This week’s Year 3 – 6 assembly focused on the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the US Supreme Court Justice, who died last week at the age of 87. A lifelong campaigner for gender equality, she had to fight for every success, overcoming obstacles at every step of her journey.
So far this term, we have also talked about Ada Lovelace, who is widely recognised to be the first person to write a computer programme, way back in the 1800s. Learning about inspirational figures from history is just one way that we have been teaching the children about the characteristics that make someone successful. Of course, in reality, both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ada Lovelace showed more than just Independence and Initiative during their lives. Each and every one of us has to use all of our Learning Powers at various points and we could just as easily have talked about these women when it comes to Tenacity and Bravery, or Curiosity and Originality. As the year goes on, we hope to introduce the children to a whole range of famous faces, highlighting their accomplishments as well as looking at the way in which they demonstrated their own Learning Powers. This not only gives the children concrete examples to back up the theoretical nature of what a growth mindset looks like but also furnishes the children with some cultural capital; knowledge of some significant people from history who have blazed a trail ahead of them and in whose footsteps they tread as they go out into the world.
Incidentally, the term ‘trailblazer’ comes from America in the late 1700s, where wilderness explorers would mark trees with notches or blazes in order to mark the path they have taken. I had assumed it had something to do with fire, but, as we always say, every day is a school day!
We are constantly amazed at how much the children demonstrate their own capacity to be independent and use their own initiative when given the space to do so. Sometimes it can be easier to do things for them because it will be quicker or we feel we will do it better, but giving space for children to have a go, safe in the knowledge that it is ok to make mistakes, is a powerful teaching tool. This message was reinforced this week during Year 3 and Year 5 parent information events, where various members of staff were able to talk with parents about expectations in the Prep School and, in the latter case, preparations for the next steps of their educational journey.
Whatever stage the children are at with us, whether they are just starting out, entering their final year or somewhere in between, we hope that they are inspired by those that have gone before them and that they will, in turn, begin to lead others as part of their own, unique journeys.
Mr Watkins, Deputy Head