I have been writing a Weekly Newsletter article for fourteen years now, something I started at my first school as Headmaster.
Something always fresh and new comes up which I want to share with others. I am an avid reader and student, but I learn very much to serve. I joke with the boys that all the reading and learning hasn’t made me much money, but then worldly riches were never the aim.
In Assembly last week I told the boys how I came to be a teacher. I certainly did not come from a family where this was a career that would have been encouraged. So after leaving school I found myself working for British Telecom in Slough and in a sense that’s where my real education began as I happened to sit next to a wise man. Now, you won’t have heard of him, but this man was a latter-day Socrates and he was incredibly well-read. Together each day we studied philosophy and he taught me how to think and contact the inner resources of my true self. So often in life one's destiny can turn on a seemingly chance encounter. This extra-ordinary man told me I should be a teacher and, because I loved and respected him, this was what I did.
Young men often need an elder like this, who is not their father (often too much competition there), if they are to sift their fate from their destiny. Spiritually speaking, we are children of both 'earth and starry skies' as the ancient Orphic Hymns declare. The ultimate destiny, written in letters of fire on our hearts, is never realised if we follow just the ways of the world. These slowly put us to sleep.
At St James we are trying to produce pupils who are awake and have a connection to their deeper destiny so that they can really be who they really are. This is a very real challenge through the years of adolescence and I know that for parents this is an anxious time. The education we offer and the love that is brought to bear, creates a strong container for this adolescent fire. Genuine education involves a remembering of essential things and a reclaiming of lost knowledge; this is why back in time education was always viewed with reverence as a sacred task.
My wise man, all those years ago, awoke something in my spirit and allowed it to burn; other teachers fanned the flames and their belief made my life possible.