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The Path to Wisdom

Accepting Imperfection and Engaging in Self-Reflection.

The five Wenona Values are Courage, Strength, Grace, Wisdom and Kindness. As part of an ongoing exploration of what it means to enact these qualities, Deputy Principal (Student Wellbeing), Ms Beth Oakley, discussed the importance of wisdom in a recent Assembly. Her particular focus was the benefit of pausing to reflect before making a decision. "Perhaps wisdom is often associated with intelligence or academia ... but it is more about an attitude and approach to life that points us to self-knowledge," she said.

"The ancient Greek phrase ‘know thyself’ is still relevant today ... it is an ongoing process, requiring courage and self-discipline to engage in genuine self-reflection. Wisdom is gained over time, with patience and an increasing willingness to embrace vulnerability."


Ms Oakley challenged students to turn the School's Values into actions by asking themselves questions such as: What part did I contribute to this situation? What impact did my thoughts, words, and actions have on others? What can I do differently next time? "By being brutally honest with ourselves, we can own our shortcomings and imperfections, becoming stronger, better, and wiser as a result," she said.

"This idea aligns with the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which Dr Scott spoke about in an Assembly several years ago. It focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and peacefully accepting the natural cycle. When we find ‘cracks’ and shortcomings in ourselves, it is essential to view them as opportunities for growth and strength, rather than sources of negativity."

Ms Oakley acknowledged that engaging in such self-reflection is easier said than done. "When we recognise our own ‘cracks’, we can easily feel inclined to believe the negative inner narrative that chatters away in our heads! Each one of us in this room is a puzzle of messy broken bits and pieces. But we are also a collection of mended seams, and stronger because of this. We are all an ongoing work of art being moulded and shaped by the things of life – the people and circumstances that are beyond our control," she said.

"What we do have control over is how we choose to respond to these experiences. According to famous author, Victor Frankl, there is a space between stimulus and response. That space is the pause we need to take to consider the impact of our words and actions before we speak, press send, or post! We each have a choice. If we react without wisdom, we can fall into behaviours, language, and ways of doing things by default.”

“This leads me to the concept of an examined life. Proposed by the ancient philosopher Socrates, it says that wisdom is formed not only by being curious about life but also by examining our own lives. By having the courage to tend to the ‘cracks’ in ourselves, we can grow stronger, more beautiful, and wiser.”