“Anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”
– 2 Timothy 2:4-7
The world works in certain ways. There are patterns, practices, routines, and habits that help to shape us. Sometimes these routines are self-imposed, at other times, they are externally imposed. These patterns or boundaries can be found in almost every aspect of life, and once we know what they are, where they are, and how they function, they serve to make our lives easier to navigate and manage. They create and shape our lives, our communities, and our society.
If, like me, you live in a football-mad family, this week, and the weeks to come will be full of watching and talking football. The game works because of the rules and a shared understanding of how these create the boundaries that shape the game. And while lots of discussion can be about how the rules are interpreted or applied, it is only because of the agreed and shared rules that the “beautiful game” is possible. The players know the rules and don’t need to waste energy thinking or being worried about how to play, what the rules are, or the size of the pitch/goal/penalty box. Instead, they focus on training, on developing their ability and tactics, and on playing the game.At NBCS, we continue to work towards creating a consistent environment, where expectations are clear, known, understood, and put into practice. In this way we remove uncertainty for our students about what is expected, which helps them to feel secure and calm. It means that their energy and thinking can be focused on learning rather than figuring out what is expected of them in their behaviour.
Whenever a player in the World Cup walks onto the pitch, they do so in the colours and uniform of their national team. They are an individual, playing in a team, representing a nation. The one becomes part of the group, representing the whole. This is true for our students here at NBCS. And while the game isn’t football, and victory is about personal and academic growth, not defeating others, parallels remain. Every NBCS student represents themselves, their family, and their school. This is true in uniform or in everyday clothing, in public or at school. When we become aware that we are part of a bigger whole, it can change the way we see and present ourselves, as well as helping us to feel a sense of deeper belonging.
As we head into 2023, we will remain clear about our expectations and straightforward about following through on them, whether about uniforms, behaviour, learning or interacting with others. We value our students and their learning (individually and collectively). We value them too much to divert our attention and efforts from them. I know that occasionally students might say “I don’t know why it’s such a big deal that…” to which my response is “it may not be for you, but it is for me. And if it isn’t a big deal for you, then it should be easy to go along with what is required of you, just as others do”. Boundaries are important, they help shape our lives. Boundaries are important, especially for children and teenagers, who will push against them, but then relax and get on with more important things when they realise that the boundaries are fixed, firm and fair. Within the boundaries is the freedom to enjoy and get on with the game in ways that are helpful for one and all.