Last weekend being a Bank Holiday weekend, I took the opportunity of visiting Kew Gardens. The occasion coincided with two happy events: International Dawn Chorus Day and the re-opening of the Temperate House at Kew Gardens.
As I was strolling along Rhododendron walk in Kew, admiring the exquisite blossoms on bushes in full bloom and listening to the thrushes in full-throated song, I felt sorry that I was having such a wonderful morning while my Year 11 pupils were busy revising for their GCSE examinations. Brushing away feelings of guilt, I began to think about what Google employees are encouraged to do while at work: to take a break from work and make time for wonder.
It is precisely at times of heightened stress that we need to take time out to stop, to listen, to observe and to wonder. Our minds need feeding in order for our brains to function. Research shows that exposure to a natural envirnment helps people increase their stress-reduction, boost the immune system and enhance moods.
So my advice to both staff and pupils who are living through challenging moments such as preparing for exams or writing reports, is to plan time outside so that our minds can wonder and take in beauty. At The Mount, Mill Hill International we will be following the advice of Alfred Noyes to “Go down to Kew in lilac time” when we take our pupils to Kew Gardens after Half Term.