The Courage of a Mountaineer
Lessons from CAIS Heads Institute
July 6th, 2014
This past week, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to sit down with a dozen Headmasters from across Canada, Dr. Robert Evans and Dr. Michael Thompson.
As one might expect, these meetings are inevitably filled with insights, big ideas and worldly viewpoints. In spite of the vast amount of information that is shared, whenever I am away at any type of session like this, I’m always asking myself the question:
How will this session improve the experience for our students at Rundle College?
In the nearly 30 hours of conversation, there were quite literally hundreds of take-away learnings. Of the most impactful and pertinent was a conversation around courage. Even though much of the conversation revolved around courage in school leadership, there is much that can and should be transferred to our student’s experiences in growing and learning.
The five domains of courage as described by Dr. Michael Thompson are:
Courage of the Mother - the kind compassionate courage we all feel when we are in the care of another. The acts of strength that come when you love something so deeply that you cannot imagine a life without it.
Courage of the Mountaineer - the courage to undertake the long, arduous journey.
Courage of a Comedian - the courage to put yourself out there and be prepared for your ‘set to flop.’ When your set does flop, it’s the ability to have the strength to continue on.
Deliberative Courage - the courage to make a tough decision when it is necessary.
Courage in the Face of Pain - the courage that is required to overcome moments where you or others are suffering or in pain.
Each of the five domains are easily explored in the context of an excellent K-12 education. Our teachers, students and families encounter and overcome multiple situations during these years that require us to leverage each domain. However, for obvious reasons, I think it is appropriate to focus on the second principle, “Courage of the ‘Rundle’ Mountaineer.”
The Rundle community prides itself on supporting students in their pursuit of becoming a renaissance learner and an ethical citizen of the world. These lofty goals are never attained without first, a long journey that is fraught with peril and punctuated with celebration. We could easily surmise that this journey is much like ascending a mountain. At Rundle we hope that our students experience the occasional non-catastrophic failure, understand that there is a team of educational and emotional sherpas that will steward them through the challenge and ultimately through these experiences and this tutelage they will develop the ‘Courage of a Mountaineer.’
As a community we will all be stronger together if we remind ourselves that life is a long and gratifying climb not a downhill sprint. Collectively we need stamina, we need to remain patient, in the difficult moments we need to remember to be kind and more than anything we we need to develop courage if we are going to summit each mountain we face.