Thoughts from Rachel Dent
During our Remembrance Service on Friday morning our wise chaplain Allison Hadwin reminded us of the old Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”. As we remembered and reflected on the world-changing events of 100 years ago, and gave thanks for those who gave their lives in all conflicts since, I know that I was not the only one feeling that we are living in interesting times at present. There’s no doubt that the events of the last few months have caused the majority of us to wonder where our world is going; certainly I cannot remember a time when I have seen more classroom discussion and debate about democracy and world power.
While we can sometimes feel as though there is nothing but growing division in the world, we were reminded by our German Head of Modern Foreign Languages in a moving assembly that last week also marked the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of a nation divided. At the Junior School Miss Hadwin’s Remembrance Assembly had a similarly unifying theme, as girls talked about their different religions and beliefs and identified the common themes of love and understanding.
In observing our students’ responses to the changing world around them and their reflections on the lessons of history, I have been deeply impressed by the maturity that they display, whether it’s a three-year old learning about her friend’s faith and traditions, or older students responding to what can be harrowing topics of war, terror and unrest. Whether it is contributing to classroom debate or interpreting their feelings through art or literature, there has been a maturity and depth of understanding that belies the girls’ years. This was nowhere more apparent than Paget House’s decision to include an original poem about the impact of conflict in Syria as a devised drama piece in their entry for our House Music and Drama competition. Written by an Upper Sixth student and brought to life with a pared-back performance and staging that added further power to the words - the audience was deeply moved.
With this and innumerable other examples I can support my conviction that it will be this generation that leads us to a new world alliance. I have seen nothing but hope and optimism in these young women and I feel that nurturing this and encouraging them to envisage their roles as active leaders in our future world is one of the most important responsibilities that we have as educators. It is not for us to create barriers but instead to open their eyes to endless possibilities.