Master of my fate and captain of my destiny

Whilst I was very pleased to return to LGS yesterday, it’s also good to get out of school every so often to freshen my perspective and to learn from others. The 150th Anniversary HMC Conference in London certainly provided such an opportunity, and I was able to benefit from some excellent speakers and workshops, as well as enjoying great conversations with many colleagues.

There was a fair bit on leadership at a time when our children lack really positive role-models in public life. Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick emphasised the importance of shifting the focus of leadership to the young, citing Greta Thunberg as an example of a teenager who was proactively and creatively challenging those who should know better to do something about the environment. Another speaker talked about leaders as ‘talent architects’, caring for, developing and empowering their employees. She quoted Mahatma Ghandi:

“There goes my people. I must follow them for I am their leader.”

A 2018 report from the World Economic Forum stressed the need for technical skills, but was above all cited as highlighting the importance of emotional intelligence and social influence alongside the qualities of active learning, curiosity and care-giving.

We heard about the latest digital trends: Positively, our young seem to be striking a healthier balance in their use of technology, yet worrying behaviour is going underground as they circumvent the rules. ‘Sadfishing’ is used by peers to describe troubled young people who seek emotional support online, thus making themselves very vulnerable to grooming, whilst we were also warned about the growth of sites for anonymous abusive feedback.

Clare Balding encouraged us to build motivation and confidence in our pupils, so that they would more actively embrace difference and challenge the prevailing group-think. And university advisers gave tips for happiness beyond school and home: Sixth Formers should do their research very carefully, follow their passion and be prepared to ask for support, especially for their mental well-being.

So, as I reflected on the imperative to nurture creative, fulfilled and generous future leaders, one speaker’s quotation from Nelson Mandela seemed especially apt:

“I am the master of my fate and the captain of my destiny.”

Best wishes

John Watson
Headmaster and Principal