Previously in our dean’s assemblies I’ve given you some pretty heavy messages. We’ve talked about decisions, consequences, opportunities, bullying. Today I want to lighten things up a little and talk about growing up.
I was thinking about you guys and what growing up means for you. You are living in an interesting world at the moment. It’s a changing world and it’s a scary world. There’s a lot of pressure on your generation. As I was looking around the Internet having googled ‘growing up’ there are endless articles with headlines like:
- ‘They really are growing up fast: Pressures of modern world are eroding childhood’
- ‘Girls feel pressure to grow up too fast, study says’
- ‘Modern childhood ends at 12’
And then on the other hand you’ve got Avril Lavigne singing Radiohead at the top of her lungs with the boom box blaring while she’s falling in love and telling you ‘here’s to never growing up.’ You’ve also got role models that became famous while they were young teens, like Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan, who are doing really stupid, immature and childish things.
There’s a real tension between these two things and it makes teenagers like you sometimes behave in really interesting ways. There’s no one that’s really immune from that, and we’ve all reacted or made decisions because of societal pressures in some way.
When I was growing up I felt like the world was tearing me in two and some of you might be able to relate to this feeling. I had on the one hand everyone telling me about the scary world that was coming and how I had to get ready for it and kept talking about University and what I was going to do after that as if it was only a week away. But on the other hand, I was just a kid and I wanted to experience that.
And there’s something very special about being young. It’s the joy of being able to be truly creative because there are parts of the world that you don’t know about yet.
Children have natural powers of creativity. Kids have the power to be imaginative and creative in a way that adults simply can’t be. And there’s lots of scientific reasons for this. Developmental psychologists have words with 64 letters in them to explain it. There is nothing like being young and having so much potential and possibilities ahead of you.
I want to show you Caine’s story. I want to show you this because it captures why it’s special to be young. I think Caine is special because this is a boy who doesn’t live in a world created by computers or video games, he is simply a kid with ideas that are bigger than anything that technology can offer him. I consider him a true champion.
Caine for me is a champion of imagination, creativity and entrepreneurship. And he also shows us why it is important to experience being a child, why it is not just a pit stop on the way to adulthood, it’s a special thing in itself.
You are the youngest and most inexperienced year group at Newlands College. But the way I prefer to look at it is that you are the year group with the most potential. Your youth is is asset. The imagination, the purity of thought and the creativity you have is amongst your best features.
You’re only young once. I’m sure it’s annoying to hear that but my plea today is to not take that for granted. You’ve got five years of Newlands College ahead of you and it is not a race. Enjoy it.
Bonus video – “Caine’s Arcade 2: From a Movie to a Movement” – this was not played in assembly, but it tells the story of what happened after the events of the first film.