Posted by Tim Stuck
on 12 August 2021
Many of the questions about the Olympics connect to the theme of realising excellence in our schools, although the stakes are much higher and issues are more complex in schools than in the sports’ arenas.
First, there is the question of what excellence entails. In education as in sports, we know that excellence is more than speed and mastery of basic skills, although those measures count. In education, unlike in the Olympics, we are preparing our young men at Francis Douglas Memorial College New Plymouth, for life, not one big test. Considering the needs of the changing world, does excellence in maths and science count more than excellence in the arts, communications, or problem solving – or is it the other way around? Does excellence always equal A’s? Or does reaching excellence at the College mean we prepare emotionally healthy, challenged young men – the whole person – to tackle the real world?
A connection between excellence at the Olympics and excellence in schools comes down to a matter of motivation. Whether the coaches exerted powerful control or were true “guides on the side”, it is obvious that they had much to do with helping the athletes aspire to, and achieve, excellence. This is similar to parents and teachers guiding our young men to become Good College Men so they can add value to our society. The best schools both challenge and support their students. What drives an individual person to seek excellence in sports might be recognition and rewards, the competition against others, or doing one’s personal best. In schools, too, those things motivate, but the purpose is larger. When you have a purpose, you know that everything you do counts. Purpose acts as the moral compass north on the route to personal excellence. Sometimes you may not win the gold medal or receive excellent grades in all subject areas. However, reaching one's potential……….this is a challenge for us all. The Olympics has reminded me that every day, we as a community, a school, should be trying to add value to ourselves, trying to reach our own gold medal standards and excellence achievement. This will certainly serve society well in the future.
Good College Man
Congratulations to Zac Reid and his involvement in the New Zealand Swimming Team for the Tokyo Olympics. Zac competed in the 400m and 800m Freestyle swimming events. He is a good college man who managed a PB in his 800m race and he broke his own NZ record in the process