Westbourne Grammar

Work hard. Be nice.

On behalf of the School Council and staff of Westbourne Grammar, I extend a very special and warm welcome to all families returning to Westbourne Grammar and, in particular, acknowledge those families and children who are new to our School. What a wonderful year it will be in 2014, for it is the Year of the Horse, according to the Chinese Zodiac.

This means that 2014 will be a year which will be influenced by the wooden horse’s characteristics of strong-minded energetic sociability. A year then of hard work, of fun and achievement.

I am particularly enamoured about the Year of the Horse because it touches on what I think we could adopt as our School motto for this year: ‘Work hard. Be nice’.

Why work hard? Why be nice?

Working hard is not about, for example, playing a range of scales and compositions accurately and easily. Working hard is not about doing endless hours of maths problems, comfortably and correctly for 30 minutes each night.

Don’t confuse working hard, please, with hours of doing ‘something’, however diligently. This task is not ‘working hard’. It is working repetitively for a period of time with no real mindfulness of purpose.

Working hard in fact equates to something called ‘deep practice’, something which can take a lot of courage because, here’s the killer, one is learning something one has no mastery over. Consider for example, a baby learning to walk. The effort involved in simply raising itself onto its knees, achieving that very cute stage of crawling takes enormous and concentrated deep focus. The motivation for a baby doing this is that glorious prize of self-ambulation, which can take up to two years to achieve. During this process, parents and older siblings guide, mentor, praise and celebrate the final achievement. But only the baby can apply the deep practice necessary.

It is exactly the same as students at this School; work hard at what you cannot do, and work hard at seeking advice and direction from teachers, your peers and parents.

Furthermore, it occurs to me that if you want people to help you, you have to be nice. Everything is so much easier when we remember our manners.

The greatest leaders of our time, people like Hillary Clinton or the late Nelson Mandela I believe have, and had, three remarkable personal characteristics:

• they are respectful of themselves
• they are respectful of others around them
• they are respectful of the world at large.

This is the essence of great leadership, and this is the essence of being nice.

Imagine if our School was a school where all of us, every day, worked hard at what we had yet to achieve, worked hard at understanding, and worked hard at supporting one another.

That, boys and girls, would mean that we would become a great school. I believe we can do this.

2014 – Year of the Horse – ‘Work hard. Be nice’.

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