The end of the beginning

I was recently asked to write a piece for secondary school leavers.  Here’s my first draft.

“Now is not the End. It is not even the beginning of the End. But it is, perhaps, the End of the Beginning” – Sir Winston Churchill, November 1942.

Stepping out beyond the world of school after having spent up to 14 years in the system can be an exciting, relieving, and potentially frightening experience. However, I think Winston Churchill’s words, which he used to describe victory in the Battle of Britain, can be used to capture the notion  that schooling is not an end in itself – in fact in educational terms this is not even the beginning of the end of your education. Nevertheless, it does mark an important transfer point as you move into adult life and lifelong learning.

As the father of two sons who have both left school in the last three years, I have come to appreciate that learning about life only really begins once your child has left school. I would encourage you to seek out opportunities, challenges and experiences upon which you can build a strong foundation to lead the rest of your lives.

It is an interesting statistic that 1 in 5 children born today will live to the age of 100. With that in mind your journey is only just at the start and I believe that it is important that we don’t see ourselves as being fully formed individuals at the age of 18. As a member of the older generation I have come to realise that the judgements that we make about our peers when we are 17 or 18 years old can be remarkably inaccurate when we meet them again 30 years later. I would urge you to keep an open mind on all those with whom you have shared such a valuable educational experience and enjoy meeting them in the future when you are able to compare and contrast your lives beyond school.

You have been so fortunate to have experienced such a rich and rewarding education as that provided by your school and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you well for the future as you set out on your journey -wherever that road may take you.

3 thoughts on “The end of the beginning

  1. I agree completely on keeping an open mind about those with whom we have shared schooling. Our year group from Knox had a reunion in the year 2000, when we were all 40 years old. Most of us had not seen each other since we were 17. It was a really enjoyable and quite emotional evening. What struck me the most was the strength of the bond between those with whom we’d shared our primary years – even although, in many cases, these friendships had drifted apart somewhat during our secondary schooling.

  2. Don, I hope your school-leavers didn’t include too many historians. Churchill used these words in a speech after Field Marshall Montgomery’s destruction of Rommel’s Afrika Korps at the second battle of El Alamein in North Africa in November 1942. He did make a great speech after the Battle of Britain – but this wasn’t it.

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