Whilst John Badley’s view on earth closets, admired from afar by Tolstoy in a private letter, no longer prevails, his adamant views on learning through doing certainly do – and this is the season for seeing such a powerful educational tenet at close hand.
Taking a brisk walk around the Estate on Tuesday in the company of the fleet-footed Peter Coates, I see the BAC Outdoor Work projects at close hand and interrogate the makers and doers of Block 5 about their handiwork on their projects’ completion. So here are Alex H, Chris B and Fergus P caressing their proud Land Rover; it’s been a long haul and much has been learnt about its trusty mechanical guts. Just the bonnet to come. Wander towards where the chickens used to be and there is the loveliest of bee huts, where Issy and Tilly C have done painstaking and thoughtful work, restoring the hut and the bees; they even have their beeswax products on display. Then, quick, zip over to the Kadian Observatory to find Nav, Xav, and Tamara: how did you manage those round walls? 1,000 bricks? And yes, I can see how the brick-laying improves as the wall grows. Sadly, we don’t have enough time to explore the glories of the walnut door or the mechanical operation of the dome.
In Drama it has been neat adrenalin time for the 6.1s as they bring their AS scripted pieces to fruition. This is serious doing and making as well, even if it is a bit more evanescent, but there’s a different kind of glory. Sunday afternoon and I was seeing the process in action, calling in on three of the groups as they rehearse in drama studio, gym and theatre. Head of Drama, Phil King has brought in author and director, Chris Thorpe to provide fresh eyes in these crucial stages, so adding to the good work already done by Phil and Jay Green. Seeing the finished products on Wednesday night and talking to some of the students about the process that was going on over the weekend, I am struck by the pride taken in effort committed, advice taken and the final things themselves – 6 powerfully gripping short plays that hold the audience and show how far these students have travelled through this particular learning voyage. It is a very similar sense of having learnt through doing that I encountered in my Outdoor Work tramp: I suspect in both cases the students will retain a very strong and positive sense of the fulfilment of their own work well done.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
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.