By Richard Hall | Posted: Thursday October 15, 2020
'A tradition is not a tradition when it is bull.'
Our school has a tremendous history - a set of traditions and values that connect us to each other. Interestingly, re-reading Celia Lashlie's 'Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men' I was reminded by her assertion that boys like to be part of something bigger than themselves and that they like to be connected through a school to those who have come before. Both as role models or even as examples of what might happen to them. Tradition is a large part of that, those things that we do in this school that connect us to who we are and what we stand for.
This was born out by a survey this week of our Year 9's. When asked 97.3% have said they are proud to go to this school. The rites of passage, the traditions, the kind of place we are now, has connected them.
But not all tradition is positive.
We have one that we need to address. It relates to the sculpture that is in our school that the boys call 'Gay Rock'. It refers to a sculpture, created in 1983, that mirrors the theme of triangles in our buildings (seriously, look up sometime they are everywhere). I was stunned and upset to hear that somehow the tradition in this school was that if you sat on this pyramid, you were gay. Now I know this school has a history; a poor history often, of dealing with diversity. But the childish and hurtful nature of this 'tradition', is wrong. Not only does it send the wrong message about sexuality or diversity, it also alienates some of our past and current pupil's, the artist and men who tried to connect this work to the school.
If 'Above the Hoops' means treating everyone with respect, and it does, then that extends to everyone.
When you are the Rector of this school, people often assume all I have to do is say something and it becomes law - trust me I wish it were so! The reality is if I am going to stand up for the traditions of this school, for the traditions of who we are, I need to bring the keepers of the tradition with me. And the keepers of the traditions in our school are the old boys, in particular the men who like me, were lucky enough to attend this school as pupils.
So, this morning I met with them and we agreed, we are going to, as old boys' of this school make a stand for the real traditions of our school. It starts by taking this rock back, to it meaning nothing other than a connection to our school, to the idea that if you chose to sit on it (which is fine, it is concrete), then you are doing so because it is a good place to sit. Nothing more, nothing less.
To the outside world, this might seem token, or little or trite, but to those who have and do and will attend this school; trust me it will be a good start.
Have a great weekend.