During the “COVID season of our discontent”, it has seemed like many of us have somehow been locked in a tiring cycle of isolation, lack of traction, and uncertainty about almost everything. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with our families. But, in most cases, seldom with our neighbours and extended circles of friends. Many of us may have even have entered a semi-permanent state of hibernation!
How did we all fare? Did we “hope” ourselves through it? Did we languish in trepidation? Did our motivation, creativity, and productivity take a hit? Were we able to make the best use of our time under the circumstances? And how about our children? What was their experience?
According to Finnish children’s author, Tove Jansson, if people aren’t careful, there is a risk that they may “waste an awful lot of time”. When it comes to hibernation, she also reminds us not to worry. She says, “We shall have wonderful dreams, and when we wake up it will be spring!” What an encouraging thought after such a long time of starts, stops, and stalls!
As life at Matthews Hall begins to emerge from our “pandemic hibernation”, we really need to remember to spot the signs of life around us. Just like the animals that hibernate, making it to spring is no small feat. Hibernating bears, for example, experience torpor – a state of reduced bodily activity – which is actually not restful. By the time bears emerge, they are sleep-deprived and most have expended huge amounts of energy to ensure that their body temperatures didn’t dip too low. This back-and-forth (…think of the pivots from online to in-person learning and all the changing restrictions!) is exhausting for animals, and hibernators do it with little to no food and water. By winter’s end, some may have shed more than half their body weight!
What might this experience look like in a community of stressed students, teachers, and parents?
It may mean that, for some, getting back into that comfortable state of equilibrium and full engagement is a bit more challenging. After all, hibernation takes a toll and energy reserves must be re-built! In the animal kingdom, the arrival of spring doesn’t mean it’s only time to celebrate and party. Spring also means getting ready for the full speed of what comes next after a season in slow motion. That requires some ramping up.
As our spring gets rolling with sports, the promise of annual year-end activities, and plans for the future, we recognize that everyone will let go of the edge of the pool at different times. That’s OK because if everyone races for the ball in the middle of the deep end at the same time, there will be havoc!
The spring of 2022 is shaping up to be important for Matthews Hall: our new Early Primary Learning Centre (EPLC) is progressing well and will be a space of pride and purpose for years to come; our School will soon launch our next broad-based consultation of stakeholders to set the strategy and course for the experience that will be enjoyed by the next generation of Matthews Hall children; and – with your commitment, partnership, and loyalty – we will work hard to prioritize the formation of young people of character and confidence from kids that we know can make a difference.
With optimism and energy, a lot can be achieved after a long winter’s rest.
It’s time to turn this state of COVID suspended animation into a different kind of wave!
Ric Anderson, Head of School