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Me or We? -Headmaster’s Blog -Wednesday 14th March 2017

March 15, 2017
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Me or we?

Last week’s Sunday Times contained an article by a concerned independent school Headmaster who, it was reported, is introducing empathy lessons, warning that “Generation Me” has become ‘locked in a world of incomprehension, with an increasingly two-dimensional understanding of other people.’ Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School, Wimbledon, believes today’s teenagers are at risk of finding it difficult to form real relationships. He blames a ‘toxic cocktail’ of factors such as divorce, addiction to smartphones and tablets; a rise in day care for babies and toddlers; and the curtailment of outdoor play with friends.

It’s very easy to lash out at the ‘me generation’ and to look back fondly to the pre-digital age. Undoubtedly this Headmaster is reflecting accurately on some of the distressing aspects of twenty-first century life (and I can identify with this as a fellow Head) but, as with most arguments, there’s much to say on ‘the other side’.

Whilst I accept that the computer screen and the mobile ‘phone (for example) can have an adverse effect on the forming of close-knit social relationships, they can also enable the young person to engage more meaningfully with the world today. Just recently I was chatting to a group of teenagers who regularly access the news online and through this have become impassioned about social issues which have led to more and not less involvement. This can be seen, for example, in the number of our pupils who are keen to attend ‘We Day’ in London later this month – a large gathering of young people with world concerns on their minds and a desire to take action.

waste-week-collage-ballard school

Our Waster Week upcycling challenge

Furthermore, as part of a clear concern by our Eco Committee in what is ‘waste week’, we have witnessed a drive to ‘upcycle’ things ranging from corks to toilet rolls, tin cans to bottle tops. Other pupils have spent a great deal of time promoting their House charity and we shall shortly be having a ‘role reversal day’ to raise funds for community work in Kenya.

I am not denying that we face a world with severe and significant social issues but I do hope that the ‘bad news’ won’t obscure so much that is being done that’s wholesome, collaborative and praiseworthy – and which leads to close and positive relationships based on ‘we’ rather than ‘me’.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Henri permalink
    March 15, 2017 10:35 am

    I agree Mr Reid. There is always a balance in these things. The technology links them to the wider world as you say but also to each other for support and friendship once the school day is finished. Much of the interaction on phones I find is good interaction – sharing a funny story or being kind and listening when someone has a bad day. “Streaks” on Snapchat seemed very odd to me until I realised how it kept friends bonded everyday – almost like a handshake each morning.

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