On Wednesday mornings I have the pleasure of spending twenty minutes with one of the Groups classes. I tend to use these sessions to develop thinking skills and it also enables me to gain an understanding of how individual children think. Armed with a range of thought provoking questions I sit in a circle with children who are eager to hear the question and share their ideas.
So, my question was – if you were to write a book about your life so far, what would be the title and why?
‘My book would be called ‘Everything has an effect’ says Rowan.
‘Go on’ I say.
‘Like when you eat a carrot, it has an effect. A creature could have had a meal from it, it could have turned into compost and nourished a plant or tree but you have eaten it.’
‘What about that leather jacket you are wearing?’ I ask.
‘EXACTLY’ say Rowan ‘ someone had to sit in a factory and make it, some animal had to die to provide the leather, everything has an effect, my life is all about effects’.
‘So what’s the answer?’
‘There isn’t one, it is just to be aware that all we do has an effect on something or someone and our actions have consequences’
‘I would call my book ‘Atoms’’ says Monty ‘because I am not really sitting on this chair, I am in fact being pushed away or resisted. My life would not exist to date without atoms’.
‘I agree with both of those views’ interjects Joe. ‘it is like my hand that I can wave in the air and that very action may change the universe completely, we will never know’.
My head is starting to hurt and any expectations that I had for book titles such as ‘football for ever’ or ‘my life with my pony’ have been blown out of the water.
‘My book would be called ‘death’’ said Will. A hush falls upon the room and I am feeling a little apprehensive – where is this going?
‘OK – um….why would you call your book ‘Death’ I ask, dreading what the answer might be and seriously considering terminating the conversation and drawing a new question from the list.
‘Since I was born I have wondered about what life after death might be. Will I become an apple on a tree, a spirit, a nothing or another person? Death is part of life and very interesting you know’
As a group we then discussed the fact that all matter returns to the earth and Will’s idea of becoming an apple was not entirely inaccurate. ‘Matter comes from matter’ said Ralph sagely.
What these sessions taught me is that we can all benefit from thinking and who better to teach us than our children. Their minds are uncluttered by adult concerns and there is a fresh way of looking at the world which is so engaging and illuminating. As a teacher, all we have to do is ask a simple question and then let the children do the talking – children really make me think!
Head of Bedales Prep, Dunhurst
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.