Dear Parents, Students, IPSS members and Colleagues,


I hope that you are following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube; whichever platform you prefer. Rather than using words to describe what has been going on in school there are some photographs below, grabbed from our social media feeds, to paint the picture about the last four weeks. Our social media presence is curated by Kritika Jugran from content that the masters and boys send her from the many activities, visits, competitions, conferences and workshops that they are involved in. It’s where you will see the pulse of the school and often get a better sense of the opportunities the boys have, rather than the feel of it that a visit gives because so much also happens off campus. It’s lovely to see your comments and responses to the stories we are sharing and I’m glad that you are reaching out virtually as well as directly; it’s another stream of communication that works for us.

Above: Round Square Pre Conference At School
Below: The Doon School was awarded the Best Boys' Boarding School by the Education World. With the trophy- Boys and Masters.

I don’t know how it happened, but it’s a month since I wrote. I think the September Trials followed by Midterms created a change of pace and the focus on academic work, marking and feeding back to the students somehow contracted the time… although when I look back through the social media feed I can see that there was no shortage of other things happening. I know that the work of reading the essays, assessing them and then report writing for the ToK class I teach meant that the weekly routine felt different.

Change in routine, like anything that forces us to break a habit or to do something differently, can cause us real discomfort and challenges. Novelty is one of those things that can sometimes lead to anxiety because it is usually accompanied by some uncertainty, but it can also allow us to look at the things we do all the time from a different perspective and require us to ask important questions about what we are doing and why. 

Seeing things through the eyes of others can have a similar effect, it’s why I have always enjoyed moving and meeting new people. At the moment I’m looking at everything around me through the eyes of my brother who is visiting me from the UK. He took a break from work and decided to pick up a motorbike  in Chennai (a Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor, for those who also love bikes) and spent five weeks riding it up to Dehradun to be here for Founder’s. He has not been to India since he visited 13 years ago and a lot has changed since then; a lot has changed in the four years I have known Dehradun! 
After five weeks of excitement on the roads, visiting all of the interesting places on the way, he has so many questions and observations about things that I used to notice, but no longer see. The same happens when we have new colleagues come to the school and meeting them soon enough after they start, to catch these questions before things become normal for them, is an important piece of the benefit that we get from having new people join the community. Many people pay consulting companies a lot of money for their observations and input, I’m convinced that listening to your new staff is more valuable because they are already the theoretical and practical experts in their field (it’s why one hires them!) and what they see is what’s happening. That change in routine for them, that unsettling period of novelty and new perspective is an enormous opportunity for growth for both the school and for them… provided we take it. We have to remember that neither of us is already right or complete and we both have things to learn from each other.

I’m about to start reading Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, by Johann Hari. My wife is reading it at the moment and it keeps coming up in our conversations. Novelty and the disconnection from a secure future is the theme of one of the chapters and something that I know many of our SC Form boys are facing at the moment as they turn their attention to their college applications and where they might be next year. I remember very strongly that sense, from the November of my last year in school, that I was ready to move on, to join the adult world and get to the finish line as soon as I could. It’s something that boys here feel too, and they give it a name; SCL… L for Leavers. It’s unfortunate that this disconnect is something that has so many detrimental effects and contributes each year to a deterioration of general discipline in the houses and the school and, in the long run, is part of the reason why some of our boys under perform in their exams in March and in May.  
When I first came to school I made the assumption, with our history, our Round Square membership and our love for positions of responsibility that the L stood for Leaders. That’s what made sense and seemed to fit, but that difference of one letter is the difference between leadership and the opposite of leadership. Leadership is about taking responsibility for oneself and others and this is what the SCLs must be doing in the school as the senior most students and role models. Having flipped through the chapter on the disconnection from a secure future and the impact that uncertainty has, coupled with what I know the boys experience as the weight of expectation from home and competition between one another for places, I have a better understanding of their plight… it’s not an excuse, but it is something that is real.
So what’s the antidote? What’s the thing that is going to make a difference? Well, of course, it’s connection… connection is the antidote and the opposite of depression, of loneliness, of addiction to the things we choose to do to self-medicate the feelings we have when connection is lost. 

This is important and exciting to know because in a community like ours the opportunity for connection is very high, but we have to be very deliberate about it. When we see that someone is disconnected we have to reach out more, not less, even if they don’t seem to want it; rejecting connection can be a safety response to avoid more pain, so we have to be patient, inclusive and full of compassion. Having three teenage children and having worked in four boarding schools full of them I know that it’s the times when you worry about them the most that you need to be closest to them, and being close requires the investment in time along the way that you can cash in and use when it matters the most. This is why it is so important that every child in school is really known by someone, why having a best friend at work makes everything ok and why having someone you can talk to at the end of a tough day allows you to sleep soundly and face the next morning.

Connection is what this week is all about for the Dosco community. This coming weekend is our chance to come together as a family of students, parents, alumni and friends to re-connect, celebrate and remind ourselves that we are stronger and greater than the sum of our parts. I look forward to welcoming the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee batches to the school and to my home for their lunches and dinners.

Please can I take this opportunity to remind parents and students to adhere to the school timings when it comes to outings, nights out and holidays; both leaving for and returning. Also a reminder to everyone that we have a communication protocol in place where the person to contact is the Master, Housemaster or the  Head of Department, who would most likely be able to respond to the issue that you are raising. Only then can a request or concern be escalated to the Deputies or Directors. I get many emails a day on my three school email addresses that I forward to the person best able to respond. I know that some people would prefer a response from me, but it is important that that those with the responsibility for things are informed and are able to exercise it. Thank you for your understanding.

The city is bracing itself for the influx of Doscos and Welhamites driving and flying in to turn back time and become 17 again… safe travels, have a wonderful time together. See you in the Rose Bowl, if not before.

Matthew Raggett

I am currently reading In One Person, by John Irving whose characters I adore for their honesty and imperfection and The Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann. The title poem was framed and hung in the hallway of my childhood home, part of my daily life. I think that it is a beautiful way to try and live.
The Doon School
Mall Road
Dehradun-248 001
Uttarakhand (India)