21/10/2019

Plus ça change…

A thought provoking couple of days.

 

First reflection, don’t travel through Paris at rush hour if you can avoid it.

 

Second reflection. Plus ça change!

 

The two are connected.

 

Last week I had the privilege and honour of being invited to give a keynote speech at the annual international Congress of the Comite´ Franc¸ais Pierre de Coubertin held in the Université Paris Seine, on the outskirts of the French capital.

Conference items

The Comite´ proudly celebrates the the legacy of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games at the end of the nineteenth century, whose inspirational vision was to use the wider values of sport as a means of promoting international peace and understanding; blending the power of physical activity, education and culture to bring nations together in a period of heightened tension prior to the First World War as Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Balkan States of Southern Europe - in varying alignments - dangerously manoeuvred for continental predominance.

My brief, in the context of de Coubertin’s original vision, was to outline our work in using the Olympic and Paralympic Values - excellence, inspiration, courage, determination, friendship and equality - to shape the ethos of the school, enrich the curriculum and develop a wide range of thematic international partnerships - most recently of course, those with schools in Japan in the lead up to the Games in Tokyo next year…

Derek Peaple presentation 

And so it struck me, with some poignancy, as I sat in the audience waiting to present, listening to erudite and insightful academics reflecting on parallels with the current re-emergence of assertive mono-nationalism in many parts of the world, and fitfully flicking on and off of the BBC website for updates on eleventh hour negotiations in Brussels, that perhaps we need a little bit of de Coubertin back in lives right now. Just to see us through. 

 

Plus ca Change...

Pierre de Coubertin

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