Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

January 2018

Nobles Parents' Newsletter January 2018

"Gaining Perspective" by Dean of Students Mark Spence

Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are close together. In my life, Thanksgiving has been filled with football, family, turkey and stuffing while Christmas contains Caribbean Christmas music, family, friends and multiple Christmas parties. These holidays represent a time for rest and rejuvenation, good food, and the company of good friends and family. The break can also provide opportunities for gaining a greater sense of perspective—seizing the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the events that have occurred (or are transpiring) in our lives and how they are affecting our development.

These holidays fall during a peculiar place on the academic calendar. Thanksgiving break offers a brief respite during which students can take a breath. Once they return, however, they embark on a period that is quite busy and intense:

  • Final projects are due;
  • End-of-term assessments loom;
  • Choral and instrumental concerts are performed;
  • Tryouts and auditions for afternoon program commence;
  • Many tournament games are played;
  • And, for students in Class I, early decision results come in and new applications are prepared.

The month of December at Nobles is one of the busiest of the year. While the outcomes from these weeks are not insignificant, the sense of them being manifestly important can become overwhelming. Whether the outcomes are grades or college results, they have some impact on one’s future. It’s easy for students to feel as though their futures hinge on one result, but it’s important to remind them that there is a much wider scope that tells a more complete story than the results of these three short weeks.

Students can attach their self-identity to the results that they receive, not only within this time frame but throughout their lives. The understanding that they are worth more than the results that they receive is valuable to their still-developing sense of self, and their outlook on what matters. As they attempt to overcome the obstacles and challenges before them, we need to help them understand that their results on individual tests matter much less than the lessons that they draw from them. In fact, how one moves forward from setbacks is a better predictor of success. Life will present many challenges—learning to roll with the punches, to learn from mistakes, and to draw strength from the experience are keys to healthy development.

Gaining perspective is really about organizing the events and experiences of one’s life. It allows one to understand which issues are important and which are not. Gaining perspective doesn’t fix problems, make them go away or decrease their importance. It allows one to face the issue and deal with it with a level head. Perspective can help one prioritize what’s really important: character, community, family/friends, integrity, serving others and honor, to name a few.

Break is a time for rest and reflection. It's an opportunity for students to seek out the big picture, to separate from school and its requirements and challenges, and to learn and grow from what has transpired. I wish you a happy New Year and best wishes for 2018.

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