b'THE ELLESMERIAN To be fair to me, I have been on the receiving end of longI hope that pupils develop a sense of optimism while they are speeches, so I have always felt sympathy with my audiencehere, but also a sense of humility. One of my regular messages in even as I was delivering a long speech that I felt was my duty.Headmasters Assemblynot in response to any problemsis 6Many years ago, before I became Headmaster, at a differentthe reminder that the most important thing we can do with each school, I remember the time when speech giving at thatother is to be kind, and to show mutual respect. school was not just the format that you will experience here,but also a guest speaker. Guest speakers can be interesting, I think Ellesmerians are very good at this, although they are of course . . . human and they are young, so they are far from perfect and therefore they do not always get it rightbut that is fine. One of On this occasion the guest speaker was the local MP.the things that I hope Ellesmerians begin to learnand, as it happens, I was speaking about this in assembly yesterdayis that He hit upon the idea of reading excerpts from his old schoolthey are not the centre of the universe. They are not the most reports to show that even those who had done badly at school,important thing in the world (except, perhaps, and I hope, to as he had done, could go on to become successes in life.their parents).Initially this seemed like an interesting idea but after 40 minutesI use the phrase begin to learn because I know many people in we had finished highlights from his prep school reports and weretheir 40s and 50s who still do not grasp this. The more we can moving on to those from his time in his senior school. Everyonesdo to help our children recognise that they should look patience was beginning to wear a little thin. Fortunately theoutwards rather than inwards and focus their concern on others, speaker did not hear the loud whisper from one member ofthe more I am confident that we will be producing happy and staff: He has been going for 40 minutes and we are only on hisproductive members of society. 14th year, he is 68 for goodness sake: we will be here forever. The famous author Dale Carnegie once wrote: You will be relieved to know that I am not going to substitute Ellesmeres achievements with extracts from my school reports.You can make more friends in two months by becoming really Not all of them would cast me in a good light.I cannot say that interested in other people than you can in two years by tryingI particularly enjoyed my own schooling: I attended a narrowlyto get other people interested in you. focused very academic grammar school and I found it all rather boring and limiting.And you cannot truly be interested in other people if your main focus is yourself. Getting through difficult times, whether it be my schooling, listening to a very long speech, ormore seriouslysurvivingAs I have noted I am not going to attempt a summary of the the physical and economic effects of Covid, is greatly helped ifyear. Of course, once I move away from a summary of the year one has the right mindset. I have no doubt at all that aany selection can appear invidious: why did he choose to disposition towards optimism helps enormously in that respect. mention that, but not my area/achievement? I am afraid I willI would also recommend (very, very strongly) the ancientjust have to take the risk. philosophy of stoicism. If you only know a little bit about stoicism it might seem strange to couple it with optimism, since the mostIt would certainly be bizarre were I not to mention the fact that famous phrase associated with stoicism is momento mori, whichthree very recent Ellesmerians took part in the Tokyo Olympics translates as remember you are mortal, or remember you willwith one, Freya Anderson, achieving a gold medal. I am uncertain diewhich certainly does not sound terribly optimistic.of the precise number, but I believe that seven Ellesmerians took Understood properly, however it is very optimistic.up or were offered sports scholarshipseffectively free placesat American universities last year.There were the usual national I think a lot about these things and the metaphor often used forselections in a wide variety of sports. optimism is that some people are glass half empty people, and some are glass half full people. I think the correct aspiration is to be the person who takes the view that I have a glass: thats a great start.The remember you are mortal message is an injunction to enjoy your life and to make the best of it now and every daywhich is certainly a message that I think supports an optimistic and positive approach to life.Throughout all these challenging times it remains an absolutely fantastic world if you have the right attitude and you are well prepared. Ellesmere certainly sets out at a practical level to ensure that its leavers are well prepared, by giving them appropriate challenges academically and in so many co-curricular areas.'