Like most people, I set myself some resolutions for 2015; one of them was to 'blog' more, starting with my weekly assemblies. So I am aiming to post online my Monday assemblies shortly after the students have heard them... Here is this weeks:
New Year Resolutions
First of all, welcome back & Happy New Year! I hope the Christmas break has provided you with the chance to rest and spend time with family. New Year is a funny festival, traditionally a time where we reflect on the year gone and make some resolutions for the year ahead. Pretty much the whole world now celebrates this marker on the 1st January, to the point where it's difficult to believe that it could be anything else. But I read this morning that there is a Scottish island, the remotest part of the British Isles, that still celebrates festivals dating back to ancient Norse times and so will celebrate their 'New Year' tomorrow!
And, of course, there's the famous Chinese New Year, an ancient calendar that is based on the Moon's cycles, rather than the Sun. This year, the Chinese will be celebrating their new year (or Spring Festival) on February 19th and we will move from the year of the horse into the year of the goat.
However, whenever it's celebrated, around the world, we mark the turning of the Earth in its continuing cycle around the Sun. Since we last celebrated New Year, we have travelled 586,920,000 miles (From http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/1865762 ).
In our dim and distant past, we would meet together to celebrate the fact that the days are getting longer again and we will not be thrown into continual darkness - the time around early January marks the point at which it is just beginning to be possible to notice the longer days without modern instruments to time things. Rituals would be performed (including at various times, human sacrifice) to celebrate the fact that Spring may be just round the corner again; in our modern times, our rituals include fireworks and standing in groups singing a song in an old Scottish dialect that hardly anyone knows the words to, let along the meaning…
But at the heart of the festival lies an important theme; that of renewal and hope. New Year stems from a time when hope was hard to come by at this time of year, with no electricity to light lamps or double glazing to keep out the cold winter storms - imagine spending this time of year in a tent or cardboard box, homeless…
So we celebrate the fact that we have done more than survive the year, that we are different to who we were a year ago. Hopefully better, definitely older.
A lot happens in a year - 12 months ago, we were still firmly in the temporaries (now completely gone, with virtually no trace of us ever being there), and the Foundation 1 students were still in Primary School, looking forward to their SATs. . .
In the world, we lost a plane in Malaysia, still missing today, with all 239 people on board still missing, Oscar Pistorius (the famous para-olympian, with the nickname of Blade runner), was arrested and convicted of killing his girlfriend, we lost one of the greatest comedians of all time, Robbie Williams, and Ebola became a disease we all suddenly know about, having ravaged through several West African countries, killing well over 8,000 to date.
What about your year? When I think about mine, I can easily think through a huge number of highlights, and feel that it has been a very good year. I hope you can too.
And then, finally, there's the tradition of setting New Year's Resolutions. A whole industry has grown around this, helping us set them and keep them. Most of the New Year's Resolutions set, if you take the headlines in the papers and magazines, focus around getting fitter, slimmer or in other ways more beautiful. And according to studies, well over 90% of resolutions made last week will be forgotten or broken before the end of this one.
Which is a shame, because the habit of setting yourself goals and targets to improve is a very good one. As I have said before, doing nothing, not changing, not growing, is not an option in this modern world - if you stay put, stay with your current ways of doing things and being, the world around you will leave you behind.
So I have set myself some resolutions; some to do with being healthier, and maybe getting a bit fitter this year, and some to grow my mind.
I was interviewed over the holiday by Microsoft & the interview features in a blog, written by the Vice President of Microsoft, responsible for global education, Anthony Salcito, Vice President – Worldwide Education : http://dailyedventures.com/index.php/2014/12/23/andrew-howard/
One of my resolutions is to blog more, including these assemblies, on the school's blog - check it out (if you don't have anything more interesting to do…)!
When setting any targets, it is important to make them very clear & specific - something you can visualise and see happening. It's also important that they are measurable - just saying to yourself that you will work harder is not a good example, therefore - imagining yourself working harder is not a good, motivating image, and it's not something to be easily measured.
It also has to be something attainable, or achievable - something you can actually achieve. There is no point aiming to achieve something that is completely out of reach - there's no point, for example, in myself aiming to look like George Clooney by the end of the year. . .
It also has to be relevant - something that is going to be useful to you, and achievable in a specific time frame.
So, what are your new year's resolutions? Pathways students - you are now well on the road of your examinable courses, with some very important work being completed this term. Foundation 2 students, it's Options time, where we will be asking you to make firm your choices of courses for next year. These are choices that will impact the rest of your lives and need to be taken seriously. Foundation 1 students, this term, this year, sees you completing a huge chunk of the foundation subject material, setting the ground for the rest of your school careers.
Time can never be stopped and our lives move forwards, whether we want it to or not. We grow older and the world changes around us. We have a choice to make; to fight the change and to try to hold back time, or to embrace the fact that the future is ahead of us and move forwards, determined to make a difference.
What will your New Year's resolutions be? One of our students, Jonathan Follett, has taken up flying & has his first lesson this coming weekend - if he perseveres at this, he will obtain his flying license before he gets to drive a car! Well done Jonathan!!