Often uttered and more often ignored perhaps, but this singular quote is not one we as a race accept willingly or easily. We were born with key senses and one of those, for those with the good fortune of its benefits, is sight. Our observation of others, of things, establishes the initial decisions we make.
The cake is chosen which most appeals, the book selected by the cover, the person you talk to prejudged on first look. None of these are uncommon, and the psychology behind all of this keeps the marketing and advertising industry in very good business. It also challenges our methods of acceptance and in schools, this is an area we constantly discuss ensuring that those new pupils who join us each year enjoy a seamless transition, are accepted into the body of the school and are accepting of each other as peers for the next few years.
The might of the media is currently busy shaming Trump for his inability to apparently see beyond those people of differing ethnicity; well-managed hype on the one hand, yet blatant ignorance on his part and that sense of sheer ignorance at taking someone on a first-hand value. It’s dangerous and yet we all do it.
We are trained to use our sense from our infancy, to look, listen, taste and there is no doubt, that those parents of current Westonbirt students were tested on Speech Day. Natasha Devon is a keen voice for promoting positive body images and mental well-being and we were very much looking forward to her arrival at school on the 6 July. Perhaps, as a dominant voice, she has been more heard and not so seen, but it was most unexpected when she arrived dressed in an outfit fit for a London Pride Float complete with rainbow tutu and feathers in her hair. As she walked into our very beautiful chapel, full of smartly dressed parents and the very best uniforms on show, she made an impact.
Undoubtedly, judgements were made.
The greatest impact of the day, was her speech which resonated with every single member of the 350 audience. The promotion of acceptance, of caring little for the comparisons we inevitably make of one another and the impact of doing something we are not going to be good at, fell clearly to everyone. Her words made a difference, the prejudgement challenged and her views hit home.
The day was absolute proof, that this old adage of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ could not be so key as it is now. As borders seem to shrink, and politics seem to support a more nationalist approach, it is down to us, parents and educators, to ensure that our children look beyond and see more value in people than first sight would have us believe. Conversely, and in my fortunate position as a Head, I often think that perhaps we as the adults could learn from the children, but no matter the teaching, it is the value that sticks and perhaps we should all live by a more preferred saying of ‘there is more to this than meets the eye’.