Education Matters

Head Master: Consistency is more powerful than intensity

Posted by Tim Bowden on Aug 3, 2019 6:00:00 AM

030819 Consistency is more powerful than intensityBy Tim Bowden, Head Master

Pithy little sayings encapsulating helpful wisdom are not hard to find. Sometimes they appear in social media feeds, sometimes in books, and sometimes they are transmitted in conversation with others. The problem is not so much in finding them, but remembering them and putting them into practice.

As I reflect on the content of the articles that I have written, I can see that I have bombarded readers with some of the little nuggets of wisdom that have struck me over the years.

  • “If you can’t get out of it, you may as well get into it.”
  • “We prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”
  • “Character is revealed in the big moments, but shaped in the small ones.”
  • “Education should teach us how to think, not what to think.”

During the break I came across another such saying that strikes me as brilliant, and I spoke to the boys about it at our first quad assembly for the Term.

“Consistency is more powerful than intensity.”

To the best of my knowledge, this phrasing owes its origin to Simon Sinek, who recorded a short animated video unpacking the idea in 2017. The video is easily found on YouTube.

The idea is very simple. If you want to become fit, a one-off nine-hour session in the gym is going to be less effective than thirty minutes each day over a month. Likewise, an annual check-up with the dentist will be less significant for your dental health than two minutes brushing your teeth, twice each day. An annual splurge on one’s wedding anniversary will do less for the relationship than taking time each day to reinforce the special place of your spouse in your life. Sitting down to dinner together, night after night is a powerful way to connect with one’s family.

Sinek’s application of the idea focuses on business and management. However, it seems to me to be indisputably relevant when applied to learning. While cramming for an exam has some limited value, in that short-term memory can help in that context, it is going to be far less powerful for one’s learning than consistent application. Twenty minutes of maths each day will develop a student’s mathematical capacity far more powerfully than a last-minute blitz. Likewise, for language learning, and essay writing, and basketball shooting, and every other context of learning. Consistency is more powerful than intensity.

Encountering the idea is one thing; remembering it and applying it are another! I am working hard on this one. It has become the phrase that I draw on when the early alarm summons me to do exercise. It is a prompt for me to prioritise reading my Bible and praying. It is a reminder that rest and recreation that are woven into daily and weekly life will be powerfully sustaining.

The challenge for us, I think, is that there is nothing glamorous, or headline-making, about consistency. It doesn’t necessarily feel as though something is being achieved, or that a big effort is being made. It is even a little boring – horror of horrors! However, I think that Sinek is right to suggest that this is where transformation and growth and progress are to be found.

May the Term ahead be one in which our boys learn and benefit from the power of consistency.

Detur gloria soli deo.

At Trinity, we celebrate families and all they do for their children and the community. We believe in working collaboratively with parents and students in a supportive Christian environment to ensure our boys realise their full potential, embrace their passions and find their life’s purpose.

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Topics: Boys learning, Study tips, Education