Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Over the holidays I read a book entitled ‘Outliers’ by a man named Malcolm Gladwell. The book looks at
people who succeed in life and the reasons for their success. The main conclusions that he comes to,
and he supports these points with very well reasoned arguments are:
That there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ all success comes from effort. I think myself back to an occasion
while attending a course at the university watching a first year student during lunch time, endlessly doing
chip and chases with a rugby ball by himself, up and down Logan Park. This wasn’t a one off thing, it
happened on a daily bases, so I was told. The only thing that changed were the skills that he practiced.
This young man left university soon after to focus on his sporting career. His name I found out later was
Jeff Wilson. Often over the years as I watched the ‘golden one’ win games for Otago, the Highlanders
and the All Blacks I would hear people say—that guy is a natural. But what Jeff Wilson has was a great
work ethic from a young age.
How does this apply to education? The same way as it applies to life. Anyone who says my formal
practice or my game is over, I have nothing to do until next practice/game will not achieve great things.
Anyone who you talk to who appears to be naturally talented will have developed the requisite skills
through hard work.
Schooling is just the same. The approximately 10-15% of pupils who gain NCEA with excellence work
hard, full stop! A balanced life is of course important and know how far you want to go in life is a very
personal decision. Each year about 700 people enroll in pre-law at Otago University and only 200 make
it. Those 200 will have worked the hardest.
We support our children’s education not by driving them incessantly on but by ensuring we support them
and acknowledge that the learning they do at school is only a part of the learning that they undertake on a
Have a great term