Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The challenges ahead

Last week's drawing of St Michael in his colours and aspect.

The last two weeks have been filled with the activity of autumn. The work in the classrooms have been mirrored in the work in the wider world. The mood of class two is perfectly captured in the song of St Michael which they'll be singing with class three on Friday at Assembly.

In autumn St Michael, with sword and with sheild
Passes over meadows, the orchards and fields
He's on his way to battle 'gainst darkness and strife,
He is the heavenly warrior, Protector of Life.

The harvest let us gather with St Michael's aid.
The light he sheddeth fails not, nor does it fade.
and when the corn is cut and the meadows are bare
We'll don St Michael's armour, and onwards we'll fare.

We are St Michael's warriors, with strong heart and mind
We forge our way through darkness, St Michael to find
And there he stands in glory, St Michael we pray
So send us into battle, and show us the way.

At this point i must pause to say that it is this which i find so important in the ethos of the school. This celebration of the seasons which eddies and crests, like a wave. As the light fades at the equinox, St Michael who embodies challenge and strength, is their guide into winter. They celebrate the end of autumn with a harvest feast and games and they prepare to light the candles in the darkness as the darkness draws in. The next celebration will be the lighting of the lamps at Halloween or Martinmas, followed by Advent and then Christmas. In this was, in this overly commercialised and secular world, the children are given this wonderful gift of awe, mystery, wonder and reverence for the natural world and the world about them. The narrative follows one which is rooted in the natural rhythms of the seasons. They make connections between themselves and their ecology. And they do it in a magical, non-pedantic way.

One of the verses on St Michael written as part of the English main lesson.

Here the children made up their own sentences and drew St Michael and the dragon.

Much work has gone into the poems and verses, as well as the costumes, where the children continue to practice their motor skills and come together as a class to create what seems to sound like a little masterpiece. I can't wait to see it!

Out in the grounds, Liz has been putting them through their gardening paces with basic tool care. Last week and this week they gathered what there was of the vegetables which had grown over the very WET and SOGGY summer. By the sounds of it the slugs got the lion's share of the takings. However, blackberries and elderberries were also gathered and this week, Liz made jam with them. She told me how they also managed to collect some sour apples and the last i spoke to her she was waiting to see if the bottles had set overnight.

Along with the skipping and the beanbags, the music - they're learning to play Speed Bonny Boat on the recorder - and the eurhythmy, the gym and the tearing about in the woods, life goes on pretty much as normal. It seems pretty wonderful when Oisin begins to start reading now. What does that say mom? he'll ask. And i'll say, well what do you think it says? And he'll attempt the word. It's difficult not to compare at this stage and feel that reading is an organic, gentle activity, a world a way from when i was growing up and it was drilled into us.

So the next posting will have the pictures from the play. And i'm sorry that there are no photos of the kids again, but it will be unavoidable in the next posting.

PS: The herbs which we generously donated by Camphill are now doing excellently! The sorrel, chives and sage are thriving in the planters and beds. They look absolutely fantastic!! Thank you Tony!!!

No comments: