Thought_A-256

Lessons From Dr Seuss

Creator of rhymes and of stories spectacular

Used words both rare and in the venacular.

His name was Suess and the books that he wrote

Told tales of wonder and demand a requote.

For the lessons therein have much to remember

From January all the way through to December.

Both children and adults can learn quite a lot

From the Grinch to the Cat to Horton and Yot.

Each one has a lesson right there at its core

It leads us to read even further and more.

So here is the talk that I gave to our school

On an occasion when the need was there to refuel.

I hope you find it both inspiring and useful

And to old Dr Suess be eternally grateful.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

On the occasion of our school’s 2010 Awards Evening – 30 November.

Good evening parents, Board members, honoured guests and pupils.

I am never quite sure what direction to take my Awards Evening address as there is always so much that can be said when there is a captive audience!

In my first year at this school I spoke mainly about how each one of us is uniquely gifted to make a difference in the world in our own special way. Last year I focused on on the incredible role we have as parents in moulding and shaping the young lives in our care.

This year I would like to start by asking a question of the adults in the audience :

“How many of you can remember reading a Dr Seuss book when you were a child?”

Now let me ask our pupils : “How many of you have read a book by Dr Seuss – the author who wrote “Cat In The Hat”, “Green Eggs And Spam”, “Horton Hears A Who” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”?

I have fond memories of enjoying the rhythm and rhyme of the rhyming couplets of these books as a little child as first my parents read them to me and then I too discovered the joy of exploring the words.

Who can resist lines such as –

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

or

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. Its not.”

or this one which is perhaps appropriate for this time of year,

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of seomthing he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

One of my favourite Dr Seuss books of all time is “Oh The Places You’ll Go”. This books reminds me that no matter what challenges may lie ahead of me, with the right attitude and with the wisdom to make correct choices, I can succeed.

I believe this is an appropriate message for us as a school as we come to the end of a year which has, in many ways, been a challenging one for staff, parents and pupils.

There are 4 lessons which I would like to share with you this evening from “Oh The Places You’ll Go” which have a bearing on the nature of this occasion and on us as a school community:

1) You have all the basic skills needed for you to accomplish your goals.

During times of difficulty it becomes very easy for us to focus on that which we do not have. We start to believe that we cannot achieve because of our wants. Perhaps it is time for a refocus. Perhaps it is time to start looking at what we do have. Our school has had a tough year, particularly on the financial front, and yet we still have a team of dedicated teachers, a growing sports academy, a full and varied cultural and academic program and a supportive parent body. These are the ingredients for future success and I believe that as we focus on what we do have, we will build strength in our school.

2) Be a leader in your niche by being the “best of the best”.

Our school needs confidently to position itself as the best independent English-medium Christian-ethos school in our community. We need to continue to seek new and innovative teaching methods, build strategic partnerships within the community and strengthen our overall educational product.

3) When obstacles arise, be prepared to overcome them through ingenuity. Evaluate the situation and take action.

We have faced several obstacles this year. In each case creative ideas have had to be sought to overcome them. It would have been much easier simply to give up and wallow in self-pity but we have not done so and I believe we have come out the stronger for it. Solutions have been sought and found and we will continue to work at strengthening our school as we move into 2011.

4) Don’t allow fear to keep you from moving toward your goal.

Fear paralyzes us and keeps us from achieving what we are capable of and as parents giving into our fears may mean denying our children opportunities. Fear of failure, feare of ridicule, fear of what our friends might think, fear of the unknown, fear of the consequences of our mistakes, fear of repeating the mistakes our parents made and fear of our own insecurities can and do prevent us from reaching the goals we have set for ourselves and our children.

We cannot allow fear to be our reality. We need to grasp our reality with both hands, be grateful for what we have and use the opportunities we have been given to their potential. Only then can we achieve the goals ahead of us.

In the book “Oh The Places You’ll Go” we are told,

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Boys and girls, as we celebrate the achievements of fellow-pupils this evening, I want to remind you that each of you has a bright future ahead. You will face challenges – physical challenges, academic challenges, family challenges. No matter the obstacle you face you will have a choice as to how to deal with it. I hope and pray that you will make the right choice and that you will face your obstacles with faith, strong character and a determination to succeed.

Well done to those who receive awards this evening. You have learnt these lessons and are leading the way in showing your peers how to face challenges and grasp the opportunities given to you.

I would like to read the last few pages of “Oh The Places You’ll Go” as a message to all of us tonight – let’s listen then to the wisdom of Dr Seuss:

“All Alone!

Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something

You’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance

You’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

That can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go

Though the weather be foul

On you will go

Though your enemies prowl.

On you will go

Though the Hakken-Kraks howl,

Onward up many a frightening creek,

Though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike

And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know,

You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dextrous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will indeed!

(98 and ¾ per cent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So … get on your way!

(excerpt from “Oh The Places You’ll Go”, Dr Seuss, Collins, 1990; orig. 1957)

"Oh The Places You'll Go" by Dr Seuss

Click on the cover to buy the book.