Friday, 31 May 2013

Lazing, a rare treat...

The piece we did yesterday during staff development
I call it Summer Sunset over the Drumlins (very Co Down)

I had the choice of going blacksmithing which i dearly love, but i decided i would do felting instead because it was more relevent and also i had never done it before. The result was this wonderful piece that took shape beneath my fingers. Whenever i do art which just happens i think, it isn't me doing this, something else is doing this. I'm just providing the fingers and the hands.

There has been an increased interest in William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. I'm hoping that is will only be a matter of time before it infects the education system. People then stop fetishising just academic performance and realise that the heart and soul are more important as they are foundations upon which thinking, thought, analysis and intellect is built upon. Sometime back i was in Killbegs with a friend and he asked me why are you obsessed with Morris? And i said, because he embodied for me a real example of dignity for life which was expressed in the highest form of art. But art that was accessible, art that meant something to everyone every day. That was the ideal. And day perhaps i will be able to draw like him. Till then i'll just copy him.

I'm not doing much today. I've been really busy over the last few weeks. Between admin, and teaching, the kids and the gym...and family i've been flatout. I'm hoping i'll get to see the Great Gatsby today. So lazing, yes, i WILL have some of that.

Life as a teacher. Recently i was asked what was the thing i hated most about the job. I had to think quite hard, and i said the pay. The pay sucks. And it does. Nottingham wages. But the thing i loved most was how it called upon ever fibre of my being to work with the kids. To do so with love as well. So not only did it say be an artist, a student, a forester, an athlete, a craftsperson, a festivals planner, a baker, an organiser... the list goes on and on - and then it asks that you do this with a bunch of incredibly talented and dedicated people AND to do so with your highest self.

Every morning us teachers say this verse:

We have the will to work
That into this our work may flow
That from which out of the spiritual world
Strives to become whole in us
In soul and spirit, in life and body.

Then we say good morning to each other.

When i first began this term i began it uncertain and slightly exhausted. It has been an uncertain and exhausting year for me, but something kicked in. Whether it was the weather, or whether i was the regular gym sessions, or whether it was discovering a pace that worked, i do not know, but something happened...and...i was also asked another question which was: Are you afraid or worried when you teach? And my answer to that was, It is recommended that you always be a little bit terrified when you enter the classroom, so that you never ever become over confident.

Recently i looked at the children again. I'm on my second round of child observation with them and i saw that they had really grown up over these past nine months. There was something also very bright and beautiful about them. It was actually like being in a garden of dazzling flowers. They still held the wonder of the world in their eyes, while coming to earth too with their taking hold of it through making things, through learning - their numeracy and literacy. Their time of wonder is not over yet. Nope.

We've been planning the festivals...there is a whole year of festivities that we get through. I love festivals because i think i'm South East Asian and we don't really do festivals from a materialistic point of view, probably because there isn't much money - well there didn't use to be much money in SEA. So a lot of festivals revolve around the speicalness of things done partly out of ritual - and then also partly out of newness. Like Chinese New Year was the only time of the year we got anything new. We observed all kinds of taboos, or pantangs during the new year. We visited family a lot. We reconnected with each other. That is what festivals were for me. I remember being completely delighted with them. The darkness associated with Christmas here - the over consumerism and the suicide rates shocked me when i first discovered them - and completely baffled me. Why would a child want more than ONE Christmas present? Surely that they got A PRESENT was enough? It was terrible when i witnessed the avalanche of presents that children got from parents who could barely afford to feed them. Useless tacky stuff which was instantly devalued the day after Christmas.

Anyway, the festivals thing has a deepr signifiance with the school. It is about the cycles of the year and it is tied in with a seasons and nature. Later on it is tied in with the saints. Later on it becomes a more community thing. It is celebrated on many different levels.

I really don't want to make the school sound perfect, cos it is not. We have our struggles too. But everyone is doing their best and one can really see that. At the present moment though we do have some incredibly good teachers on board.

I hope the kids think so.

Well the next step is preparation from Rathlin Island. And the Baba Yaga play. Parents' Evening, the School Reports and of course tying things up. That is what these last few weeks are going to be about. Then we head for Singapore. Where lazing around the pool reading about the Saints WILL be the order of the day.

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