I took a risk on Friday and asked our Prep School pupils to sit crossed legged on the floor with me, and listen to whales singing in the Pacific Ocean.

We were having our end of week assembly on the idea of the growth mindset and we spent some time thinking not just about the occasions when we say things are too hard or we can’t do something but also those times when we think our work is perfect. There were plenty of nods when I asked the children whether they felt a bit disappointed when they presented what they saw as a perfect piece of work, only to be asked by their teacher to improve it.

One of our Year 6 pupils then quite rightly pointed out that nothing is perfect and work can always be improved. My thunder was stolen!

We went on to think about the power of ‘yet’. For example, ‘ I can’t do this yet’ or ‘I am not quick enough at this yet’, or ‘I can’t get all my spellings right yet’. 

The point was taken. We all need to be unafraid of getting things wrong or finding things difficult. We need to be confident that we will get stronger and more able every day.

We thought too about how a baby develops and of course no baby ever gives up trying to walk or talk.

And then we took a few minutes to silently reflect because at the end of the school day, to think over our lessons helps us assimilate our learning. Boredom makes you brainy!

We sat, spaced apart on the carpet, and closed our eyes. As we listened to the sounds of the ocean and the call of whales, I talked the pupils through an imaginary journey of being a whale swimming in the Pacific. For some it was a bit too different and there were few, inevitable giggles. However, we soon settled and afterwards many of the children talked about really feeling present in the experience. 

It is always a privilege to be part of a young person’s learning journey and to help them discover something new is particularly special. We will continue to make occasional periods of quiet reflection part of the learning journey at Stoke and to swim with whales.