I know that many of you have read that and then said ‘find out what it means to me…!' Hopefully some of you have broken into song and dance too. Aretha Franklin’s extraordinary sound bellowed out on many songs but this is perhaps her most famous two and a half minutes. There are hundreds of songs with the word ‘respect’ in the title – go on, can you name a few more…?
Knowledge of popular music is usually gained in a misspent youth. The origins of our knowledge and understanding of ‘respect’ is something that is a little harder to explain. Did we learn it from our parents? Our siblings? Our teachers? Perhaps we learned it on the sports fields or as we were inspired by some act of genius or charity. Respect comes in many forms of course. You must learn to ‘respect yourself’ (a 1971 hit for The Staple Sisters) and of course we must ‘give a little respect’ too (Erasure, 1988). As parents and teachers we try to instill respect in young people and we tread the difficult path of encouraging our charges to respect others whilst also understanding that respect should be earned, not simply granted unthinkingly. It is a challenging task.
Respect, Kindness and Honesty are our schools core values and the first of those is respect. There are so many ways in which we can talk about respect with our students in these strange times. Whether it is the respect earned through wise decision-making by world leaders, respect earned through the intellectual ingenuity of those who create new medicines, respect earned through hard work by those in the health care sector or the respect that we must show each other and our community by our own diligence – washing our hands, wearing a mask, making sensible social choices – opportunities to give and earn respect have never been greater.
As we approach the return of our students to school on the 21st we hope that everyone in our community will make respectful decisions in the coming days so that our students can rejoin their friends and teachers in the classroom – it is in our hands.