Author Archives: Jade Stroud-Watts

In a wonderful TED talk on the ’Transformative Power of Classical Music’, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Benjamin Zander, confesses that at the age of 45, after twenty years of conducting orchestras, he had a revelation. He realized that the conductor of an orchestra is the only person on stage who does not make a sound. The conductor’s entire power lay in his or her ability to make other people powerful. He recognised that his job was to ‘awaken possibility in other people.’ In many ways, his revelation applies equally to Headmasters. Despite Winston Churchill’s lament that ‘Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested,’ the reality is somewhat more prosaic. Headmasters are often ‘behind the scenes’ in a school. The bulk of the work that takes place in classrooms is done by teachers, not headmasters. Most of our time is taken up with administration and unending meetings - meetings with teachers, with parents, with students, with architects, with local council officers, planners, neighbours, educational theorists, people who want you to buy something or convince you about something. Our role really, is to provide the structures and support to enable others to become powerful. Our teachers in turn, carry out that role with their students.
When a passer-by reportedly once asked Michelangelo what he was doing, as he saw him hammering away with a chisel at a large block of marble, the artist is famously said to have responded: ‘I am freeing the angel which is trapped inside this stone’. Sometimes it seems that our work is also one of freeing the angels trapped inside young boys! One of the aims of education to give each student the skills and confidence to discover his true essence and to be able to articulate what he really thinks. By giving students wide and varied experiences, by pushing them a little beyond their ‘comfort zone’, we hope to expand their vision, and help them to find passion and joy and develop their character. We also hope to give them the knowledge and intellectual rigour to be able to make sense of the world and to find their place in it. We hope to be able to teach them to think and to feel and to engage fully in the world, to release their inner angel.