Royal Grammar School


Feeling Positive

Feeling Positive

Apparently it was the rain, not the snow, that caused the traffic problems. I’m talking about yesterday. First it rained, then that miserable wet kind of snow fell on top of it. Certainly my feet were so wet by the time I’d completed the short walk to school yesterday morning that I went home to get some wellies! 

By contrast, I’m a little amazed at how many of our students turn up to school not wearing coats, hats or scarves, simply relying on their blazers to keep them warm and the snow out: but that’s kids for you (coupled with innate Geordie toughness, of course). Still, even such rotten snow provided some entertainment at lunchtime. Year 7 boys and girls seemed to enjoy throwing slush at each other until they were soaked and I couldn’t stand it any longer, at which point a few of us chased them indoors!

Today is bright and cold, beautiful but chilly. The fact that I keep going on about the weather is not on its own attributable to the way the English talk about little else. I am always struck by the fact that, however our individual mood might be affected by the seasons (and I, for one, hate these dark January mornings with a passion), our students are invariably happy and positive in school, whether it is light or dark, warm or cold, wet, dry or snowing.

This isn’t entirely accidental. The philosophy of the school is based on the fact that our students’ happiness is of paramount importance: there’s a pragmatic argument, moreover, that a happy child thrives and learns, while an unhappy one doesn’t.

So it is about ensuring that all our students are kept busy, appropriately challenged: that they can battle with concepts, experience a fair measure of success and failure (the latter being necessary to develop resilience and actually learn from mistakes); and they derive a genuine sense of fulfilment from each school day, and from the whole of school life.

In truth, we cannot manufacture happiness, however much we may (successfully) control the conditions under which RGS students learn. The young, boys and girls alike, are naturally optimistic, and bring that positivity with them into school. All that schools have to do is build on it!

It’s not as easy as that sounds! Yet I guess that doing so is the great privilege of being a teacher – and, in my case, sitting at the slightly chaotic centre of it all, allegedly steering the ship. 

It’s surely the best job in the world - when the sun’s shining, at any rate!

Bernard Trafford