Friday, 30 January 2015

Baking the most of it

Painting of the Ark and a composition from the story
It is hard to record every single thing which takes place in the school each day. Like today for instance, when i got there, there was a full scale snowball fight going on. Then after that there was a snowman in the field. Later on one of my children discovered the principle of the pendulum by hanging a stone by a string, tying it on a stick and swinging the stick between two handles. Just like that. They did eurythmy, which always makes me want to cry with joy watching them, and then because it was soooo cold, i did baking instead of gardening with Class Two and Three. We made a jam Victoria sponge sandwich - four layers, no less. If you have ever tried teaching a class of seven to nine year olds how to cook, you may appreciate how extraordinary it is to get children standing around the table, waiting for their turn to cream butter and then even more incredibly afterwards, clean up after themselves and do a great job.

So, if you think it is all about the practical in the school, today, after we did the Main Lesson book, we gave the children different tasks to do. Three of them practised joined up writing, two did maths. One went on music lessons. Another did reading. Of the two which did maths, i was keeping an eye on one of them with the addition of up to a thousand places. As well as multiplication. This was executed perfectly. I was so happy. And the one who was reading read amazingly too... i just wanted to hug them and say, you are just wonderful! Congratulations! It is all coming together.

The magic of time.

Miracles happen everyday.

We had a school advisor along this week. It was very interesting. We discussed the Old Testament and i was saying to him that it was a great mythic cycle, to give it is place. Because it is part of a living religion, and because that religion has been at the centre of the contested history of Northern Ireland, there have been, in the past, parents which have questioned the need to teach the Old Testament. Or even people who have said that they believed this to be a religious education. This has not happened in my class. To be honest, we don't really teach it. We just tell the stories and then we use the material to then maybe do a maths Main Lesson e.g. how big was the ark? or practise English and spelling, etc. But i was saying to him that it is impossible to fully appreciate, especially Western art as well as world history, if you did not know the Bible. Most galleries would be incomprehensible and forget about Shakespeare, or indeed Milton or Webster, etc. Even the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s would be difficult to understand without knowing something of the Bible. As a cultural artifact the Bible is invaluable. This is why the Steiner curriculum was so meaningful. Teachers are required to grapple with the entire span of human history and think about it and how it recurs at various stages in the education.

Also, while there is a place for humour, i really do NOT like the Horrible Histories series. It makes our ancestors look like complete idiots. Is that the kind of message we want to be sending our children? That the endeavours of our forefathers and foremothers are ludicrous? If this is the price to be paid for getting children interested in history, then it is too high a price i would say. It is fine for teenagers going through their rebellious phase, but for children under the age of 14?  It is possible to make children interested in so called 'boring' subjects. I have never ever had the children tell me that these Bible stories, the fables, fairytales, the epic known as the King of Ireland's Son is boring. Nor do they say the stories of the saints and good people of the Earth are dull. In fact, they loved them and surely it is much better to give them examples to emulate, rather than suggest that behaving like dickheads is a great idea. Children live in wonder and why would we want to take that away from them sooner rather than later?

Anyway, right LOADS to do. It is very wet and cold now that the snow has melted. Ghin has now caught a terrible cough. I feel dreadful because i have not really believed him when he said he was feeling ill. He probably needs to be kept off school for a week to completely recover. It is really shit. There is a sourdough baking class in The Narrows this weekend...looking forward to that but worried about Ghin, ah well, roll on the weekend and the end of the month.

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