| Head's Blog

On Monday, being St George’s Day, our assembly theme was ‘Qualities’. It was interesting, but not surprising to note, that the story of St George was largely unfamiliar to the children, as was the concept of being a ‘patron.’ The additional facts that England’s patron saint was neither English nor indeed British, was alive in Roman times so would not have worn a suit of armour, probably never rescued any princesses, and certainly not from fire-breathing dragons, clearly puzzled the children. The question, ‘what is the point of St George?’ was only to be expected.

Among a long list, one of the very best aspects of being a Head, is the conversations I have with the children. Their ideas are wonderful examples of divergent thinking unfettered by the practicalities of life, which often seem to restrict our creativity as we grow older. Asking why a dragon might still be a valid idea today, I was firstly told that dragons should be categorised as ‘elements from myths and legends’ (a Year 4 boy) but that they could be useful as ‘a picture of all the evil things in life, or our worries,’ (a Year 3 girl.) Our subsequent discussions then led us back to our original theme of ‘Qualities’ and more particularly, which ones the children thought a typical dragon-slayer would need to have. ‘Determination’, ‘cleverness’, ‘daring’, and ‘thoughtfulness’ topped the list.

Interestingly, the four qualities of a dragon-slayer as identified by the children, fit very closely with an on-going discussion the staff have been having regarding ‘Learning Powers’, a concept we will be developing with the children during the term. This year, ‘Challenge’ has been the school’s over-arching focus, and words such as ‘resilience’ and ‘application’ have become routine vocabulary for staff and pupils alike. Leading on from this focus, and following discussions with the children, four learning powers have been identified as being essential qualities for pupils to develop and apply: perseverance, responsibility, reflection and, of course, willingness to accept a challenge. The creation of four characters to represent these powers will be tasked to the children very shortly, so that they can fully take ownership of this concept.

Returning to St George, and why he is of any use in our modern-day world, the answer for our children is clear: stories which set a good example, or which assist us to gain confidence in the path we should take, and the principles worth fighting for, are as relevant today as there were in Roman times. Be they mythical or not, such characters help to shape our understanding of what is important to us and the qualities we should endeavour to develop. With thought and determination we can, indeed, all be dragon-slayers at Sherborne House!