News & Events

One column layout

Head Boy's Blog 5th May 2017

    08 May 2017

Head Boy’s Blog

5th May 2017

This was the third week I was in breakfast with our Head Master, Mr Fisher, and Head of Sixth Form, Miss Monsauret.  As expected, Mr Fisher ignored his coffee and croissant and launched into this week's school theme: leading through innovation. And, as always expected, he wanted my opinion. No rest. And as always expected, Miss Monsauret offered her support, some quality questions and provocative remarks.  But what did I say? Here goes . . .

“Innovation is the driving force of the modern economy; we always want things to be new, bigger and better than before. How, though, can one be innovative, especially in a world where we are one of many billions, and it seems like all the ideas are already taken? It takes courage.  It also takes creativity. And it takes ingenuity to be truly innovative. Qualities that you develop.

I've always had quite a synoptic mind; I don't tend to see rigid barriers between different fields of study. However, to be truly creative I have had to learn. In Year 7 and Year 9, I was able to go on creative writing courses with the Arvon Foundation. These trips were great, and even though I don't write many stories anymore, the open- minded thinking  I learnt from them has stuck with me. These courses taught me to capture any stray thoughts I had, and to write them down for later. I find myself today looking back at some of my old notes and finding bizarre ideas that pique my curiosity. This links to an important aspect of innovation: inspiration, and finding it in novel places.

Novel places. A classic example of this is in the invention of Velcro, created to mimic the structure of a burr. George de Mestral had his eyes open to the goings on of the world around him, and what he saw inspired him to synthesise nature with modern technology.

The power of an open mind is amplified if you have the ability to make connections. Many scientific theories are linked to quite mundane objects, the lock and key model of enzyme activity and string theory being excellent examples. Without the ability to see similarities between things that seemed unrelated, these theories may never have developed. Another big part of innovation is having a mind trained to spot oddities – anomalies.

Many of humanity's biggest discoveries have been serendipitous spotting of anomalies, that is, chance discoveries of things that did not fit in.  The discovery of penicillin is a common example of this. The difference between a lazy microbiology student and Alexander Fleming is that when Fleming saw that the mould growing on his Petri dishes killed bacteria, he knew it was significant. The little things in life can be easily missed (especially if they're only a few nanometers wide!), but they are often the most important.

The other quality which Fleming had was his inquisitiveness. He stopped to question why the mould could kill the bacteria, just as Darwin questioned why the finches of his namesake seemed so well adapted to their environments.

We are lucky at Sherfield, as we are graced with teachers who will answer some of our more divergent questions, and I know that many of our students have that inquisitive spark that can make them great. This leads on to my final point on innovation: experience is a must. The people who made the developments I have mentioned were not just brilliant; they had the experiences needed to make best use of their brilliance. If you haven't got a wide range of experiences, practical or otherwise, then you may not be able to spot the links between things, or be able to do anything about it once you have. I always remember an episode of the Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon works in The Cheesecake Factory to free up his mind for new ideas. His sudden burst of inspiration came from a plate of food he dropped on the floor, where the bits of broken plate made him change a model he was working on so that the electrons behaved as waves. A completely fictitious creation, but I think it hits the nail on the head when it comes to being innovative.

As for leading through innovation, I think it is fairly clear that the U.K. is where it is today because we led the industrial revolution through innovation. And this influenced the world. And the global economy has feedback some great innovations, ignited by “a spark in one corner of Europe.”

The Head Master, Head of Sixth Form and I chewed on both these thoughts and our breakfast; and Mr Fisher was elated that this was a good example of zeugma, having impressed me with this word at interview.  And we also agreed on this: “Always aim to be innovative, and don't be afraid to try new things or ask silly questions. You never know, maybe you'll end up being the next Fleming, Darwin or Einstein.”

Thomas Jenkins

Head Boy

Head Prefects' Blog

Head Prefects' Blog

  • Head Boy Blog 12 March 2018

        12 March 2018

    Watching my Dad design intricate machines from a young age ignited my interest in engineering.

  • Head Girls Blog February 2018

        19 February 2018

    On Monday morning before half-term, my tutor group gave an assembly on pursuing excellence. We spoke of our personal achievements and how as individua...

  • Head Girls Blog 26 January 2018

        26 January 2018

    Inspirational people are the people we look upon for encouragement, motivation or guidance. The dictionary definition of inspiration is ‘the process o...

  • Head Boy's Blog 9 November 2017

        13 November 2017

    Happiness. What makes us happy? This is the question I asked myself prior to Mr. Fisher’s assembly on Monday morning and began questioning why we all ...

  • Head Boy’s Blog 9 October 2017

        09 October 2017

    2 October 2017 Miles Bromilow The gift of a shoebox to the people who live in poverty in Eastern Europe brings them great happiness. The simpl...

  • Head Girl Blog 12 September 2017

        19 September 2017

    Friday evening and Saturday morning saw pupils from Year 9 and 12 involved in a Bush Craft survival campout, where it we imagined that the school had ...

  • Head Boy's Blog 5 July 2017

        24 July 2017

    Read Head Boy Miles' speech to the school on Speech Day 2017.

  • Head Girl's Blog 5 July 2017

        24 July 2017

    Read Eleanor Smith's address at Speech Day 2017

  • Ex-Head Boy Blog 5th July 2017

        24 July 2017

    Read Thomas Jenkins' words to the school at Senior Speech Day on 5 July 2017.

  • Head Boy's Blog 25 June 2017

        29 June 2017

    Pursuit of excellence was last week’s theme which seemed apt with Sports day concluding a great week for the school. It was a true delight to see all ...

  • Head Prefect Blog 19 June 2017

        22 June 2017

    In her second blog as Head Girl, Eleanor Smith writes about the importance of community values.

  • Head Prefects' Blog, 1 June 2017

        31 May 2017

    Introducing our newly appointed Head Boy, Miles and Head Girl, Eleanor.

  • Head Boy's Blog 23rd May 2017

        23 May 2017

    This week marks my final week as Head Boy here at Sherfield. It has been an amazing journey getting to this point, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my Sh...

  • Head Boy's Blog 12th May 2017

        16 May 2017

    Everybody makes mistakes in their life, whether it is a wrong number in a maths paper or an offence paid to a loved one in a heated argument. What dif...

  • Head Boy's Blog 5th May 2017

        08 May 2017

    This was the third week I was in breakfast with our Head Master, Mr Fisher, and Head of Sixth Form, Miss Monsauret. As expected, Mr Fisher ignored his...

  • Head Boy's Blog 28th April 2017

        02 May 2017

    Confession time: I can't speak a language! Despite school policy, I've managed to avoid learning a language. Some of you might find this surprising, e...

  • Head Boy's Blog 24th April 2017

        26 April 2017

    Privilege is something that can easily be taken for granted, especially when we are born and raised in a society that would have been unimaginable to ...

Click here to view our news archive
Two column auto layout
Two column layout