It is important to regularly offer students a screen free day – as we know that learning online presents different kinds of demands to face-to-face learning, and simple things like eye strain and staying seated in one room indoors mean that a break in this routine can benefit everyone.
For the upcoming screen-free day at Berwick Grammar school, we have encouraged boys to do something that inspires them.
The themes offer us chance to think about a number of concepts that may help us during a time of crisis.
Doing something that inspires them actually strongly connects to the reason why our wellbeing theme at Berwick Grammar this term is Purpose. Purpose gives us a strong sense of meaning and direction, which can often be really important when managing difficult times. It helps us see the bigger picture and not just how it impacts us personally. Connecting with our own individual purpose for being can also be incredibly empowering and help us feel like we are making a difference.
One thing a student may choose to do to connect to their purpose, is commit to something that contributes to a recent goal – something that improves us as people. Many of us have set fitness goals in lockdown, and a good chunk of time like this might present time for a special indoor workout for example – or an outdoor one at the best time of day. It might also be a good chance to practice a skill you are trying to develop – try your hand at baking a more complex dish, at practicing a new artistic or crafty technique, a new golf swing or movie-making style. You could use the time to pick up a new habit – start journaling like I mentioned in my article about Morning Routines. You might try expanding your mind – always a way to better yourself – by reading a book. For my Screen Free Day, I have assured students I will start tackling the War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book which is all about conquering the reasons you give yourself for not meeting your creative goals. As someone who has always wanted to be a writer, this book could help me unlock some negative thinking that helps me move closer towards a life-long goal.
You could also read about a person who you feel is inspiration – one boy for example has suggested reading Crossroad, the autobiography of Victoria Cross recipient Mark Donaldson – whose story involves overcoming many many odds to become the man who saved so many lives that he was awarded this amazing honour. As an aspiring serviceman, for this young man this book is the perfect choice – and you too might be inspired by any number of figures who have similar stories we can read about and be inspired by: Elon Musk, Nelson Mandela, Barack or Michelle Obama, Neale Daniher, Julia Baird, Cathy Freeman… there are so many biographies out there that could inspire you.
You may also – like me – engage with something that ponders the nature of an element of life itself rather than a person, such as Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way or one of Tim Ferriss’ many instructive tomes about life hacking that I have been discussing in assemblies.
You could also expose yourself to a work on fiction that deals with something important or topical – such as Tara June Winch’s The Yield, which won the Miles Franklin award this year or Yoko Ogawa’s International Man Booker Prize Winning The Memory Police.
Beyond personal improvement, the day might also present the opportunity to devote some time to others. You could do a random act of kindness for your family, or contribute to a cause that is important to you. In a recent assembly we were all told about the importance of knowing CPR – you could begin learning this, or you could start a letter-writing campaign about a topical issue. You could consider a way to promote to raise money for an important charity or cause. You also might just simply check in with friends and family – very timely with RU OK Day approaching.
This is a day and a theme that can take us beyond the rooms of our home or the streets of our local neighbourhood – reminding us of things beyond ourselves, and a version of ourselves beyond this lockdown. And aren’t these great things to be reminded of?