Tuesday, July 26, 2011

JDS Insights: June 2011


The last few weeks before the end of the year at school are always interesting. Everyone is in the winding-down mode - even though they sometimes give the pretence of not thinking like this.

I had the joys of being invited for Jury Service earlier in the year...I was asked to defer it...and well - June it was.

Jury service is amongst the most interesting activities any citizen can participate in. It sounds cheesy to think of it as one's civic duty but after completing it, I realised how important it is to the implementation of the law in the UK.

Putting aside my opinions on the functioning of a democracy, the application of the process of law was instructive. I actually felt *privileged* to be with some of my fellow Londoners. And I have to say that the group of us were from as wide-ranging a group of people as could have been selected from walking down any street in suburban London.

That was the most interesting part - we were just ordinary people; I'm glad the variety of the jury I sat on reflected the mosaic of peoples I witness every day in a suburb of London.

Aside from that, this month's book was intriguing to say the least - especially given I was sitting on a jury for part of the month. See the link below:

Truly fascinating practical psychological stuff. Really well-written and thoroughly researched. It also gives practical tips on avoiding the everyday weapons of influence employed to effect changes on our behaviour.

We are closer to being stimulus-response mechanisms than we think.

That was June.*

Jun 1: Putting off starting that dream idea? Never mind just remember every day that passes is a step closer to death.

Jun 2: A relationship founded on lies will have a particular future.

Jun 3: There's nothing an open and honest conversation can't resolve.

Jun 4: Hate all you want. Just be aware that it will give you a certain kind of world.

Jun 5: God created life, the universe and everything. Therefore God created the word cunt.

Jun 6: God hides in plain sight. A bit like the Transformers.

Jun 7: I never really know how someone is going to react to me.

Jun 8: We are more insightful than we realise. Too often we just ignore our insights.

Jun 9: Truth creates a space for more to happen than hard work alone.

Jun 10: You can't avoid what you know about yourself. But what you know about yourself isn't always conscious.

Jun 11: We put up with, and can tolerate a lot more shit in our lives than we realise. Easier than using some bleach and a brush.

Jun 12: Does living virtuously make you incredibly interesting or incredibly boring?

Jun 13: I often wonder what has more effect: the teacher's lesson in the classroom, or the teacher's lesson outside the classroom.

Jun 14: Learning happens anywhere and everywhere not just in school.

Jun 15: Does school teach obedience or creativity?

Jun 16: Breathe deeply and enjoy it-you never know what's going to happen tomorrow.

Jun 17: It's the direction that you're looking that affects what you do now so consider what happens if you're always looking back.

Jun 18: The world moves fast: no past, no future, just present.

Jun 19: People know you only from what you show about yourself.

Jun 20: Being concerned about what other people think of you is different from being aware of what others think of you.

Jun 21: Being self-aware allows more freedom to choose.

Jun 22: Put less in and shrink. Put more in and grow. True on so many levels.

Jun 23: Simple pleasures make daily happiness easy.

Jun 24: There's stuff to make us smile anywhere and everywhere.

Jun 25: Intention is the difference between an innocent question and prejudice.

Jun 26: Getting clear about my intentions gets me in touch with what's really going on...even if it's not very nice.

Jun 27: Not wanting to do something you said you would do is human. Actually doing it - despite that - is something greater.

Jun 28: Anything can become truth. It just needs enough people to agree on it.

Jun 29: If you have good news, give it greater life by sharing it.

Jun 30: Keep your truth alive by being consistent with what you think, say and do.

*all my own!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Class of 2011: Onwards and Upwards

The staff room floor...
Teachers always approach the last day of school for a group of Year 13 students with a certain amount of trepidation. Traditionally, it’s viewed as the Annual Day of Practical Jokes. This year, their last day coincided with the day of the Leavers’ Boat Party where the Leavers of Our School and Another Local Girls’ School enjoy a boat cruise along the Thames.

Before the night’s festivities, however, my school’s staff were greeted with several slightly surreal scenes: hundreds of partly-filled plastic cups of water in a staff-room devoid of furniture; a spectacular pyramid-shaped sculpture of tables gaffer-taped together on the lawn and inside several teaching rooms, a variety of computer items cling-filmed together.

It was all very good-humoured. I will miss this year group in particular, as their start as fresh-faced young men was also mine. Their metamorphosis into gentlemen was brought home when I arrived at the local pub for an informal drink. Every one of the boys was wearing an evening suit and looked impeccable.

This good humour continued through the night. Boarding a boat at Putney pier it became apparent that it was not just our School Leavers (and staff!) who had made an effort to look their best: the girls ensured the limelight was not stolen by the sharp lines of a well-cut tuxedo.

Quick consumption of drinks (including those of the alcoholic variety) was followed by a very pleasant two-course meal. London’s landmarks along the Thames provided an excellent backdrop to the sharing of embarrassing school stories, anecdotes of times gone by and musing about the future.

The DJ provided a range of suitable music to get our feet moving. The enthusiasm (perhaps fuelled by a certain elixir) with which certain songs were embraced was impressive. This was even more so when the boat suffered a power failure and plunged the celebration into darkness. Undaunted, our boys continued singing party anthems, clapping and taking the crowd with them.

The Head Boy continued this undaunted spirit by giving out the Leavers’ Awards. Each one was accompanied by his wry, humorous take on his peers. These awards, organised and voted for by the boys themselves underlined the strong sense of community present amongst our pupils – due in no small part to the positive environment staff create.

Other highlights of the evening included: a Kilt; a cowboy Hat; a teacher’s smooth dancefloor moves (no not mine) and the Girls’ School Leavers remarking on how wonderful our staff were.

This evening not only gives the Leavers an opportunity to dress up – it also represents a chance for boys to say their goodbyes: to each other and to the staff who have nurtured them. It really is about their moving on to pastures new – the call of life beyond the cosy walls of Our School must be heeded. The ‘special relationship’ between staff and student that makes Our School unique was palpably present on the boat that night. I’m sure each boy will take fond memories of their time with us as they move onwards and upwards.

Monday, July 18, 2011

JDS Insights: May 2011

May...I remember that month.

People moving away...the weather brightening up a little...and me discovering my anger doesn't have to run me...nope - my worry does!

Worrying about all the things I have to get done.

I think everyone worries about this. Aside from being wholly unproductive, the effect is to take us away from the present moment. Which makes us even less able to deal with what we have to get done.

I mean, *everyone* has more to get done than they actually have time for.

Still, in May I read this, did it and it worked. And still works.

It took a bit of thought and tinkering but I've got something that fits with me.

So I worry less. And the present moment is more appealing.

01 May: If it can get worse it will. It all depends on how you think about it.

02 May: Everyone has an opinion about everything. It doesn't always help to express them.

03 May: Unsolicited opinions make no difference.

04 May: Aging and maturity don't happen at the same rate.

05 May: We all get something from complaining otherwise we wouldn't do it.

06 May: We are not as rational as we justify to ourselves that we are.

07 May: A good justification obscures the truth.

08 May: Hiding something is the same as lying about it.

09 May: Deceiving oneself takes a lot of energy.

10 May: Keep digging and it is fascinating what I can discover about myself. But it makes no difference until I share what I notice.

11 May: Everyone has something to contribute to the planet.

12 May: Good ideas kept in one's brain make nothing happen. When shared, all sorts of stuff can happen.

13 May: Navel-gazing is pointless.

14 May: We all know the thing to do that will make the biggest difference to our lives. But why do so few of us do it?

15 May: If I keep doing something I get better at it. Whether it's conscious or unconscious.

16 May: If I keep losing my temper in response to something. Losing my temper will become the way I respond.

17 May: Miscommunication happens because I don't listen.

18 May: There is always another way.

19 May: Think deeply about what's really important and it might surprise.

20 May: It can be very difficult to discern what is worth your time and what isn't.

21 May: Is there anything worth losing your temper for?

22 May: Arguments can be useful if there is a deeper commitment to something much bigger behind it.

23 May: Lying can be easier than telling the truth because in the short-term it takes less energy.

24 May: The planet is the way it is because people don't clear up their broken promises.

25 May: There is only so much information you can process at any one time.

26 May: Is it possible for humanity in its entirety to agree on something?

27 May: The less we can agree the harder it is for us to embrace our humanity.

28 May: Writing down and clarifying what I need to get done empties my head and frees me up to create.

29 May: When commitments are clear, the right tools can make a huge difference to action.

30 May: We behave more like stimulus-response mechanisms than we realise.

31 May: Old habits don't die hard. They just never get replaced with new ones.

*These are all mine.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

JDS Insights: April 2011

April was a while ago.

Things were changing...and we were settling in. It was the final push before the exam season at school.

Easter Holidays were the turning point.

I also started to discover stuff about my neighbourhood. Community is important and can exist.

But that was then.
01 Apr: Knowing doesn't make a difference to how I act. Just take the action.

02 Apr: If I'm going to stop doing something I had better make sure I have something to replace it. Otherwise nonsense will fill the space.

03 Apr: You don't change habits. Just create new ones.

04 Apr: I can either be creating the projects in my life or be driven by my demons.

05 Apr: You can't live an interesting life using default settings.

06 Apr: Creation can't happen in a foggy head.

07 Apr: Daily living fills my head with stuff and nonsense.

08 Apr: Empty your head every night and get more done every day.

09 Apr: You can only fill up an open box.

10 Apr: There is actually always enough time in a day.

11 Apr: It's not the size of the house but the size of the welcome.

12 Apr: People love to be told what to think, do and say.

13 Apr: I am the source.

14 Apr: We are always creating our next experience - whether we like it or not, whether it's conscious or not.

15 Apr: Life has no morality. That's a human construction. Life just is.

16 Apr: There is beauty in everyone. Yet some people choose to hide theirs.

17 Apr: Without ugliness there is no beauty. But ugliness and beauty are both opinion.

18 Apr: Ugliness and beauty depend on which way you look at it. Like everything in life.

19 Apr: There is nothing wrong with properly expressed anger.

20 Apr: Deny your expression of an emotion and deny your self.

21 Apr: You always know the truth.

22 Apr: There is a difference between living and surviving.

23 Apr: We are all going to die. But the need to he right about what happens (or doesn't happen) next is wasted energy.

24 Apr: Live your own truth - not some half-baked version based on what someone else tells you.

25 Apr: Religion: how to avoid: i) thinking for yourself and ii) being responsible for making judgements based on your own experience.

26 Apr: Lift your head above your own petty existence, to discover that everyone has their heads buried in their petty existence.

27 Apr: Enlightenment: embracing your own petty existence whilst remembering the possibility of something bigger.

28 Apr: You can't look to the past and the future at the same time. Choose one as a guide.

29 Apr: The only time I can do anything about anything is right now.

30 Apr: Everyone has something to contribute.
These are all from me.