WordS on Wednesday
The limits of my language are the limits of my mind - Ludwig Wittgenstein
a month where the first Thursday is always World Book Day and International Women's Day is hot on its heels
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Three words that are the national motto of France. Three words that will help us care for ourselves and each other through the summer term and beyond.
Liberté means liberty or freedom. After the holiday, the field should have dried out and we should be able to play on it. This will bring us more freedom and liberty at playtime. But, as the French motto shows us, freedom is not something that we can enjoy on its own.
Égalité means equality. The French motto reminds us that without equality and fairness, not everyone could enjoy the freedom and liberty that should be rights for all. Everyone has the right to be treated with equity and fairness. So alongside our rights to freedom and liberty, comes our responsibility to treat others with fairness and respect.
Fraternité means brotherhood (and sisterhood for that matter). This isn't about the brothers and sisters in our families at home but about our brothers and sisters in our communities, places like school. Fraternité means that we think of other people in our community like our brothers and sisters. It means everyone belongs in our school community. It means we should treat everyone usefully and kindly, let everyone join in and play safely and considerately. With our right to freedom, equality and belonging in our community comes the responsibility to think of everyone, unlimited, as a brother or sister in our communities.
I hope that the French national motto will help us all here in England to enjoy happy playtimes unlimted, throughout the Summer term.
Three words to help us reflect on caring for other people
Annoying is a word we sometimes use to describe people who irritate and exasperate us. But here's the thing; there are two types of annoying people.
Some people annoy us because they are choosing to. Perhaps they are talking while you want to listen and learn. Perhaps they want everybody to play their game where they take the lead. Some folk will want to touch us and 'be in our face' even when we ask them to stop. They might say something is a 'joke' when it's going too far and you are not enjoying it. These people are choosing to be annoying; they are not being useful or kind. So it's fair enough to let them know and ask them to stop annoying you.
However not everyone who can annoy us is making an unkind, unhelpful choice. What you find 'annoying' might be something other people can't help. A person with a physical disability may not be as fast in games and may find it harder to keep up. For these folk it's useful and kind to adapt our play so everyone can join in. Some disabilities mean people may only like to talk about one or two subjects, things that mean a lot to them (and they may go on about them a lot!). Is it useful and kind to tell these folk they're being annoying? It might be useful and kind to have a little chat with them anyway, even if it's not something that really interests you. Some people with a hearing loss may talk very loud; it may be annoying but it can also be something they can't help. Is it useful and kind to call people annoying for things they can't help?
Toleration is a word that means when we respect people's differences, in particular differences in their beliefs or behaviour. In Britain we have a fantastic law - the Equality Act. This means in the UK we are expected to tolerate and accept different behaviours and beliefs and ways of being. Here in the UK it is unlawful to treat people unkindly because of their skin colour, religion or belief, sex, age or disability.
Acceptance is an even kinder and usefuller word than toleration. It means we welcome people who are different to us and don't treat anyone as an outsider. We have no outsiders in school; we accept people's differences and respect everybody - unlimited!
15th March 2023
This is an interesting poem.
Do you like Lizzie?
What would you think of Lizzie if she was in your class?
What is a 'tomboy?' Have you heard this word?
Why is Michael afraid of telling Lizzie he thinks she's great?
What word does he use to tell you what he thinks of himself?
Do you think children and teachers are different today?
8th March 2023
Happy International Women's Day
The first person to wish Ms S a happy day was 'Mr Stewart', closely followed by Mrs Galvin, one of our school Governors who sent this poem. Ms S loves that it's called Dragon's Breath because sometimes, women who are feisty and have strong views are called Dragons. When a woman is called a dragon it is often not meant usefully and kindly. Ms S loves that this poem reclaims what can be an insult and makes it rather fabulous.
by Nikita Gill from an anthology of poems called Wild Embers
Girls like you
to tame wild dragons,
to fight in wars,
to lead armies.
Girls like you
to swallow darkness,
to quell monsters,
to destroy obscurity.
Girls like you
were given life,
to bring tempests,
and hail gales
unto their enemies.
Don't let a king
or a prince
or a fairytale
tell you you are smaller than that
or who you are meant to be.
The last verse is interesting is the most interesting and has an important message for us all; it cautions us to beware of telling us we can't achieve something because we are a girl (or a boy for that matter). Good character (our usefulness and kindness), hard work, persistence and resilience are what really makes a difference to success and happiness. Thank you Mrs Galvin and Happy International Women's Day everybody - unlimited!
1st March 2023
Why do so many adults, so many successful people bang on about the importance of reading?
Below are just a few words about the importance of reading.
Does one particularly chime, or ring a bell for you?
Has a book changed the way you see yourself, other people or the world?
Have you read a book you think will still be important to you in five years? Ten Years? Why?
show the love - in all its different ways
15th February 2023
Is love is all you need?
We have been thinking about four kinds of love this February. We have also learned four interesting Ancient Greek words.
Agape - This is the love of 'stuff.' The love of stuff enriches our lives. People who love reading and who read for pleasure enjoy and succeed in life. People who love being in nature and engage with the natural world are known to enjoy better mental health and wellbeing. People who love sport and fitness are healthier throughout their lives. People who love Art and Music enjoy experiences that are beautiful and sublime.
But is the love of stuff always good for us? Can you think of things you love which are not so good for you? Screens and games, chips and burgers, sugar and sweets for example. Perhaps when we love these things it's best to enjoy them in moderation, ration them, love them now and then rather than every day. Then you can love them without them causing you harm.
Eros - This is the fluttery love adults feel for one special person. They might get married or set up home together. Some will have children.
Most young adults will start to experience this love. It can be difficult as well as joyful. Perhaps this is why so many pop songs, operas, plays and books have been written about this sort of love.
Philia - The love between friends is special. To have someone you can trust and always feels safe with is a marvellous gift from you to them and them to you.
But friendship can have problems. We are sad when our friends move on to other people or places or argue with us. What about when friends exclude others from games? What about friends who want to control you - tell you who to play with and how to dress? What about when your friends want you to leave others out or do something you know is wrong?
Storge - We don't choose our family but familial love is deep and strong. Whether you live in a birth family, adoptive or foster family or with special guardians, the adults who care for you chose to have you. Storge is the only love people don't choose to have which is interesting.
Family love is no different to other loves - it's joyful and problematic too! No one can make you quite as angry as parents do. No one loves you in quite the way your family does.
So love is like so much in life. It is mostly good but not without its difficulty. Which is why it is so very interesting and why we have spent February thinking about it!
8th February 2023
by Elizabeth Jennings
I fear it's very wrong of me,
And yet I must admit,
When someone offers friendship
I want the whole of it.
I don't what everybody else
To share my friends with me.
At least, I want one special one,
Loves me much more than all the rest,
Who's always on my side,
Who never cares what others say,
Who lets me come and hide
Within his shadow, in his house -
It doesn't matter where -
Who lets me simply be myself,
Who's always, always there.
This is an interesting poem about friendship; it uses the word 'love,' what the Greeks called 'philia' to describe when friends really love each other. But is the friendship Elizabeth Jennings describes all good? Is it useful and kind unlimited?
What is the poet admitting in line 2? We usually admit things when we know it's not quite right
In line 3 it says 'offers friendship'. How do people offer friendship?
Why do you think the poet doesn't want anyone to share her friends (lines 5 and 6)?
What does the poet want her special friend to be like?
Should a friend be on your side whatever you do?
Is there anything you notice about the two verses? How are they similar? How are they different?
a month of new beginnings
A long cold month of long dark nights but one with the promise of new beginnings - a fresh start. This term we shift our thinking from caring for ourselves to the people around us, other people in our school, our local community and wider world.
In praise of ordinary
Today is just a normal Wednesday. Nothing special. An ordinary day. How does that make you feel?
To be ordinary is to be commonplace, mundane or normal. Ordinary people are typical for their age, not unusual or particularly special. This might lead us to think ordinary is a bad thing. Yet yesterday we heard some beautiful music celebrating the common or ordinary people who might not attract our attention or admiration.
Shakespeare's Hamlet says, in the famous play called after this extraordinary and unusual young man
'There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.'
Do you agree with Hamlet? Whether we agree or not, Hamlet's words are thought provoking and interesting. Imagine if we thought of everything as belonging in one of three buckets: the good, the bad and the interesting. Which bucket would be the fullest? Fullest of stuff, of people, of thoughts and of dreams?
The normal, commonplace and ordinary might not be exciting and may even seem rather dull. Would we be happier and more tranquil if we took some time to notice and appreciate the ordinary and everyday things that make up a day? The people who help us in small ways? The people we may take for granted but who make our days easier, happier and more peaceful?
It's worth remembering that however ordinary or commonplace we might seem to others, each and every adult and child in our school is very special. We are all extraordinary to those who love us. To our parents, family and the friends who love us, the most ordinary things we accomplish will be marvelled at and admired as something really special.
So perhaps in the case of the mundane, the common and the ordinary, Hamlet is correct - they are neither good nor bad but our thinking makes them so.
Happy New Year - Chinese New Year of the Water Rabbit
Chinese New Year is celebrated over 15 days, from 22nd January to 9th February so the celebrations start this weekend. If you are of Chinese heritage happy New Year to you and your family.
In year 7 most children move to high schools. It is also the year when the Chinese New Year returns to the animal from the year they were born. Most people who turn 12 in 2023 will have been born in the year of the rabbit as your Chinese zodiac sign comes every 12 years. Each animal has five versions and this is the year of the Water Rabbit, also known as the Black Rabbit.
In the Chinese calendar, the rabbit is a symbol of a long life, peace hope and prosperity. As we move from the year of the Tiger to the year of the Rabbit, Chinese astrology says this year will bring things lacking last year: peace, tranquility and harmony.
Peace - freedom from disturbance, fighting or argument
Tranquility - a feeling of calm, being at peace (especially with yourself)
Harmony - when people (or in music, notes) fit together beautifully
Most people may not believe in astrology, star signs or horoscopes but this doesn't mean they're not interesting. Perhaps things we don't believe in can be useful; not because they predict a future outside of our control but because predictions might give us a nudge to encourage them to happen. And the year of the Rabbit is a nudge to us to be our best selves.
What do you think?
Should we sit back and wait to see if the horoscope was right? or
Could we could act together to make 2023 a year that is peaceful, tranquil and harmonious. And if you think this...
Where better to start than here in school?
When better to start that January and Spring term when we are all thinking about how we care for other people?
Happy Chinese New Year to everybody - unlimited!
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
Yesterday we heard some music that's a metaphor, music about the sea that's also about human nature. Today's words, by poet John Donne, is another metaphor. It compares human beings to land, to geography.
What does John Donne mean when he tells us 'no man is an island'?
Do you know what a continent is (you might remember from Geography lessons)?
What is John Donne describing as a continent in this poem?
So what might John Donne call a school in Geographical words?
Our school has lots of different people, but we have lots and lots more that makes us similar. This makes us a community. Everybody, unlimited belongs in our school - there are no outsiders. This helps us as much as other people because not one of us can thrive without the others around us.
Treat other people as you would want them to treat you
This idea is called the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule can be found in all countries, religions and beliefs across the world. It's a universal idea (universal means for everybody, unlimited).
Here in school, we think about caring for others after an Autumn term of thinking about caring for ourselves. Because if we don't care for ourselves, don't think about how to be our best self, we can't care for others and want them to be their best selves.
You might have made a new year resolution at home. Over the coming weeks we will be giving thought to other people and we will start with those closest to us here in school - the classmates and adults we are alongside most days. You are going to be asked to think of a new year resolution that cares for others in your phase (Reception, Key Stage1, Lower and Upper Key Stage 2). A resolution is when you decide, when you resolve, to do something differently to make a change for the better. The Golden Rule might help you think about a small change for the better in your class. Bring some ideas to share in phase assemblies tomorrow.
Be a word detective and see how many words you can learn.
When you read or listen to someone reading aloud, or in a conversation, take a second to notice new words.
Note it! Write it down or say it out loud and if you decide you do want to know what it means, do the following:
Think about what you do understand and know from the other words, the sentence or phrase - give it your best deduction (a deduction is an intelligent guess, one based on the evidence you have - the police are great at deducing, it's how they catch criminals!).
Ask someone else what it means or use a dictionary (if you haven't one at home, here's a link to an online dictionary)
Think about how close you were. It's remarkable how the rest of a phrase or sentence can help you be a super sleuth with words.
Try to find three times in the same day where you use the word in your writing or talking to someone else - this is the magic bit for learning the word and remembering it.