Headmasters Blog

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'Bonding father, brother, son
The baton passes on...'

These words always resonate with me whenever I hear our boys sing our school song with gravitas and pride. Being a father myself I know the bond between a boy and his father is an amazing relationship and at Scotch we focus on fostering this relationship as our young boys turn into men. That moment when you look at your boy and realise he has become a man is bittersweet, as your young boy is gone forever but a man is born.

Seeing the relationships the boys at Scotch have with their fathers (some of whom are Old Scotch Collegians) is one of the unique and wonderful elements of the College. The connection past students have to the school as well as their family and friends who attended or still attend the College creates a community which is supportive and proud. To that same token, it is wonderful to welcome new fathers and families into the community from all over Australia and the world who have chosen Scotch as the place to prepare their son for life.

Being a father is about doing what is necessary to guide your boy through his own life journey. While at Scotch we do everything we can to prepare boys for life, it is largely an educational collaboration between the school and the parents. I just want to take this time to reach out to all the fathers and mothers in the Scotch community and thank you for everything you have done to contribute to this educational collaboration. Being a parent is never easy but it is incredibly rewarding and this is reiterated by the looks on the faces of mothers and fathers when they see their son (s) avail themselves of all of the opportunities Scotch provides day in and day out.

Quite often when I'm thinking of fatherhood and the bond between father and son I think of the lyrics from, coincidentally, 'Father and Son' by Cat Stevens. This verse, to me, encapsulates how we as fathers must draw on our own experience to guide our boys forward.

'I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not'

At school boys go through many stages, they experience delight, misery, joy, despair, love, heartbreak and, at certain ages, they experience all these in one weekend. This verse just encapsulates the idea that we need to empathise with our boys, listen to them, encourage them to be calm and approach problems head on. We need to remind them of how fortunate they are and reinforce the idea that they should not take it for granted. We need great leaders in the future and this is where they start, we just need to give them the tools to realise who they can become.

Songwriter, Eric Bogle, in his song 'Scraps of Paper' which deals with the loss of a father, provides a more pointed message as to why it is so important to take the opportunity to form relationships with your son while the opportunity is right in front of you.

He and I were always strangers, searching for someone
I was looking for a hero, and he a friend
So while I searched for my father, he was looking for his son
And strangers we remained until the end
But the man who wrote his heart into those rhymes
I know he could have been a good friend of mine

This weekend we are holding an event that really makes an effort to foster this relationship between father and son, the Year 11 Fathers' Sleepover. This event helps the current fathers get to know each other and bond over what it means to be a father at Scotch College. So I encourage all parents to get involved in these types of events because they really contribute to the wonderful sense of family and community at the College.

Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.


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