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The first day of school – just an ordinary day?


Posted on 4th September 2016

The first day of school   just an ordinary day?

I loved watching the Olympics. All those ordinary people, having extraordinary moments as a result of team-work and tenacity. All of us ordinary people enjoying the extraordinary moments, with others, at the end of our “ordinary” days. There was chat afterwards about “how to be happy when you’re mediocre”. Mediocre. I found that depressing.

No-one, of course, is ordinary. If you’re in schools every day you know that. Adults turn up at school with unique little human beings. Those children are to their parents the most extraordinary humans in the world. They are right. It’s not a deluded fiction; it’s fact. Every person is uniquely important. Love and grief are the most powerful things we ever know, because to each of us, some other human beings are uniquely special. Every person has infinite possibilities for development, and is born into a “team”, a community, which will help to nurture their talents. First of all they learn to crawl, walk, talk – all astonishing milestones. They learn to make friends, to tell a joke, to puzzle things out. Is that ordinary? Every child does all of this spectacularly originally.

We’ve got Olympic and other elite athletes coming through our village on Monday. The “Tour of Britain.” It sounds relaxed, but really isn’t. Lots of single-minded individuals, supported by huge teams, will be striving against each other, themselves and the usual rain. They are obviously extraordinary. But they are no more extraordinary than any of our new starters on Monday, who will be watching them. Just differently extraordinary!

We finished the school year with ‘Arthur, the True Story’, and ‘The Leavers Service’. They were, of course, ordinarily delightful – parents and families saw their unique children performing, and surpassing their own little goals. What I think makes productions and sport particularly powerful goes beyond this individual delight. There was a moment in ‘Arthur’ when I heard the ripple of “Is that…?” followed by appreciative wonder. We are a community, and during a production, or during a wrestling competition, or during a relay race, we join together to wonder at the individuals amongst us, and of what we’ve achieved as a team. As a nation we did the same during the Olympics. Lots of people came to me after the end of term. They said, “Did you know she / he could do that?” to which the answer is “We thought they could, and they found that they could, and what do we have to lose in trying to find out?” People also said, “Where did that come from?” The answer to that is, of course, “It came from that unique individual, and from the support of their team / family /community.” We’re all part of the success of each child and adult amongst us.

I have no idea which of the humans in Grasmere on Monday will turn out to be the most famous. It could be that several or none of us become more famous than Sir Bradley Wiggins. But I know that the place will be full of extraordinary unique people on Monday. I could show you someone who can create and adapt unbelievable costumes; someone who can bake glorious gingerbread; someone who properly, properly understands electricity; someone who can swim in lakes and not get cold. I’ll stop there! They are all ‘ordinary’ super-humans to me. Those are some of the adults. I’m not going to tell you about the children. They can tell us themselves over the coming days and years. Welcome back, every single one of you extraordinary human beings!

The first day of school   just an ordinary day?