Fox and Hens - Year 2
Monday Message - 12th July
a Most mARVELLOUS END TO THE YEAR
Assembly today shared three things. One past, one present and one for the future (tomorrow as it happens).
Firstly to thank the children for their attendance at my wedding last Friday; I couldn't have been prouder of over 300 A* witnesses. Mr Kent too was amazed at how beautifully they all behaved. The ladybirds' beautiful flowers meant Mrs provided a wonderful Frieda Khalo hair-style. The cards and messages were just wonderful and Mr Kent and I spent yesterday reading them all, and those from parents and carers too. My mother, sister, niece and nephew stayed up late into the night, watching from Australia where Ma has been marooned since Christmas 2019. Mum said it was 'like a wedding in a Thomas Hardy novel' with villagers and local musicians playing on a Summer day. Which it was. And for those of you who have read any Thomas Hardy, that is where I hope the similarity ends!
Today there is a press release going out about a new award for schools; we are honoured and privileged to be it's first recipients. I will elaborate more in the newsletter (out Wednesday) but it really is testament to each and everyone who is part of school community: children, all the adults who volunteer and work here, governors, parents and carers who send their children to our school. Great team effort - thank you all, each and every one of you.
Tomorrow is Sports Day. Poor Sports Day, it can't win - too wet and it's cancelled, too hot and its...
... going ahead with some amendments. Teachers will ensure that time outside in heat is not unsafe and some events will be in the hall. You can help at home by sending in children with a sunhat and slathered up in the Factor 50!.
Happy Monday, Ms S :-)
Monday Message - 12th July
grace in adversity
They are great teachers, these footie players and their manager, setting young children who admire them so much as fine an example off the field as on it. The England men's team have united our country this Summer in a way that has eluded us for years. I was so very disappointed that we lost on penalties and by the closest of margins but that we are sad and disappointed in no way undermines the achievement of a squad of young men, the back room staff and their manager. Children and staff have relished every England win and yesterday we were infinitely full of hope right up to the last kick. But it was not to be.
What I love about football is that alongside the thousands of hours of training, planning and strategy is luck. Luck means that games are exciting, unpredictable and though last night we watched 120 minutes of a game where Italy, in honesty, showed the greater skill for most of the time, there was always a chance luck would intervene on our behalf. All luck, no effort is dull, no more fun than a slot machine. No luck all skill and the result will generally be unsurprising. The best games contain a magic mix of luck and skill and for me, football has a fine balance. Ancient Greeks were aware of the role of luck in life; luck, good and bad, was called 'fate' and Greek myth after Greek myth shows you can't cheat fate, what makes you the person you are is how you greet it.
When we are enjoying success it is only the very the worst of people who will laud it over those they have vanquished, crow and put down the defeated. Most of us find it easiest to be useful, kind and magnanimous, noticing the achievements of others, when we ourselves are experiencing the joy of success. This is winning well, winning graciously. But perhaps people's true good character is revealed more deeply when we lose well, when we lose with grace. Watching our young men, so disappointed after such a hard match, comforting each other; watching Harry Kane and Giorgio Chiellini embrace at the end, a single act of consolation and congratulation, showed how defeat can be bitter-sweet. When Gareth Southgate consoled Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho it was the consolation of someone who knows just what they were going through. Well almost. When Southgate missed his penalty in 1996 he was abused in the media for years; Harry Kane was lucky in the Denmark match that the goalie didn't hold on to the ball in the unusually poor penalty he took and Kane, through skill and luck, was able to get one in. Something Southgate or Kane won't face is the prospect of racial abuse because fate was against them at some point in a football match. Saka, Rashford and Sancho are not so privileged and this is one reason why Southgate has supported his players united in showing their support for racial equality before every game.
England 2021 have gone further than any England team since 1966 and were a team to celebrate unusual success even before kick off. Saka, Rashford and Sancho helped make this success. Winners or runners up, I could not be prouder of our England team, prouder of any England squad I have watched over many decades. Assembly today invited children to think more deeply about last night's match. We considered some very different characteristics that have been in evidence throughout Euro 2021.
Our children's characters are different though; their characters are works in progress, not yet fully formed. It not be until their mid-twenties that our characters become a more settled affair. Many children, far more than adults, find it hard to be gracious in defeat. They are more likely to cry and complain bitterly of unfairness and foul play. It is harder for young people to accept defeat gracefully; they are young and find the idea of the hand of fate harder to comprehend. In all the post match discussion I have not heard Southgate or one of our players speak of anything other than team spirit, sadness for them, the fans and the three young team mates who ran out of luck at the worst of times - and congratulations for the great play and perseverance of their Italian opponents. As for that amazing early goal at the start of the game (from a player whose selection had been questioned) to the fated penalties right at the end, Southgate did what the best leaders do: took more of the blame and less of the credit than he has perhaps deserved.
A not so happy (but nevertheless instructive) Monday.
Ms S :-)
Monday Message - 5th July
infinitely full of hope
I am reading a book with this very title at the moment. It is written by Tom Whyman, a young man, a philosopher, new to fatherhood. He asks a question that has been on the lips of humankind since we settled down from our nomadic beginnings. Can it be right to bring a new life into such a world as we find ourselves in? It is a very interesting book, so interesting in fact I have ordered another three copies which friends and family may find coming their way by way of a gift.
Hope is, by definition, inseparable from difficulty and imperfection in the world. To the reality of our world it makes a sanguine, positive response (if our life, our society and the world were perfect there would be nothing to hope for). Hope's grumpier cousins, resignation and despair are also responses to a far from perfect world. One of the things I love about working in a primary school through is that young children are, more than anyone, more full of hope and less inclined to resignation or despair. Their hopefulness builds their resilience, their willingness to crack on and make a positive, optimistic contribution to the future.
Year 6 went off to Manley Mere this morning, happy their trip wasn't cancelled. They all looked infinitely full of hope for a happy day - whatever the weather was up to. When adults experience hostility, brutality and unkindness, we can find it very difficult to forget and so forgive. What I love about children is their infinite capacity to see the better angels in others and even when when that can be hard to see, their preparedness to move on anyway and give it another go. Children live much more in the present than adults. Philosophically speaking, I think it is they who are wise and could teach us oldies something in this respect. The present is all we can influence, all we have. The past is gone; what we have done and said can't be undone, unsaid, only learned from. The future is yet to happen and will be the consequences of more than our individual actions and choices.
There has been much speculation in the media on people enjoying themselves and some of my online friends have been sadly inclined to rush to judgement of others enjoying themselves. I have heard what is the point of getting excited about football when there is the pandemic, climate change and economic insecurity for so many? Euro 2020 has been called an unnecessary distraction. Unlike these people, many of whom I generally agree with and respect, I am not inclined to judge football (or tennis) fans or players harshly. With us Liverpool fans cheering on the likes of Harrys Kane and McGuire and Gareth Southgate leading a team reflecting the very best of modern Britain. Young men like Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling are taking a moral stand and showing leadership on issues such as poverty and racism, the players show team spirit and the best of our country. Euro 2020 is showing very clearly that we are less divided than we might suppose and have more in common than usual team allegiances might suggest.
Children and young people have been hit hard by the pandemic in terms of their daily life, education and employment. This has been despite them being far less at risk from the nastier effects of the virus. Little distractions, be they watching a football game, a trip out or other small thing to enjoy give them the strength to be infinitely full of hope in an imperfect world. I was speaking with a therapist in school last week; we both value distractions as a chance to just take a break from the worries and anxieties of our imperfect world. Goodness knows there is much to make us anxious right now and a distraction or two are very welcome. And in our imperfect world, hopefulness will not only be happier for the hopeful, but it will be far more likely to have a positive impact on the future than resignation or despair.
So I am hopeful the weather will buck up and the end of term events from sports day to some old woman getting married will all provide some enjoyable distraction before what I hope will be a wonderful August for us all.
Happy Monday, Ms S :-)
Monday Message - 21st June
happy summer solstice
Today's assembly started with the Earth's tilting on its axis and how this causes the seasons with the Summer and Winter solstice being the longest and shortest days of daylight hours. I don't know about you, but I find there is something comforting in an age where we are having to think about every trip and every interaction, to remember that the Earth is going about it's business pretty much as ever in the orbit and spinning on its axis departments.
Mrs R-B and I have been focussing on Trees alongside Gypsy Traveller History in June's five routines for the children. The living world is less resilient to our human actions and pollution but the trees will be very happy with the daylight today, able to convert the sunlight into sugar and put on growth. Assembly asked children to remember Mrs R-B's assembly on Wangari, the Nobel prize winning tree planter of Kenya. Today we looked at two young activists: Greta Thunberg and Lesein Mutenkei. Both were inspired to care for the environment by learning and listening, Greta in primary school lessons about climate change and Lesein, listening to Wangari Maathai. Both are real examples to our young people.
Examples to others, and their opposite, can be found in our own town. At the end of assembly we considered Northwich's young people. The ones who have vandalised Weaver Square and killed the young trees planted to provide shade, beauty and clean air and also one of our ex-pupils, making a positive contribution to the local environment through his work with the Canal and River Trust. Kingsmead alumni are one of the reasons I am pleased to have remained headteacher at the same school for so long; I remember them as nippers and they are invariably a real source of pride. No one wants to be known, remembered or judged for the worst we have done. Reflecting on the lamentable events in Weaver Square, I am glad the perpetrators are unnamed and hope they might learn better ways and become better than they have shown with this act of mindless violence.
Wangari Maathai spoke of being like the Hummingbird and doing the right thing, even faced with insurmountable odds when your actions don't seem to make any difference; Mrs R-B shared this clip with children and staff last week. At times of pandemic, climate change and endless bad news it is a call to action over despondency, hope over despair.
Happy Solstice 2021, Ms S :-)
Monday Message - 7th June
self-discipline and good character
Assembly today revisited a story many children will remember. Where Lutz Long's advice to Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin helped the American long jumper qualify for the finals when Long took silver to Owens' world record gold. Lutz Long was killed fighting for Germany in the Second World War but Owens never forgot the friendship he was shown by the young German athlete or the risk Long took, befriending him in the stadium where Hitler was present and watching. Lutz Long would have wanted the gold as much as Owens but his self-discipline and good character made him brave enough to do the right thing in really difficult circumstances.
Hip-hop artist Akala also crops up in today's assembly. His quote is on our website page Behaviour Principles.
Discipline counts for much more than talent.
Discipline is often thought of negatively, in a pejorative way. Today in assembly and on the Monday Message for the children we thought about it differently. I think there are two types of discipline.
Self discipline. This is the discipline we all, children included, have within us, the self-regulation and self-control we choose when we are useful and kind, respectful and safe. Including when things are difficult, such as when we feel angry, sad or anxious. This is the most important discipline for a happy life. This discipline might be thought of as a gift to ourselves to others and the world - the gift of our good characters. The consequence for children who choose self-discipline is that they will enjoy more positive experiences with other people and in their world. They are also less likely to encounter the second type of discipline.
Discipline we receive. This is when people with authority (like teachers, sports coaches, mid-day assistants, traffic wardens, PCSOs or police officers) tell us what we need to do to keep ourselves, other people or the environment safe and well. Everyone experiences this type of discipline whenever we read and follow an instruction, obey the law, follow the rules whether we are in school, the swimming pool or anywhere else where expectations are set. If we use our self-discipline to note and observe these, the discipline we receive feels light and our life runs as smoothly as it can in good times and bad. However, if we choose not to listen and follow rules or laws the consequence will often be a sanction. People tend not to like sanctions, things like the loss of freedom to be out at playtime, sitting apart from others, being prevented from accessing some activities. If children learn to think of these as consequences, as their choice, they will feel more empowered and will have taken a step to greater self-discipline.
Parents and carers can help their children develop self-discipline by having conversations with them! Children often come home with tales of wrong doing (theirs and more often other people's). A conversation where adults encourage and notice their child's self-discipline will reinforce pro-social choices. If children come home upset or angry about some discipline they have received, talking about the choices they made (were these useful and kind? pro-social or anti-social?) and if next time there might be a more successful choice, will help children understand deeply that the locus of control is very much with them.
So when Akala says 'discipline counts for much more than talent' I think it's self-discipline that he's talking about.
Sometimes in children show a talent or flair for something. They seem to find something effortless and don't have to work nearly as hard as their peers to apparently do well. But what happens if they don't work hard? What happens if they rely on 'natural flair' and good fortune and don't put in the effort and interest that some of less apparently 'talented' peers do? What I have noticed in over twenty five years of teaching is that these children become less talented. And the children who have worked hard and persevered? Well, they grow talent and flair. Nature isn't a level playing field: we are all born with different abilities and talents. The good news is our futures are not determined at birth; we have a part to play. Just as when we don't water a plant it will die, when we don't develop the self-discipline to work hard and enjoy being the best we can be, so our natural talents wither and weaken.
Which is why some children who were not 'top of the class' in primary school do better in GCSE and A levels and at university than some of their classmates who might have been on higher reading levels and done better in tests at primary school. This is why some talented musicians give up at high school while others go on to achieve high grades in their instruments.
So how to have a conversation with your child if they are upset that they're not as good as someone else? Remind them they are not in competition with anyone other than their own current performance. Rather than worry about not being good enough at something - act. Because with learning, however good the teacher, prestigious the school or college, however expensive the instrument, the answer is in your own hands. From learning to play an instrument, to read, to bang off times tables, self discipline too improves with encouragement ... and practice!
Happy Monday :-)
Thursday Thought - 27th May
SUPPORTING PRO-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND THE PRINCIPLE OF EVERYONE
Yesterday's staff meeting, for teachers, teaching and mid-day assistants was looking forward to the last half term of the year and supporting the high levels of pro-social behaviour that we expect from everyone. As with high aspirations for any achievement, it is usefuller and kinder to all our children that we have high expectations for pupil behaviour, even if this means that sometimes these are missed. Better to aim high and fail than to aim low and achieve too easily.
Since the full return to school for all pupils, alongside their academic achievement and stamina for work we have also focussed on children's emotional wellbeing, their sense of belonging and being part of our school community. We know that children had had many different experiences of lockdown: some good, some less positive and others interesting. It was useful and kind to not start the return with adults nagging over small issues of compliance, that we accepted children's efforts and work. I hope many of you have seen the Art Belonging project and our contribution at Barons Quay where we celebrated everyone's contribution from those who had put in their absolute best effort to those who had been more in the 'just get the drawing done' end of the market! Most put effort and care into their contributions but, for this piece it was important to include the contributions of everyone.
We have been impressed with how children have returned to school. Stamina has improved. Pupils have been hopeful for the future and sanguine about restrictions and times when we have had to disappoint such as the cancelled trip to Anglesey. Attendance (always a good sign of happy children with a sense of belonging) is excellent.
It is now time to increase our expectations and return to a little more rigour in what we expect of children in caring for themselves, other people and the environment.
The importance of everyone
At the staff meeting we reflected on the importance of everyone; every adult working in school having a duty to support every child's pro-social behaviour by noticing and ensuring consistent consequences - positive and negative.
Our updated policy, which has been approved by governors, sets out the value of every child, with all their different starting points. A disability or particular circumstances might well mean that some children will need additional guidance and support in order that they can learn to behave usefully and kindly. Learning pro-social behaviour is no different to any other area of learning; people need to learn and some need a bit of extra help to achieve. This is why a person's difficulty can not be an excuse or licence to be anti-social, but rather is an entitlement to additional care, guidance and support.
Most children come to school with strong pro-social attitudes towards their peers and the environment. They are responsible and considerate of others. These children are valued equally and while they may not need additional support, their contribution, their entitlement to enjoy their learning and achievement in school is just as important.
After half term
Therefore, usual levels of being pedantic about things will be in operation after half term. Children will have increased expectations to care for themselves with excellent listening, attention and care for their work. We will increase our expectation of their care for others by ensuring their conduct is useful and kind to everyone - unlimited. Children can expect to be challenged when not following policies for things like uniform and appearance, healthy eating, inside voices and walking, good manners and common courtesy.
As ever, we will make reasonable adjustments for children with particular needs but before asking for an exception to be made it might be worth reflecting on whether always having an exception made is in their best interests. Is is useful or kind to children to grow up thinking that pro-social behaviour, including compliance with rules are for others, not them? A few religious practices require the wearing of a small piece of jewellery. Our uniform policy is flexible enough to be compatible with the Equality Act without adjustments being necessary.
You can help your child by encouraging them to wait for things like ear piercing until the first week of the summer break, so on return to school there is no need for exceptions to be made and earrings can be left at home. Please also take some time to read our policy. It is in two parts, the first part being relevant reading for everybody.
We will help children by using assemblies and reminders in class over the first weeks back to ensure all the children are reminded of our policy and how they will be expected to make a positive contribution for themselves, others and the environment.
Onward and upward!
Ms S :-)
Thursday Thought - 13th May
the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it
Robert Swan - Advocate for the protection of Antarctica and renewable energy
Our global ecosystem is an intricate design that we are yet to completely understand. Biodiversity is one of the many wonders of our world; the variety and variability of life on Earth. However, global biodiversity is reducing rapidly. Species are disappearing faster than expected. In school we have been working on an art project called ‘Belonging’ helping us to celebrate the biodiversity on our planet, but the children have written about the animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms in the past tense, as though they were already extinct. It makes me sad to think that all of this wonderful and interesting life is at risk and that writing about these living things in the past tense could become a reality.
Humans have only been around for 200,000 years, a tiny sliver of time in comparison to the 4.6 billion years of our planet’s history. Yet in that time we have had a greater impact on our planet than any other species. The extinction rate of species is now thought to be about 1,000 times higher than before humans dominated the planet. In a clip I shared with the children in assembly today, I was shocked to learn that the number of lions in Africa has dropped by 65%, the number of flying insects in Europe has reduced by 75% and the number of BlueFin Tuna in the Pacific has dropped by a staggering 95%. Billions of individual populations have been lost all over the planet, with the number of animals living on Earth having plunged by half since 1970. Over the past 50 years the human population has grown rapidly, which means we are putting more pressure on land and water than ever before and nature is struggling to cope.
However, while the threat to biodiversity is a looming problem, there are clear solutions available. As humans become better informed, we have a better understanding of why our activities need change. Sustainable practices and general respect for other lifeforms can make a world of difference in protecting every fauna, flora, and other organisms that share this planet with us.
Protecting our planet starts with us. The climate crisis can leave many feeling helpless, as though there is nothing they can do on an individual level to affect change. However, behavioural changes go a long way in shifting to a greener society. Here are 10 simple things we could all do to make a start towards sustaining our planet’s biodiversity for future generations to continue to enjoy:
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut down on what you throw away. Follow the three "R's" to conserve natural resources and landfill space.
Volunteer. Volunteer for cleanups in your community.
Educate. When you further your own education, you can help others understand the importance and value of our natural resources.
Conserve water. The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that eventually end up in the ocean.
Shop wisely. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable shopping bag.
Use long-lasting light bulbs. Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Plant a tree. Trees provide food and oxygen. They help save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change.
Don't send chemicals into our waterways. Choose non-toxic chemicals in the home and office.
Bike more. Drive less.
Ways to help the planet are within everyone’s reach, and it takes one positive action to spark a cascade of positive outcomes.
Monday Message - 10th May
Northwich Education Partnership's [NEP] Art project 2021 is titled Belonging. Belonging, feeling you have a place, is so important for humans to enjoy life, make a positive contribution and thrive. Whether in their family, friendship group, classroom, school or community, children all feel better when they feel 'at home'. In the Summer Term curriculum here in school, we hone in on caring for the environment. Therefore our contribution to the NEP art project is about our humankind belonging in nature, and, as it says in our ethos and values, to help children 'understand that, while only one species among many, our actions will affect the future of our planet.
When I was teaching my own class, I was no fan of including everyone's work, thoughtlessly, in class displays. I thought it devalued the efforts of those who'd done their best to achieve something of real quality and beauty to just display everyone's work without thinking about it and regardless of the effort put in. My job was to provide a curriculum where, over a year, everyone was able to achieve something of genuine quality which was displayed beautifully, not as a token to include them, but on merit, earned, a model and exemplar of which they could be proud. And, by and large, I have not changed my mind and am pleased to say I never taught a class where every child's contribution wasn't celebrated.
But our Belonging project is different. I have thoughtfully included drawing and/or writing from everyone who made work, regardless of it's 'quality' or the effort involved. And there is a good reason for this; Art (as opposed to decoration) is at least as much about what it means as what it looks like. Not everyone's boat is floated by the act of drawing and on the day they made their work, children were in a range of mindsets. But that does not mean they don't belong - with us in school (or in nature as in the project). So my work as curator has been to put together work that is beautiful without leaving anyone out. And to curate it as beautifully as I can. It has been a labour of love and I thank in particular Mrs Rutter-Brown and Mrs Helliwell for their useful and kind help in the matter as it has also been very time consuming!
You will be able to see the children's work for yourselves in end of May and in June in Barons Quay and of course in the NEP online Cave Gallery.
Happy Monday, Ms S :-)
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
Through words on Wednesday and our Thursday and Monday assembly, we have shared the words eco and ego with the children and asked them to consider how they can play their part in caring for our environment, our focus for this term. There are two points of view in how you perceive the world and how you show up and interact every day. You can see life from the ego’s point of view or the ME view – what’s in it for me? Or you can choose the eco perspective, the WE solution, how you can contribute to the greater good and make the world a better place.
We can often approach life with a preoccupation of how “I” feel, what can “I” get from this situation, what this person has to offer “me” but this ‘ego’ way to live, which may give short term benefits or temporary feel goods will not sustain and you can often be left with a feeling of needing more. It’s a little like the birthday and Christmas wish lists that children put together. They feel life would only be better if they could just have the latest gaming device, the most expensive trainers. However the reality is that these things don’t make our lives any better and their novelty soon wears off, leaving us wishing for the next updated version, as surely that will be even better.
Living from an eco-centric view means coming from a place of compassion, to share and to be a giver, to contribute to making the world a better place. It starts with asking yourself: How can I show up? Where can I go? What can I share?…so that I may contribute to an individual, a group, or a situation? This is our place of power, the place that not only affects the greater good of humanity, but it is ultimately how we can feel good about ourselves and find true fulfillment and self-worth.
We are all intertwined with the earth. Every single one of us envelops in the sunlight, the air, the water, the ground, all of it. Obviously we need the earth to survive, but we often take the earth for granted. But loving the earth and appreciating the earth is just one small bit of being ecocentric. Being ecocentric means to live like you are your soul. To live as a soul on earth and be happy and appreciate what is around you. According to dictionary.com ecocentrism is a philosophy or perspective that places intrinsic value on all living organisms and their natural environment, regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance to human beings. In a nutshell, it's being one with your soul, planet, and everyone and everything else around you. To live in harmony with every living thing as an equal.
'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."