The relentless focus over 2 decades by politicians and educationalists on school improvement measures is laudable, because we all want school to be successful places of learning. Andy Murray’s take on ‘how champions learn’ challenges that notion somewhat; it could be argued that our greatest experts in success are rather too often mavericks to the accepted wisdom that it’s the linear process up the ladder of success the learner needs to pursue. And though there are plentiful examples of successful children becoming so as adults too, I sense that perhaps this is how to grow successful academics, not a recipe for how to do the same for every adult vocation, skill and craft. What is clear is that we simply don’t surface enough great tennis players or for that matter sportsmen and women more generally through normal routes involving a traditionally balanced education.
Now, I don’t think the answer is to cut History or Art or subject, but to provide more of the extra aspects and keep the curriculum well blended. All too often the athlete pulls up lame, or the singer’s throat is sore and so forth. It’s at times like these that the other dimensions come back into play, to capture interest and provoke thought. And no where is that more obvious than when meeting young choristers at Cathedral choir schools.
We know and accept this fact for dancers, for musicians, for choristers, for performers – for these we need to provide a skewed curriculum enhanced with the skill we want to develop. Watching The Choir last night (Sunday 22 December), we saw workplaces choirs face their finals in the beautiful surrounding of Ely Cathedral, and receiving some coaching by the choristers of Kings School based there. The young boys and slightly older girls were clear coherent and incisive in their advice “Sing to the one person at the back of the Cathedral and let the walls do the rest” said one.
Andy Murray talks about defeat and failure being essential elements of learning how to win. He’s wrong when he says they are the only ones, after all if that were the case, why would he have chosen Ivan Lendl as his coach. Being mentored by the great and the good also includes a modicum of inspiration too. If life was only about grazed knees we’d all give up tomorrow; it’s when grazed knees are gained during a learning journey to a place we want to be is when we learn to strive!
Anyway, if you didn’t know, Claires Court has a workplace choir, lead by our data manager John Carr. Together with Pauline Carr, our director of curriculum, they make a fine husband and wife team on camera too, so we have some good evidence of the Claires Court Staff Choir in action – most recently at one of our end of term Carol services. Here they are in full flow at St. Lukes Church Maidenhead, singing John’s own arrangement of Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree.
Not surprisingly the Staff Choir inspires our school community old and young alike, for they are doing something we can’t do, and certainly couldn’t envision unless the staff showed us how. That’s the surest way of growing successfully as a learner; see something you simply couldn’t imagine and be inspired by that experience to learn how to! Oh, and learn to take the knocks along the way, because if learning journeys were easy and without pain, then no-one would want to travel that way in the first place.