost. They forgot what they had been taught, they panicked, they forgot to lead themselves and make decisions for themselves. Their energy levels sagged as did their heads. Fortunately, and to their great credit, they got it back again, regained focus and the energy rose. A moment of success caused them to refocus and success was ultimately achieved – but only after a valuable lesson had been learned about not waiting around for things to happen but making them happen. “Teacher – Tell me what I need to learn.”
    “Mom – Get me out of trouble.” Too many of you are looking to teachers, parents, coaches and others to get you out of trouble – no matter what that trouble may be. Get yourself out of trouble – own the moment and deal with it.

And so – be involved, be busy – don’t be that guy who goes home at 14:00. Don’t be that guy who waits to go home while staring at a screen for three hours every afternoon. Don’t be that guy that looks back in ten years’ time and says I wish I had done more. And then don’t be that guy who waits for others to determine his destiny, who sits back while life happens. Make it happen yourself!