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15 May 2020

Head's Message 15 May 2020

Heads Message 15 May 2020

The Japanese Art of Kintsugi – a metaphor for Resilience at The Hampshire School Chelsea

During this time of lockdown, I have found myself reflecting on past interests gained during my fifteen years of living in Asia. Teaching maths in a region of the world renowned for its high standards in the subject was rewarding enough but, in addition, I gained precious knowledge of different cultural traditions which led to an enhanced appreciation of art, including Japanese art. I have to admit that in my house is a collection of Yoshitoshi Mori prints as well as Japanese pottery. It was the pottery that caught my eye when considering a metaphor for resilience in assembly this week.

Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art form, is a method of gluing porcelain pieces together that enhances the aesthetic of the pottery and gives it strength. Kintsugi is thought to originate from the late 15th century when one of the Emperor of Japan’s precious pottery pots required a repair. When it was returned adorned with metal staples, he asked his craftsmen if they could come up with something more aesthetically pleasing. Kintsugi was the result and as it means ‘joined with gold’ - the pot had been glued together with lacquer inflected with gold powder. Of significance, the fractures became visible rather hidden. The golden cracks represent the worth of the bowl because of its imperfections – they are the strength of the pot.

With roots in the Zen philosophy of ‘wabi-sabi’, Kintsugi celebrates imperfection. ‘Wabi’, defined as ‘understated elegance’ and ‘sabi’ translated as ‘appreciating the imperfect’, leads to an appreciation of imperfection. At school, we have discussed the pursuit of perfection hindering growth and development as something that is complete cannot be improved and may set unachievable goals. With our Growth Mindset approach, we accept that challenges and mistakes are vital in our journey of improvement. Like the golden cracks in the pot, we do not hide our mistakes because they pave the way to develop the strength to approach challenges as opportunities.

Kintsugi fits as a metaphor for our Growth Mindset approach at school to developing the resilience through: aiming high, embracing challenge, persevering with complex problems, and pursuing improvement as a community in everything we do. For our pupils we see that this approach leads to their increased sense of self-worth and independence, the development of skills required to problem-solve, strong empathy and respect for others and an eagerness to engage in new experiences and activities. Indeed, all the skills and qualities that we have witnessed over these past few weeks with the children’s remarkable approach to online learning.

The timeless wisdom of wabi-sabi is more relevant now than ever before as we search for meaning and fulfilment at this unique time in our society. It encourages us to focus on the blessings hiding in our daily lives.

Dr Edmonds



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The Hampshire School Chelsea

15 Manresa Road, Chelsea
London, SW3 6NB

Tel: +44[0] 207 352 7077