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Headmaster’s Blog – Raising resilient ‘I can’ people

May 20, 2013

I have just attended the annual three day conference for ISA Heads. Our theme was ‘resilience in leadership’. We had some truly inspirational talks including one by Richard McCann wBallard School 2010ho lost his mother aged five when she became the first of the Yorkshire Ripper’s victims. His mantra, using letters from his names , was ‘I can’.

Richard McCann had an abusive father, was in care homes most of his younger years and later, amongst much else, ended up in prison and became suicidal. One of the most significant people in this life was his secondary school English teacher who encouraged him to enter a House public-speaking competition (which he won ) and this transformed his thinking. Whilst he had several ‘downs’ in his life thereafter he never forgot the ‘I can’ inspirational approach of this teacher. Richard McCann now travels the world giving talks and helping others going through traumas. He has written four books, too.

At the beginning of this academic year we also shared with parents something of this approach in our informal evening. Part of the evening was an encouragement to consider some aspects of ‘letting go’ as children get older and also the significance of trying new things (as, for example, espoused by the National Trust in their campaign to try 50 ordinary yet uplifting things before children emerge into adulthood).

I very much hope none of us has to learn the hard way, as Richard McCann has done,  but I for one will endeavour to take inspiration from his ‘I can’ approach to life.

Alastair Reid

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