Students vs Teachers Volleyball Match

I enjoyed Christopher Hudson’s LinkedIn post this week, which provided a commentary on an episode of Bluey which he said “highlights the quirky, and often hilarious, rules and practices of backyard cricket, but also the dispositions to learning that Rusty gains through participation in sport”. Although my children are far too old to watch Bluey with or without their mother, I watched it this morning and thoroughly enjoyed the messages conveyed about learning. Mr Hudson wrote about how the episode emphasises ‘failing forward’ beyond the sporting context “and reminds us that not everything we do in life is going to be easy. We are going to be challenged and we are going to fail, and that is OK because it is part of learning”.

Sometimes we just have to have the courage to show up to the crease of life and have a go, even if we are scared. And if we get out, then so be it. Flip the lens on how we view failure. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Embrace it. See it as an essential part of becoming a better version of yourself”. In this cricket episode, Bluey’s dad explains to him “As you grow up, you’ll face harder things than a cricket ball and you’ll have two choices: Back away and get out, or step in front and play a pull shot”.

The message of perseverance and grit is a timely reminder, as exam papers are returned to students and they consider where they have done well and where they can improve. Overhearing one student this week comment that “Finally, the hard work pays off!”, I was so pleased that they had persevered and succeeded. I recall a discussion with a Year 11 student many years ago, when they passed me in the yard and whispered in a conspiratorial manner that “It worked! What you told me in Year 8 actually worked!”. Having absolutely no idea what I had said three years previously, I asked him to remind me and he said that I had told him that he needed to put more effort into his learning. I had apparently said that it might not yield results straight away, but that if he continued working hard and asking for help, I guaranteed that he would reap the rewards in the end. It was a salutary reminder that although students may not often look as though they are listening, every comment we make can make a difference in the long term.

Our physical education teachers, Mr Quelch, Mrs Atkinson and Mr Zahra understand the importance of sport for our wellbeing and they work hard to ensure that it features widely at Carmel School. As someone who is more likely to pick up a book than a ball or a bat, I too recognise the importance of moving and getting some exercise. All the research points to the absolute need for humans to undertake regular physical exercise and to the positive effects this has on wellbeing. This is why we encourage and promote our students to get involved in sport and keep up their physical activity even when some of them tell me they would prefer to be studying! I reassure them that they should be doing both and that the physical exercise complements and enhances the mental hard work.

After school winter sports continued despite the squishy grass underfoot on the oval and the Primary School cross country was a fabulous success – a riot of colour and excitement. Kol HaKavod to those who trained hard and practised before the event. We did not regret its postponement and are confident that far more enjoyment will now be associated with running than would have been the case if we had continued with the event in last week’s downpours.

Along with the cross country, probably the most fun sporting event this week was the staff vs students volleyball match on Wednesday morning. It would be churlish to mention who won, but the valiant staff team featuring a sporting mix of teaching and admin staff fought admirably against all four houses with only a paltry sixty-second pause for rest and rehydration in between matches. Mazal tov to the winners and thank you to all those who briefly put their study aside and took the time to enjoy the spectacle.

As exam papers and other assessments and assignments are undertaken and returned over the last couple of weeks of term, it’s important that students celebrate where appropriate and analyse and plan ahead where necessary. There is always something to be learnt from assessment results – whether that be in terms of a specific concept that needs reviewing, the way in which a type of question is answered or a student’s approach to their learning and study.

Maybe you will be able to find the time to chat to your family about sport or academic results this Shabbat; perhaps you will even figure out how to incorporate some more physical activity into your life for your own wellbeing. This reluctant sportsperson has resolved to walk her dog an extra block in the morning, despite it being too dark to actually enjoy the experience.

Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris