Story Time

Well we are a week into a brand new term. Two weeks into a brand new year. Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Have you broken it yet? Thought so.

You know what I say to New Year’s resolutions? I say pfft and here’s why.

Now is that time when we are all supposed to be reflective, pensively examining the last twelve months and deciding what kind of a year it was. Well what kind of a year was it? If you believe the media, the answer is a truly awful one. And when you look at the evidence, it is pretty hard to disagree with that diagnosis, on a public level at least. From Bowie to Brexit, via a disturbing cul de sac filled with killer clowns, it’s hard to argue against the wall to wall upset, instability and loss that we endured in 2016.

In education too, it’s been a tough shift. We are getting our heads around challenge questions, benchmarks, attainment data. We are grappling with workload and planning and half the time we don’t know if we should be unpacking or bundling. Teachers’ mental health is dropping, job vacancies are increasing. It’s a tough old time to be a teacher.

But can we really say that’s a fair picture? There were some good bits, right? It wasn’t all horrendous, was it? We learned things, experienced things, tried things, thought about things, made things. We did a fair bit of finding out.

And that’s actually all we’ve ever got- finding out. Because the year is not a story, it does not have a narrative. You can’t just connect all the black dots and call it a bad year any more than you can connect all the golden dots and call it a good one.

Things just happen.

We make a story out of it all because that’s what humans do. We tell ourselves stories to make the world make sense.

So be careful that your stories don’t give you nightmares. Yeah, some stuff is pretty bad, but what’s been good? What good did you do this year? This month? This week? Today? Did you look after yourself? No? Why not? What are you going to do about that? The problem with seeing things as all being connected is that it takes away your power to try something new. If you believe the story’s already mostly written, why would you try to change the ending?

So don’t tell yourself stories; don’t whisper in your own ear. Don’t tell yourself 2017 is the year you’ll write your novel or lose 2 stone or climb Everest or move house or finally clear out the hall cupboard. Just let it all be what it is and be glad of it.

Do your best.

Be kind.

Make things.

Know when to stop.

Remember it is all just finding out. It is all just life, so don‘t take any of it too seriously. We are the lucky ones because we are here, thinking and planning and wondering and dreaming, our hearts pumping hopefully as we enjoy the sheer luxury of getting to decide what’s next.

Don’t tell yourself stories.

Remember the only person who will be crushed if your story doesn’t go the way you planned it is you- no one else cares- they are too busy screwing up stories of their own. So don’t be a constant source of disappointment to yourself.

You are here and you are you and that is quite enough.


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