Speaking At City Hall
Telling future headteachers to promote failure and individualism was controversial. I had a voice. I used it. And I’d do it again. Speaking at City Hall.
‘If you think about school like an archaic video game, there were two ways to finish the game. One way is to complete all the levels and keep going up and one way is to destroy the games console. So, if you think about a student going through school, they either destroy the games console i.e. get kicked out of school or they finish school. For me, I think it should be a bit more dynamic than that.’
Failure and individualism.
Two aspects of adult life that we all wish we had more experience feeling before it happens.
Failure can destroy our lives. Our self-confidence. Our visions.
Individualism can lead to bullying. It can make you feel demoralised and oddly-unique. In a way that isn’t nourished, but is ignored.
My secondary schooling taught me resilience, and I grew up fast.
Through the failure of becoming popular and my constant outspoken attitude — I rebranded, reinvented in time for university.
The rest is history.
I wasn’t worthy of speaking at City Hall today.
I was able but not worthy.
The reason I got to speak and slip by any checks and balances was that I made this opportunity.
I created it.
Remember this blog?
[insert link here]
This is when I met my former Primary school teacher and explained how my life evolved since I left the school.
Last month, after not hearing from him for some time, I received an email to speak on a panel about qualities that schools should promote.
I accepted because I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Not because I thought I was the right person.
Quite like a lot of things in my life; I go with the flow and give it my all.
Rob asked me one question:
‘How can schools best help prepare pupils to become the best possible version of themselves? ‘
I knew what I wanted to talk about at this event before I even knew the question.
The question aligned with my thoughts.
Two things I wished I knew would be:
- How to deal with failure and rejection, both personally and professionally?
- Is it wrong to want to by myself? Do I have to be like everyone else?
The culture is school seems restrictive and unimaginative from someone being educated.
It seems one-track and only one destination.
There is no way to evolve and grow by failure rather than grow by success.
The real world has a notorious image for chewing up and spitting out those who don’t adapt.
But, isn’t that what school is for?
To help people adapt to what is changing and help them overcome barriers set by authorities trying to impose a Darwinian approach.
I referred to school like a video game where there were no cheat codes.
You had to either destroy the console or methodically finish the game.
For me, it makes it difficult, to be honest with kids and show them that sometimes ‘everyone won’t be alright’ and that you’ll have to deal with it.
That sense of urgency can really drive change.
It can genuinely ignite a determination within someone.
The second part about being yourself.
Social media makes people look the same and segregates the ‘accepted’ from the ‘outcast’.
That’s damaging to self-esteem and individualism.
I recommended to hone a passion, find the twinkle in someone’s eye and live up to a teacher’s true social responsibility.
There aren’t too many opportunities where you get to go full circle and tell teachers and aspiring headteachers what you think of the education system.
I took my opportunity.
I used analogies.
I was myself.
I was honest and transparent.
I made it relatable and actionable.
I hope these headteachers learnt something because I used my voice in the safe environment at a globally-recognised stage.
I met some incredible individuals doing great work in their schools.
These leaders will leave from that conference room knowing how to lead.
The event was thought-provoking, and I hope I gave them all something to think about.
I love education. I didn’t like secondary school much, but I have a story to share.
I may deliver the same message I did at individual schools, there were some details exchanged, and I hope I can follow up on those interests.
I look forward to the Geography Society’s work with schools next year.
I look forward to a lot of things.
This is all part of that process.
Creating opportunities, being patient and growing with being outside my comfort zone.
Today, I spoke to approximately 40 people of authority about school and how failure and individualism are the keys to a person’s success and being their best version of themselves.
I would do it again.
Speaking at City Hall.