By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English
Photos by Matilda McMorrow, Librarian
In the English department at Bedales, we like to give students the opportunity to venture outside the classroom to gain a deeper understanding of literature. Over the last couple of years, we’ve visited Thomas Hardy’s cottage in Dorset while studying Tess of the D’Urbervilles; hosted a tea party as part of our work on The Importance of Being Earnest; enjoyed a midnight feast of exotic sensory delights to go with John Keats’ poem, The Eve of St Agnes; and held a fireside evening of poetry-by-heart for Block 3’s study of the oldest forms of English literature.
Our latest venture earlier this week gave a 6.1 English Literature class a first-hand experience of writing poetry in finest Hampshire mud. The set are studying Seamus Heaney’s first poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist, which includes lots of descriptions of water, slime and bogs. In order to get under the skin of poems that feature phrases such as ‘bubbles gargled delicately’ and ‘the squelch and slap of soggy peat’, it seemed like a good idea to don wellies (with thanks to Outdoor Work for lending some to white-trainered students) and wallow in the plentiful mud at Ashford Hangers Nature Reserve.
By Georgie du Boulay, Block 5
Photo by Jake Scott, Block 5
In early December, a group of Block 5 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) students ventured to Florence, Italy, along with Clare Jarmy, Al McConville, Alastair Harden and Nick Meigh.
On our first day, we took a coach to Siena, where we visited its cathedral and the Palazzo Pubblico, where we sat and discussed Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government – a series of three fresco panels which line three walls of the room in the palace where Siena’s chief magistrates, Sala dei Nove, held their meetings – with our upcoming utopia projects in mind.
For the rest of the trip we stayed in Florence, exploring the widely celebrated Le Gallerie Delgi Uffizi and other renowned Florentine cultural highlights, as well as visiting the Santa Croce Christmas market for some festive gift shopping!
By Eloise Cooper, 6.1
Last Saturday, a group of students – accompanied by Mary-Liz Houghton and Jo Mayhook-Walker – to see the Pre-Raphaelite Sisters exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
There, we were blown away by the richness of the art and the stories behind the famous paintings that defined the Pre-Raphaelite era of 1850-1900. Seeing the women of the Pre-Raphaelite movement’s stories being focused on was both a moving and fascinating experience. The realisation of how much poetry, art and inspiration these women contributed to the movement was incredible.
By Georgie du Boulay, Block 5
The 10-day Global Awareness trip to India at half term was one that will stay with the 17 students and three teachers who attended for the rest of their lives.
For the first three days, we were immersed in the dusty air and sun-baked atmosphere of Delhi sightseeing, which was jaw-dropping itself – yet nothing could compare to the timeless and unforgettable experience we had in McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsahla in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It was a brilliant introduction to volunteering! From the mass clean-up of the streets, to the eye-opening mutual learning with the Tibetan Refugees programme, each day was full of exciting activities that we had never done before.
By Alastair Harden, Teacher of Classics and Day Housemaster
For this year’s exchange visit to the Putney School in the United States, Chloe Hamill and I have escorted eight intrepid Bedalians as they shrug off a week’s recuperation in the October half term for a fortnight of honest toil in the Vermont countryside. The trip is part of an annual programme which places our students in a setting that draws enlightening points of comparison with what we offer at Bedales.
The Putney School’s entire structure is built around student responsibility, from washing the dishes to milking the cows, raking the leaves and sorting the recycling, in an educational environment where the onus is clearly on the students to manage their education alongside the smooth running of the community. Each year we look forward to this quiet hive for inspiration, and each year the students bring home big questions and big ideas.