Connectedness at Carey

With a four year old and two year old, life at home is not only frenetic, but at times, quite exciting.

As Halloween approached last month I was very excited about the possibility of trick-or-treating with my eldest, Sophia. However, after some reflection, talked myself out of it by thinking of it as a consumerist American influence which is not appropriate for the day. Walking home that night on 31 October, I was struck by the happiness and delight on the streets as young families and friends paraded up and down the street in all sorts of interesting attire. What was so refreshing, and the real point of the activity, was the feeling of community and connectedness which many have not seen in their neighbourhoods for a long time.

Many cultures around the world see the time of the evening meal with family as the most important part of the day, and other chores and important jobs are forgone during this time of connecting. The House system at Carey has this relational approach to pastoral care and connectedness at its heart. Every House is a community in which our students are heard, seen, known and valued by their peers and House staff. The aim of this structure is to provide a safe microcosm within the larger whole, that will enable our students to thrive academically, socially, spiritually, emotionally and physically. This can only be achieved once strong trusting connections have been forged, and it is in our House and especially our mentor groups where these relationships can be nurtured.

On 2 and 3 December, students and their mentor will engage in a learning conversation. The opportunity to facilitate a conversation between the mentor and mentee about their learning is one of the most powerful and important aspects of each mentor’s role. The mentor is not only an advocate for their mentee, but they play a part in leading them to an understanding of who they are as a learner.

The School has set aside time for these conversations and, over the course of 2020, time will again be allocated between mentor and mentee to follow up these valuable reflection and goal-setting sessions. Students will be asked to prepare for this meeting, completing a series of prompt questions that will help guide (rather than lead) the conversation. These observations are important for the student to build a sense of who they currently are as a learner, and what steps can be taken to help them progress.

I was sent a rather interesting story by a friend last week about Thomas Edison. As we know, Edison is one of the world’s greatest inventors, but before he became so famous and while at School, this incident occurred – I am not entirely sure how accurate it is, but we do know that he was educated by his mother. One day, the young Thomas Edison returned from school with a letter he had been given by his teacher who stated it was for his mother to read only. As she was reading the letter, tears welled into her eyes and Thomas inquired what the letter said. She informed him the letter had said, ‘Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and does not have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.’ A few years later when Edison’s mother had passed away, he was cleaning out her belongings and found the letter he had brought home many years before. When he read the letter, it was not what she had read out to him. It instead stated ‘Your Son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school anymore. He is expelled.’ Later Thomas Edison wrote in his diary, ‘Thomas Edison is a mentally deficient child whose mother turned him into the genius of the century.’

Here’s what I took from this story: A positive word of encouragement can help change someone’s entire life.

Christian Gregory
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Welfare