You don’t need more time; you need more focus.
As the old proverb states, ‘One of these days, is none of these days’.
While struggling to finish his magnum opus, Moby Dick, writer Herman Melville reportedly asked his wife to chain him to his desk to prevent him from becoming distracted. Former US president Bill Clinton was also a notorious procrastinator; Time Magazine once reported on the ‘harrowing last-minute cut-and-paste sessions’ before Clinton approved an important bill or speech. Even Da Vinci, widely regarded as one of history’s greatest minds, was a hopeless procrastinator, only finishing The Last Supper after his patron threatened to cut off his funding. We have all been there and, while procrastination clearly isn’t a barometer of ultimate failure, there is no doubt that it can present a major stumbling block.
In more recent times, we have learnt that some individuals are more pre-disposed to procrastination than others and, as a school, we have various services of support in place and in planning. But more chronic forms of procrastination aside, most young people do invariably need encouragement to use their time wisely and productively. Indeed, the Headmaster frequently delivers a message to our students about getting ahead. When things come down to the wire in any pursuit, we have greatest control of the outcome if we have prepared appropriately and put in the required effort in advance. The feedback I hear in conversation with many Year 12 students, who have only a few weeks left, is that they wish they had started working harder sooner. In acknowledging the value of their insight (and, for some, their oversight), I shared this feedback in Muster as an encouragement to our younger students to heed the advice – You don’t need more time; you need more focus.
A student’s time at St Peter’s College has a chronology of milestones encountered throughout his years at the School. This term – Term 3 – delivers a number of these big moments for our more senior students, in particular. House Dinners are a great example and, over the past few weeks, have provided a platform to showcase the relationships that have formed and deepened over years between Mentors and their graduating students. Term 3 is also a time when our Year 11 students consider applying for formal School and House leadership positions for their final year; and when Year 10 students consider their subject choices and their futures more deeply. In addressing ‘getting ahead’, both of these milestones are examples of when we expect students to show ‘runs on the board’ in terms of engagement and performance.
The values of the School – Truth, Respect and Service – never fail to be the lighthouses we need them to be in this regard, guiding our students to show their best efforts and qualities in all settings. Unsurprisingly, therefore, we are seeing more and more Year 10 students choose accelerated subjects to access a higher level of learning, and more and more Year 11 students are applying to become a School Prefect, confident that they have taken advantage of the opportunities for service offered to them over the years.
Whilst studying an accelerated subject is not every student’s goal nor interest (nor should it be), it is important to note that those who aspire to this must have emerged as highly engaged students in the preceding years. I am occasionally surprised to see Year 10 students opt for Stage 2 subjects with no runs on the board. The same is the case for positions of leadership – certainly not the goal of every student – but those Year 11 students who are aspirational in this regard should manage their expectations if, on paper, they have only made a very late charge towards the concept of service.
When the world is changing at a such a rate – with new leaders and heads of state – there is no day to seize the day like today. Please support us in promoting this message to your sons.
Deputy Headmaster / Head of Senior School