Discovering and developing talents

I was watching the curling highlights from the Winter Olympics – yes there were highlights. It is a game in which players slide a stone on ice towards a target. Curling’s origins date back to 16th-century Scotland, making it one of the world’s oldest team sports.

The competitors accompany the stone using brooms to clear the water in order to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. Apparently, a great deal of strategy and teamwork goes into ensuring the smoothest and most efficient path for the stone’s ideal direction. 

Sometimes schools, and even parents for that matter, can be likened to curling competitors, clearing the way for a child so they don’t hit any speed bumps. It is tempting to want everything to go smoothly, to stay safe but, as a consequence, life becomes a little too comfortable. We hope a boy’s journey at Marist is enjoyable, but also challenging, where achievement is earned, where deeper exploration is required.

We like to tell our boys that their education at Marist should not be a smooth, predictable, ride where all obstacles are removed. We caution them not to allow us to clear the way before them, as they will inevitably end up being much the same as when they started at the College. We want our boys to give of themselves instead of guarding themselves. We want them to be always striving to grow, always learning to make better choices, it is a journey. We believe the more rewarding the experience, the more challenging the experience, the more widely influential the outcome.

The word ‘education’ comes from the Latin ‘to draw out’. Metaphorically speaking, a boy’s education is about finding the well in their village, the place from which to draw the water to flourish. We should really shift the language of well-being to that of well-finding. By this, we mean locating a source, a gathering point, to guarantee life for both himself and one’s village.

Perhaps a boy could risk acting on stage for the first time, or perform a solo on a musical instrument. He may take a chance living in the bush for a week, set a target to top a subject, or gain selection in a team. He could dare to take some time seriously exploring his faith, participate in an immersion or perhaps commit to the Duke of Edinburgh award. And always, a movement from ‘me’ to ‘us’ because becoming the ‘best I can possibly be’ is too narrow a horizon within which to explore life’s possibilities.  

Boys may lose their footing, but someone will guide and help them and they will more likely emerge from the experience the stronger for it. They grow. This is what we mean by well-finding, discovering and developing talents within and rejoicing in it.