It would be easy to assume that inspiration is something that is given to us, something that comes to us as if by magic when we are least expecting it. However, this is not the way I see it. As American writer, Jack London, wrote, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”.

Last Saturday I delivered my last Visitors Day address at Wellington. These are occasions I always enjoy: the sense of anticipation in the air is palpable; there is a feeling of excitement at what, for many, is the first stage of their Wellington journey; and, for me, there is the extra excitement of having the opportunity to recall familiar anecdotes from throughout my career, safe in the knowledge that I am speaking to a new crowd. My favourite of these stories will be familiar to most of you. It is the story of the boy who walked around school looking unenthusiastic and unmotivated; the boy who was always late.  Seeing him skulking along the corridor one morning, after the bell as usual, I stopped him and challenged him on his poor timekeeping. His response?

“Sir, I know I am always late, but I make up for it by leaving early!”

And, with that, he disappeared, before I had time to process what he had said.

There are two reasons why I like this story, and why I wheel it out unapologetically every time Visitors Day comes along. Firstly, it always gets a laugh. In fact, it has (so far) never failed on that front. But, secondly, and more importantly, it has a great ending, a great message and is a story that has shaped my approach to education.

The boy brought to mind by that story really existed and, as you may well remember, he went on to find his motivation. He went on to be the boy who arrived early and left late; he went on to do well at school and then on to study Engineering at university. Why? He found his inspiration: a teacher had started a kit car club.

Not only does this story show that there is no such thing as a lazy child, only an uninspired one, but it reminds us of the importance of co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities at school, and reminds us to be thankful for the countless members of staff who give so generously of their time to make them happen. A full list of the clubs and enrichment opportunities available at Wellington can be found here.

As Jack London wrote, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”.

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