Fox and Hens - Year 2
Thursday Thought - 29th April
fear of the unknown
Assembly today developed from Mrs Rutter-Brown's Monday message and the idea of all life on Earth being special and precious. Following Mrs R-Bs Eco circle as one way of seeing us in the world (as opposed to the Ego triangle with a man at the top), I shared with children a different metaphor today - Mount Improbable, a mountain with many different peaks, each peak a living thing alive today.
One thing we homo sapiens, crocodiles, lampreys and sea urchins can be proud of is that we have all managed to avoid going extinct. Sadly, humankind is making this a real challenge for so many of the Earth's wildlife but every creature alive on Earth today: every mammal, plant, fungus, insect, lizard, fish and tree can trace it's ancestors back to before the dinosaurs to when life first emerged on Earth.
Children's mental health has been on my mind for many years, even more since the pandemic struck. A number of children have been expressing fear, at home and in school, around catching the virus and harmful micro-organisms. This had me thinking about our fear of natural things. A very small number of animals and plants (the ones we often know most about) can harm. Fear has evolved to keep us safe. But when sensible caution and wariness become disproportionate, that is harmful. It keeps us safe to be wary and careful around bees and wasps (which can sting), but the sad fact is that it is they, not we, who are endangered. We are doing far more harm to them than they do to us. Given the current fears are more around catching something you can't see, assembly shared some helpful bacteria and other micro-organsims that live within us, help us and some without which we would not be alive.
I believe that ignorance and lack of understanding and knowledge can be a real breeding ground for fear and fear quickly can turn to mistrust, even loathing or hatred. Whether a small creature or plant, a person from another culture or a different family to your own, knowing about life's diversity can turn ignorance to knowledge and understanding. I spent much of my adolescence ridiculously fearful of moths and flying insects; my poor mother having to safely remove them from a room before I could venture in. Thanks to my reading books about life on Earth and our natural ecosystems I am respectful but never fearful. Spiders are welcome to help control the fly population indoors and pollinating insects are gently removed by me to find a better living in among the garden flowers. And I remove them for those in my family who should perhaps read more about nature!
Have a fearless Thursday,
Ms S :-)
Monday Message - 26th April
there's no planet b
'No one is too small to make a difference, everyone can do something. If everyone did something then huge differences can happen.'
Thursday Thought - 22nd April
Happy earth day, seventh heaven and Five ways to wellbeing
Find out more on https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/
Visit our Eco Group at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/about-us/pupil-voices/eco-group
Happy Earth Day - April 22nd and what a wonderful day to be awarded our 7th Green Flag.
Congratulations, celebrations and thank you to Mrs Gajjar, the Eco Group and the many many children who have led us to this award. They have shown sustained interest and action with their green hands, hearts and minds. They have shared their thinking, noticed how we can make school better for all it's wildlife (including us), learned new stuff, taken action from litter picking to recycling plastic and given their time and attention to the common good. The award of the seventh green flag recognises our collective achievement.
We have to reapply for the Green Flag award every two years, the seventh flag is a symbol of what is so much a part of life at Kingsmead and embedded in the life of our school. I know many of our young people take our caring for the environment with them through life and I know of many ex pupils now working and studying in nature conservation, climate science and sustainability. With Covid dominating the news over the past two years, it can be difficult to remember that climate change is the challenge of our times. Our collective response will impact not only our own futures but the futures of thousands of other species with whom we share our home planet Earth.
Also this week, a massive thank you to the wonderful therapist and happiness coach, Louise Heywood who supported staff with a 5 Ways to Wellbeing staff meeting last night. Louise is always an inspiration, I know that many staff would happily have her move in with them as even after a full day's work, her input leaves us refreshed, hopeful and optimistic for the future. I thought I'd share the five steps we learned about and how our third term of caring for the environment will hit them all!
Five Ways to Wellbeing:
CONNECT - We homo sapiens, like chimpanzees, ants and bees are social creatures; we thrive when we are with and feel a sense of belonging with others.
Anyone out on playground duty the first day of the field being in use will see how beautifully we connect with one another in more natural places - it's a joy! One of the best playtimes I had last term was spent with some Sparrows who had discovered a Red Admiral butterfly by one of the tyre planters. We watched it together for almost the whole of play, people made way for each other to see, the butterfly was untouched and undamaged, other than when we very carefully removed it via a paper towel to the planter from the tarmac. We talked about where it may have come from (we think it might have something to do with the Wilshaw family) and how to care for it.
TAKE NOTICE - This term we are noticing our environment, and all the myriad creatures and species we share it with.
This time of year is perfect for noticing nature as it changes daily. We have an outdoor environment that has been developed to be diverse, interesting with lots to notice. This term's art project is encouraging us to notice the natural world in all its diversity. One of the things I love about drawing is its link to noticing and mindfulness. When we draw we are fully in the present, noticing and attentive. Once you've drawn something, from a stinging nettle to an orchid, your relationship to it changes: you care about it a bit more, it belongs with you in new way. Whether looking, photographing or drawing, noticing nature matters - it makes us happier!
KEEP LEARNING - Not just in school but throughout life. One of the joys of planning this term's whole school art project (see assembly) has been me learning about some species I had no idea had ever existed, as well as the Lakota Native American worldview which I think so many of us share.
Happy adults never stop learning. The future Mr Stewart is often asking me what plants are in the garden and while I know many, it's always fun to find out the name and preferences of a new one. I've been a gardener for many years and can never have enough in my personal nature knowledge library. One of the joys of planning the Art project this term was learning about some creatures I was unaware of, not least the Immortal Jellyfish. I'm reading a wonderful book 'How to Be Animal' (I recommend) which has informed our art project as well as my world view!
BE ACTIVE - Being out and about and physical raises our wellbeing. We humans are more than our minds. It might include sport and competition but some of us can find other ways that suit us better.
I describe my garden as my happy place but it's a place I am rarely still and after a day humping compost, digging, bending and stretching I am wonderfully exhausted and aching for a hot bath! With the bluebells about to come out the River Weaver, Marshall's Arm, Poors Wood and Vale Royal Woods the coming weeks will be the perfect place for a walk and for us less sporty types to be active.
GIVE - Those who help others are more likely to think of themselves as happy and we certainly see this in school. Interestingly, observing someone else help others and give also raises the wellbeing hormones in the observer so when we help others, when we're useful and kind we help many people in many ways.
Whether the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace giving makes me feel like I can do a bit for those whose work is caring for the environment. But it's not giving money that makes me feel most that I am really helping nature - that is when I pick up some litter that someone else has dropped or leave the car at home and walk or cycle instead. Children are natural givers and I can see the delight in the faces of those who give some shelter or care for a small creature at playtime.
I hope this has helped some think a little deeper about the advantages of being in nature for our wellbeing as well as caring for the species we live alongside. I hope the 5 ways to wellbeing will give us all something to think about and make us all happier. And living here, in the most biodiverse area of Cheshire (it's true!) we are blessed to find it in abundance on our doorstep.
"The earth is what we all have in common."