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Rigorous Pursuit


"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." 

Anything of value is rarely acquired without its “rigorous pursuit.”  Even though we may wish for chance or luck to bring us what we desire, it almost never happens that way. Something of value must first be recognized and identified, its acquisition planned for and pursued. This pursuit cannot be haphazard and tangential; rather it must be focused and deliberate.  In responding to a reporter who asked how it felt to have failed 2000 times before successfully inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously replied, “I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2000-step process.” 

This journey to successful achievement is rarely easy; it is often fraught with frustration and confusion.  Unhappiness can often muddy the road forward, slowing down our progress, trying our patience, and testing our will.  These inevitable setbacks must not deter us; they must become the lessons of our curricula—the teachings gleaned from our experiences.  “The will,” Muhammed Ali told us, “must be stronger than the skill.”  Learning to work through and overcome hardship or struggle is synonymous with rigorous pursuit and what follows this, is the sine qua non of true learning.

In its opening sentence, our school’s mission identifies “rigorous academic pursuit” not only as a value to be cherished, but a behavior to be learned.  The “rigor” we refer to focuses not on strictness and severity, but rather on deliberate, thoughtful, and persistent pursuit. Whether it’s light bulbs, boxing crowns or academic achievement, successfully acquiring what we desire or value depends upon how rigorously we pursue it. This year’s calendar takes this notion from our school’s mission and explores its myriad application to the boys’ experience at Saint David’s School.  As T.S. Eliot reminds us in this letter’s opening quote, it is precisely because of this purposeful pursuit that deeper learning occurs.

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