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From the Headmaster's desk

You may be aware that The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book and therefore not surprised that as a boy I played Dungeons and Dragons.  Given that I have already confessed that I enjoy the occasional Dallas episode, I consider this revelation only a marginal deepening of embarrassment.

I played D&D with a handful of peers.  One was the ‘Dungeon Master’ (DM): he established what lay behind doors and beyond mountains; he organized and arbitrated and, almost without exception, swatted our protests about the unlikelihood of scenarios and unfairness of challenges.  The rest of us were characters on a campaign.  We had to use our own ingenuity as well as our character’s particular skills.  Therefore the game intentionally mimicked Tolkien’s fellowship (of nine, in that case) in The Lord of the Rings: the group had to have the right skills as a unit to complete the mission.

The same applies in X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Incredibles, and so on.  In these films, talents are complementary and used for the benefit of the group.  Kirk needs Spock and Scotty; James Bond needs M and Q.  Ringo Starr was an influential drummer, and John Lennon didn’t say, as is sometimes claimed, that Starr ‘wasn’t the best drummer in the world… Let’s face it, he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles’ – but in any case, the Beatles needed a bespoke drummer and McCartney, though talented enough, could not have done the job and made his own vital contribution.  The Beatles could not have been a duo.

This principle was brought to my mind while working with a quartet of Year 8 (virtual) volunteers today.  Their talents, though individually considerable and sometimes overlapping, were sufficiently distinct to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, just as an orchestra blends sound to everyone’s advantage.  I commented on this and the boys explained that working together was second nature: team sports, choirs, and orienteering were mentioned, as well as the custom of helping one another revise.  Also today, in interview practice, a boy said to me that he didn’t like rugby ‘apart from the team aspect’.  I smiled at a good answer.

Last night, at the end of Year 8 exam week, boys and parents cheered Mrs Kelly, who has overseen the operation.  I have been fortunate to work with a Senior Management Team that is cohesive despite its differences; it was exciting on Wednesday to introduce the multi-talented quartet that will oversee next term’s Year 6 testing.  I know that one of Sarah Essex’s many strengths is her ability to draw out the best in others, and Pilgrims’, at every level, relies on teamwork and diversity of talents.  Every team is best served if its constituent parts supply different strengths.

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