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Idleness can be good for you! -Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 12th April 2017

April 12, 2017

Idleness can be good for you!

Each week I include a quotation at the top of our bulletin to parents and repeat this on my Monday briefing notes for staff. I pick up the quotations in various ways. Sometimes it is something I have seen on a classroom wall, read in a newspaper or simply researched using a theme that seems appropriate for the time of the year.

Just this week I had a staff member come to see me and she was brandishing a copy of the quotation I had used at the end of the term. When someone approached me in this fashion (as reported in another blog) I get momentarily rather nervous: is this for good or for ill? In this case it was the former. She wanted to say how encouraged she had been by the quotation and had, now that the holidays were underway, taken the advice literally by sitting on a bench under a tree and lying back observing the sky. This was the quotation:

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time

(John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury 1834-1913, English naturalist)

We will all find our leisure and our rest in different ways and that in itself is good. The important thing is that we do rest, recuperate and refresh. I think it was John and Charles Wesley’s mother, Susanna, who had 19 children and the only way she could find a time to rest (and to pray) was to sit in her kitchen with a towel over her head! When she did this for a few minutes each day her children (and husband, Samuel) knew they should give her space.

It is important, in my view, that couples give each other ‘space’ to be themselves. This may be to allow each other to pursue a hobby or meet with a friend, to go for a walk alone or even to indulge in an extreme sport. I mention the latter only in so far as I was privileged to receive a birthday present of a flight in a 4-seater aircraft this week. My wife was offered a seat, too, but felt it best that I experience this ‘lifetime wish’ on my own – or at least with an experienced pilot! It was indeed exhilarating and, for me, an unusual and unexpected treat.


Taking the opportunity to do an extreme sport or something which’d been on your wish list – part of relaxing when on holiday.

Our children will observe how we take our rest and refreshment and this will give them an example and a lead for their own lives, of course. Let’s not scorn the moments to ‘stop and stare’ (perhaps with mobile technology turned off), to rest a while and to ‘listen to the murmur of the water’.

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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