O is for Outdoors
So I stood in for half a term at a school - teaching music, speech and drama - and was still there five years later!
It was a private (mostly boarding) school for children and young adults from 3-18 years. I did the 3-11 yr olds.
What struck me when I started was the inability of nearly all the children to have an original thought, and theatrical improvisation was a non-starter. What depressed me more was the low self-esteem of my 7-11 year olds. If you want to know more, then may I suggest that you don’t ask me! I can talk passionately and for a very long time about this subject so close to my heart.
You’ll read about how J.D. Salinger made a profound effect on my life under ‘S’ later on. But another author who changed my life was Richard Bach. His book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ should be read by every child – or rather, it should be read to every child by someone who understands the deeper meaning and nuances of the story.
Before my 11 year olds left me to go to the senior part of the school, I used to do a couple of end of term lessons where I would get them (often with difficulty) to celebrate what they were good at. So many of them (particularly the non-sporty or non-academic ones) didn’t realise or recognise that ‘being a good listener’ or ‘being kind and honest’ or ‘being a good friend’ were great and special gifts.
I also read all my 11 year olds ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ – pausing often to ask things like ‘what do you think that means?’ and encouraging them to interrupt if they wanted to comment, or ask a question.
As these ‘end of term’ sessions were always in the summer, and as the school had the most beautiful grounds, we would assemble outside and they would form a semi-circle around me – glued to every word. I was reprimanded on more than one occasion. The headmaster wanted all lessons to be in the classroom. He thought that children got distracted (yes, my kids in rapt attention) if they were out of the classroom.
I just did what my heart was telling me was right. I think I spent more time in the headmaster’s study being told off than the children did. Gave me loads of brownie points though! I still remember all my lovely children. I hope I made a small difference to their lives.
O is for Outside World
I’ve been out today! I was seriously concerned (no, really) that I had become an agoraphobic recluse. Then I thought about it rationally (exhausting) and then I realised that I’m not frightened to go out of the house – I just can’t be arsed coz of the weather. Then I realised that I’d be rubbish at being a recluse because I love people and chatting to them.
So I went OUT – you know, OUTSIDE and into town. Gales and rain and cold. I’m back home now and thinking that maybe being an agoraphobic recluse is not so bad after all!