From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

It has been an excellent week, which started with the final Home Games of the Winter season last weekend. It was one of those perfect winter days, sunny, with a bit of a nip in the air, there was the unmistakeable smell of bacon cooking synonymous with Saturday sport, there were thousands of parents, friends and young people, wandering the campus and enjoying the games and, for the first time since 2019, we hosted post-match functions in the Dining Hall following the 1st XI and 1st XV fixtures. Then we enjoyed the Year 12 Drama and Music Showcase evenings on Tuesday, followed in short order by the Year 10 Course Selection Evening which attracted over 600 young men and parents, and then we rounded off the week with almost 200 guests at the Year 8 Father and Son Breakfast. It was a sobering reminder of the many things we once took for granted that have been mothballed for the last two years. It was also the case that no player in the 1st XI or 1st XV had been to a post-match function in the Dining Hall, and I heard an even more poignant observation by one of the Year 8 fathers who remarked that he hadn’t been on site for a function since his son started Year 7. Not that I needed a reminder, but this week reflects what I believe is a strong desire to be part of something bigger than oneself, and the importance of nurturing a sense of belonging and connection in your sons. If nothing else, this week reminded me of the words of those famous and oft quoted lines of John Donne; No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

Year 8 Father and Son Breakfast

Your sons also heard a fine Quad Address by Riley Martin 12We. It was so impressive that a precis of his remarks follows. It would make an excellent conversation starter with your sons (and daughters) over dinner this evening.

After losing to Cranbrook on the weekend for our last Home Game, I began to think of things I enjoy to lift my spirits; the feeling of representing the 1st XV, running out onto No. 1 Oval in front of a roaring Trinity crowd, or I picture myself waking up at 8am on the 15th of December, reading that text from NESA seeing the ATAR that I’ve worked so hard for, over the past 2 years. Or maybe it’s the lifelong skill of being a strong communicator, to be able to express myself and be confident doing so in front of people.

But before I got too optimistic, my mind turned to things that I dislike; waking up at 5:30am and having to pick up Dane and Malik for training, studying long hours after coming home from training at 6.00pm, and speaking in front of large crowds. And, as I was reflecting and comparing what I liked and disliked, it struck me that what I enjoy the most often comes at the expense of consistently doing things I dislike.

In a series of studies that began in the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted the famous ‘marshmallow test’ with a number of four-year-olds in the preschool at Stanford University. In this study, a group of children were offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they delayed gratification. In this famous experiment, the researcher left a marshmallow on a table in the room and told the children that they could have two marshmallows when he returned if they didn’t eat the one on the table. Some children gobbled down the marshmallow immediately, the rest struggled hard to resist eating it.

Historically, there was no instant gratification, you had to work hard to be gratified, and my suggestion to you is that, as a society, we are losing the ability to delay gratification, because we are constantly stimulated, more than any time in human history and that our culture has become so accustomed to instant gratification, that the idea of regulating our own impulses has become laughable.

In the moment, I hate waking up at 5.30am every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but I have come to realise that it makes a significant contribution to my wellbeing. Studying long hours after training, instead of lying down and watching YouTube, sets me up to achieve the best ATAR I am capable of, and coming up here and speaking to you all today, helps me learn the skills of communicating effectively in the future. And it makes sense. The things that give us the strongest sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, are actually the things we’ve had to wait and work hard for!

Could not have said it better myself.

Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

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