Chris Francis a teacher at a secondary school in my home town of Bournemouth, recently got in touch asking if I’d be up for doing a talk for his sixth form students. Chris and I grew up together, toured a few Greek islands and he remains a great friend. I couldn’t say no.
He asked me to share a little bit about
- my educational route as a scientist
- my journey into working in elite sport
- some advice, as I see it, to help his students cope with the challenge of the pandemic, lockdown and the uncertainty that surrounds us.
In so doing asking me what message would I share with my younger student self.
The first two points, I was comfortable doing. The third? Well I am no expert, none of us are, we have no experience or proven wisdom of how ‘best’ to manage, cope, let alone thrive under these unprecedented and wide ranging challenges. If someone tells you there is a secret to cracking it – they’re leading you on.
So I pondered on what advice to share and reconciled that perhaps in going a little deeper on the first two and exploring some of the ups and downs that I’ve experienced, the wiggly-waggly line of progress, mistakes, learning and adapting that I’ve encountered, and the very same experience that nearly all athletes and coaches face and confront on their journeys – maybe there are a few simple, hardy, perennial ideas that could help.
Teachers, educators, supporters of the next generation – you are guiding pupils through uncharted waters. You do an amazing job that is so often taken for granted. I hope one of the nuggets of learning from this health crisis is a greater appreciation for your commitment and care for educating young people.
I asked Chris for one favour for doing the talk – that it was recorded so that I could share it publicly.
If the talk can be of help to you, your school, your pupils, please use it freely and share with your colleagues.
Video length 18:19
0:00 Introduction to the talk
1:00 My background
3:20 Examples from high performance sport
4:50 Working in elite sports science
8:50 My educational journey (health warning – I cheated in an exam)
13:00 Tips for you to cope and thrive while things are challenging and a bit crazy