It’s that conker time of year and a good moment to confess: I have a bit of an odd relationship with conkers. You see, they don’t really make sense to me. Quite exquisite with their signature shiny richly-coloured protective coat, and yet lying there, in all their glory, on the ground… it’s so inevitable and only a matter of time before they’re ruined, squashed, pecked at, dirty and certainly never as shiny as when they first drop.
Last night I heard Dick Moore speak. I’ve watched his TedTalk on youtube of course, but it was the first time I’d been a member of his live audience. For those of you who don’t know, Dick was an English teacher, rugby coach, headmaster and housemaster. So that’s a whole career spent looking after, caring for and teaching children.
6 years ago, Barney, his third of four sons, took his own life.
Moore explained to us just how angry he had felt with himself, how he immediately took a mental health first aid course and joined the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, where he is now their lead trainer.
So, out of this hideous tragedy, he has re-emerged with a powerful purpose: to talk to young people, their parents and their teachers about mental health. To teach all of us about the important of resilience ( because this really is something we can learn and it will stand us in better stead than algebra). It’s those warning signs, a deeper understanding and a guide as to how we can try our best to steer our emotions that might be missing from most of our children’s education.
I hung on his every word. Not only is his advice invaluable, it’s genuine, heartfelt and delivered with the type of humour of that favourite teacher. Personally, I’m particularly interested in how best to parent children in this what is an increasingly pressurised world. Spoon feeding them, over-protecting them and moving those obstacles slightly to the left isn’t going to help them at all. But it’s hard when they’re shiny, new, exposed… a bit like those conkers lying on the ground…
Take a moment to hear Dick’s words. Forward them to your head teacher. Invite him and his experience (which he so rightly states he’s now turned into a positive) into your world. Because this ‘fundamental change in attitude’ he talks about needs to happen right now.