Recently, as I was returning from our biennial ACT School Community Dinner in Canberra, I read an article of great interest. In essence, it encouraged us to focus on ‘what went well’ - a real challenge for us in a society that is preoccupied with a 24-hour news cycle of bad news! Professor Steven Pinker from Harvard argued that this has developed from bad news seen as morally more serious. Others argue that the human mind tends towards the negative. If we dwell on this, we have the capacity to create a self-fulfilling negative prophecy and, all too often, we see this in education. There is an excellent ABC podcast on ‘Future Tense’ about this.
NAPLAN results were released nationally this week and immediately the negatives have been focused on. Somehow, the NAPLAN has become the sole arbitrator of a good education. The growth of emotional intelligence and every other factor in good education is ignored and we focus on the negative.
However, with the Intercol weekend just finished, it is very easy to focus on what went well. Everything went well with one Pembroke parent saying that the Intercol was the best she had been to over many years with her two sons.
What made the weekend special was the sense of community. There were many people in green and white; our staff made sure the grounds looked magnificent; our parents supported and ran stalls (we even had a merchandise stall that sold out of Westminster beanies), and our students, guided by their coaches, played their matches with great sportsmanship - magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat. There were some incredible feats, and watch out for the release of the short video to capture the final moments of the thrilling Open Basketball match that we won with a second to go. Other winning Open teams included our Badminton winning by just one set; our Soccer team holding off a fast finishing Pembroke team to win by a goal; our Girls’ Football team winning with a narrow victory. Other teams, which had struggled all season, united to play at a different level. Perhaps our most resounding win was on the netball court where our Senior Girls’ team played a great game to win with a degree of comfort. This same team has competed this week to make the final of the Knock Out Cup (finishing as Runners Up), and is now focusing on the IGSSA Competition final on Thursday night.
It could be easy to focus on the matches we didn’t win and draw away from all that went well. While our 1st XVIII was narrowly beaten, if we choose to focus solely on this loss, we would undermine the success of all the other teams and the outstanding way our players conducted themselves following the loss. There was just so much that did go well and went our way.
Thank you to everyone involved to make the Intercol such a success, from the staff who coached and managed teams to the parents who helped with the BBQ and stalls. Ultimately though, the event’s success is a reflection of the students who played their sports in such a competitive and appropriate manner, never losing sight of values of the School and living these through their actions.
As a community, we need to avoid the phenomena of being drawn into the negative and, without being foolish, focus on what is going well and what went well. Thinking this way lies at the heart of all resilience training and helps us achieve more than we thought possible.