First Word on 'Thought for the Day'

In one of my First Word articles last term, I talked about how the school was seeking to improve further its communication with parents. One issue of communication that has been raised is that some aspects of the school are now so embedded within the school culture that knowledge of them is perhaps taken for granted, yet some parents new to the school may be unaware of them. An example of this is the use of ‘Thought for the Day’ during tutor-time.

Whilst the school runs a regular programme of assemblies for individual year groups, houses and whole-school assemblies, students will not be in a formal assembly every day. Instead, for those days where there is no assembly, we prepare a list of ‘Thoughts’ for tutors to explore with students during tutor-time to encourage them to reflect on issues ranging from attitudes to work and teamwork to learning and decision-making. The ‘Thoughts’ for each week are also displayed on the form noticeboard so that students can think about them before tutor-time or reflect on them later in the week.

Some of the ‘Thoughts’ are quotations from famous people or texts such as the Bible or Koran, others are proverbs or even lines from songs or film scripts. The point of the ‘Thoughts’ is not that the school is promoting a particular perspective on life. Indeed, we would take issue with many of the positions presented, such as ‘If at first you don’t succeed, give up’ (for those parents not familiar with this highly-esteemed philosopher, the source is Homer Simpson). Instead, we hope that students will reflect on the concept posed by each ‘Thought’, consider their own philosophical perspective on the issue and debate it within their form group. As suggested by Form WPRN: ‘What we see depends mainly on what we look for’ (Sir John Lubbock).

In previous years we have used ideas provided by staff, but last year we decided to open up the range of topics for discussion by asking each form group to provide three ‘Thoughts’ for the 2010-2011 programme. The students have duly risen to the challenge by producing sufficient ideas to provide not only this year’s programme, but enough to reach into next academic year as well. The programme for 2010-2011 has been published on the school website so that any parents who wish to see the range of topics that will be explored over the year can do so. Having read this, perhaps you have a particular philosophical thought that you think would be of benefit for students to explore. If so, please email lss@lawrencesheriffschool.com and we will consider including it in next year’s programme.

In the words of one proverb, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ So, as part of the review of communication with parents, I have used this First Word to try and give you a greater insight into one aspect of the school’s work. However, as our ‘Thought for the Day’ programme shows, there is always another philosophical position - as students in Form CAML proposed, ‘Do or do not. There is no try’ (Yoda).

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