While attending the GDST Heads’ Conference in Oxford this week, I came across this quotation from ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy: “Most of the old moles I know wish they had listened less to their fears and more to their dreams”. I like this – it echoes similar aphorisms that have guided me in the past, like Cheryl Sandberg’s, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and Eleanor Roosevelt’s challenge, “Do one thing that scares you every day”.
When we talk about courage, or (in Brighton Girls terms) about being “bold”, or about being “fearless” (a word that appears in the GDST values), we don’t mean being without fear – we mean experiencing fear and doing things anyway.
This was in my mind during our staff briefing on Wednesday when Mr Gregory explained that some of our Year 10 students are reluctant to sign up for the much-anticipated, much-delayed (and historically much-loved) trip to our Field Centre in Boughrood, Wales. Their reason: fear that they will get behind with their school work. It is possible there are other, unstated, fears at play here. I know at least two GDST Heads who admitted feeling some form of social anxiety before the conference on Sunday – things that were once routine now seem daunting; fears can sneak up on us when we least expect them.
I encourage all our students to listen more to their dreams and less to their fears. If they do this, they will find a world of opportunities: on the GDST wish-list at the moment is a trust-wide Sixth Form tour of American universities; for Brighton Girls, Ms Pearson is exploring a World Challenge trip to Nepal themed around women’s empowerment; and we’ve planned laughter therapy sessions for students, parents and staff.
Meanwhile, bags are being packed for Boughrood, and the bus is waiting to depart.