The plank and an unexpected lesson on endurance

by Richard Devey, Head of Senior School at Gordonstoun

I have always loved teaching. Ever since the first day I set foot in a classroom as a trainee teacher in the mid-1980s, the joy of sharing knowledge, developing passions and seeing pennies drop has never left me. However, as with so many as they work their way through their careers, the older I have got and the more senior my role, the less and less I get to stand in front of a class and share my passion. It was therefore with particular excitement that I woke this morning knowing that I was due to deliver my first lesson of the online term; a mixed theory and practical lesson on the topic of muscular endurance.

Now, there are many who might say that 08.45 on a Friday morning is not the ideal time to be doing practical muscular endurance work, but I was ready and raring to go as the online class duly logged in and joined me from all over the world. Perhaps distracted by my enthusiasm, their geographic location hadn’t really crossed my mind prior to the lesson starting, and so, whilst I might have had some trepidation myself about doing press-ups before my breakfast had fully digested, for the student joining me from the USA, for whom it was 03.45 in the morning, I suspect this was at a whole different level! At the same time, their classmate in Hong Kong, for whom the day was coming to an end, was presumably thinking about supper, and the fact that their online day was only just starting late in the afternoon, and would run on well in to the night. And yet (and this is so Gordonstoun) there they all were, in PE kit, ready to go, smile on their face and keen to learn.

And that is the joy of this great place that I am so fortunate to work in. My students, who come from all corners of the globe, mirrored my grunts and groans as we worked our way through a series of exercises designed to promote their body tone and core strength, and not once was their a moan about ‘Why are we doing this Sir?’, or ‘Isn’t it too early Sir?’, they just got on with it, cheerfully and with enthusiasm.

At the end of it we were all slightly out of breath, and as I write this I can feel my stomach muscles telling me that I should wait a while before I do the plank again, and yet I feel good. I got to speak to young people (albeit on a screen), and share my passion for my subject, and perhaps, just perhaps, pass on a bit of knowledge that they might take in to their futures.