[by Roger Loxley – Assembly Reading]
So, as Alice Cooper tells us, school is out for summer.
Not gone for ever, except for the upper sixth, nor blown to pieces, thank goodness (honestly).
But you do have a long summer ahead. It’s nine weeks tomorrow that we start back for the new academic year. Plenty of time to relax and do nothing.
But is that a good use of the time? I’m not expecting everyone to be working over the summer, we all need a break.
But it’s important to recognise that nine weeks is a long time and being idle for that duration is not necessarily a good use of it. You could almost make a film about such a break.
The devil, indeed, makes work for idle hands.
So, what am I recommending you do?
I’ll set you nine challenges. That’s one per week on average, although you may not be able to do one each week.
Your teachers can hear them as well, so when you get back in September that first tutor set will have an agenda.
So hear are my Nine Summer Challenges:
1. Try something new. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a new sport or hobby or activity. Just try to push yourself outside your comfort zone.
2. Do something for someone else who normally does things for you. Reciprocate. Again, it doesn’t have to be a massive issue, but put someone else’s needs before yours, at least once over the summer. Make the gesture and feel good inside having done it.
3. Read a book. Again, it doesn’t matter what, but read a book for pleasure. Last summer I read Wolf Hall and it was great! It also made a real connection with me because we walk the Upper Sixth Economists through Austin Friars on the annual Economics Tour. That was really great having read the book.
4. Go to a performance of something musical or dramatic. Doesn’t have to be a major festival or concert. But, for example, there’s a series of events in Jesmond Dene this summer. Outdoor plays. Why not take one of those in? It doesn’t cost much and you might enjoy it.
5. Take charge of something. If you’re going on holiday with the family, why not try to lead everyone through the airport on departure, work out how to get everyone out when you arrive, find the hire car firm or holiday rep and be the one who sets the tone. Don’t just loll along at the back being carried everywhere and paying no attention. Be at the front, leading it. You’ll appreciate it much more if you do.
6. Do some regular exercise. Go to the gym, ride your bike, go for a run. But stay physically active. The chemicals it releases will help you with other things. If you’re a vegetable all summer you’ll feel rubbish and unable to get started on anything.
7. Look after your well being, physically and mentally. Eat properly, go to sleep at a proper hour, don’t lie in until lunchtime every day. Above all, put your phone downstairs at night! We all need to catch up on sleep but too much is not good. Staying awake until 3am every night makes you tired, so don’t do it regularly.
8. Cook a meal for someone else. It’s no coincidence that the major religions have shared eating as a central part of their rituals. Cooking for someone, taking the time to think about providing sustenance for another person is one of the most basic and intimate human activities. It’s also a hugely valuable life skill so try it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Michelin standard but make sure you take the time, the trouble and the effort to think about it, plan and prepare.
9. Volunteer and help a good cause. Just give some time to a group in your community. It could be anything; but get involved, give generously, and feel good about it.
So, those are my nine challenges. If you can do all of them you’ll have a better summer than you would by doing nothing.
But, above all else, enjoy the break, do relax, but arrive back in September fit and healthy and ready for the new challenges of a new year.