Students at Tonbridge Grammar School have been encouraged to strive for ‘A Good Life’ by the renowned philosopher, AC Grayling. Professor Grayling was speaking to hundreds of students and parents at the school’s annual Prize Giving ceremony on Tuesday 15th December.
More than 250 students and former students were recognised for their iGCSE and International Baccalaureate results, as well as other accolades. These included a variety of additional achievements in areas such as community service, sport, music, art and leadership.
Professor Grayling, who is Master of the New College of the Humanities in London, made an inspirational speech which asked the question ‘How should we live?’ He encouraged students to follow ‘A Good Life’ that is worthwhile and that nurtures friendships with those they meet. The Professor, who is a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford, also urged the audience to make their lives considered ones, simply by thinking for themselves.
In an entertaining speech that took in stories from Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and Plutarch, he told students, “As Bertrand Russell said, ‘Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.’” Professor Grayling said that admitting to not knowing something and feeling confused often means that one is on the right track towards working it out.
Head Teacher, Rosemary Joyce, pointed to both academic achievement and the wider activities with which students at TGS are involved. She paid tribute to the hard work of both students and staff which resulted in the school’s outstanding results.
‘Behind the impressive headlines lay many individual and very personal success stories,’ she said. ‘Success in examinations, although very important, reflects only a fraction of our school experience.’
Professor Grayling commended students for their achievements to date and said that their education should encourage clarity, as well as making them critical and sceptical in a constructive way. He advised them to approach the world determined to find ways in which to make the best of things, and to always grasp the opportunities that education provides.
In sharing what he called ‘the meaning of life’, he told the students that the meaning of their lives is what they make of them. He asked each individual to accept the challenge of thinking what would make their life a good one, and therefore a life worth living.