By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Up early this morning and catching the end of the farming programme, where discussion is all about how to sell food to millennials, who relish the authentic, unlike smug baby boomers like me who have occasional cravings for those sweetly synthetic sausages that on a good day you found in your beanz. Reading yesterday’s paper on the train I finally read an article by George Monbiot on the connection between immersion in a virtual world and the rise of fascism and racism (our greatest peril? Screening ourselves off from the real world). Thinking about the way the natural world impinges on our lives, I read in Country Diary’s account from Wenlock Edge that the origin of our homely word daisy is from the Anglo Saxon daes eage or day’s-eye and that a group of nuthatches is called a gidding. I find delightful links like this as reassuring as crumbling soil between my fingers or hearing our Head of Outdoor Work, Andrew Martin, refer to the birth of his own daughter in the same breath as our sow’s farrowing (“our little piglet has been joined by other little piglets…”). The pungency of the world of real experience surpasses the virtual.
Reassuring too, to think over the cheering encounters of my week; yes, of course, alongside some more quotidian concerns, but reminding me of how lucky I am to be doing what I am.
A Monday evening that finished listening to our senior literary society discussing Paradise Lost under the guidance of Head of English David Anson in his house. For many it was their first encounter with Milton’s magic and insights were strong. Tuesday evening brought a gathering of former students at the Royal College of Surgeons who are making their careers in STEM areas, from those in the higher reaches of academe to recent leavers tussling with Maths degrees or about to start out on their first engineering job. Wednesday brings the two Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) devised Drama performances. Based on the ideas of Space and Time, their exploration of complex and difficult ideas (mental illness, drugs, identity, perspective) is brought across with an impressive grasp both of theatre’s many resources but also of the power of collaboration. Rough magic at work, with brain and heart mining into the soil of experience to powerful effect.
All this is shot through with lots of conversations and other messages about my decision, announced on Monday, that in July 2018, I will pack up this particular kitbag and saunter off to pastures new. Lots of heartening and flattering things, yes. However, premature nostalgia is almost as bad as premature goodbyes, so here’s a resolution: to do my best to avoid the sentimental and any further mention of leaving in these missives in the intervening 17 months. There’s much to do and relish in the interim.