A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one
One of the great joys of a summer holiday is the opportunity it provides to read. Reading during the rest of the year usually comprises weighty tomes, such as the latest schools’ regulations, or just about managing half a page of something more lightweight before falling asleep exhausted at the end of a 14 hour day.
This summer I read:
‘Homo Deus’ by Yuval Noah Harari. What a read! Harari has a PHD from Oxford and is a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: he specialises in world history. His contention is that a world shaped by fallible humans will rapidly be superseded by automatons and that our lives will be dominated by a super-rich elite with the wherewithal to develop god-like mastery, particularly in extending the span of their lives and shaping the future direction of human evolution. It is a very thought provoking read and prompts significant questions to answer for educationalists who tend to view the world through a very narrow field of vision.
‘Open’ by David Price O.B.E. Price is a futurist who I heard speak at an educational conference at Cranleigh School last year. His view of the future is slightly less dystopian than Harari’s; in fact, he encourages his reader positively to embrace technology as a means to improve humanity’s quality of life.
‘India’ by John Keay. This epic tome charts the history of this emerging super-power from 3000 B.C. to the present day. Having myself enjoyed history since my Prep School Head inspired me to love the subject, and having studied mostly British history in my time at Cambridge, it was very interesting to study the provenance of such a fascinating country.
‘Labrador’ by Ben Fogle. Well…the Headmaster does have a Labrador and Ben Fogle was our Speech Day speaker. I now am an authority on the world’s most popular pedigree dog!
‘Out of the Silence’ by Terry Waite. Another of last year’s speakers at BPS whose book I dipped into. I enjoyed having a glimpse into the writing inspired by his traumatic hostage experience.
‘Nights at the Circus’ by Angela Carter. This is the next book to be discussed at the recently formed BPS teachers’ book group.
Beyond providing downtime for the Headmaster’s brain, my summer reading has inspired me to consider the implications for curriculum development at BPS so that it aligns more closely to preparing BPS boys for their future lives. It has also enabled me to return refreshed and energised ready to lead the school in its 99th year of existence. As part of our outward looking centenary year, a national conference, open to all within our community, will take place at the school, which will focus on what experts are saying about the future of the world Bickley boys will enter. Some top quality speakers will lead the conference.
I hope you enjoy reading this year’s blogs, be they the Headmaster’s, the Head Boy’s or the Deputy Head Boys’.
P.S.: This month, 75 years ago, ex BPS teacher, Enid Blyton, published her first Famous Five book: ‘Five on a Treasure Island’.