I am utterly indebted to the cooperation and cheerfulness of the Bedales students who have joined in wholeheartedly as we have kept our classes in Latin (and a bit of Greek) going! When we started in the latest lockdown I wasn’t sure how well we would get on – but we have all coped with the challenges of poor internet and strange work stations in our various homes (mainly by laughing when things go wrong – what else could we do?) Looking back over the past couple of months I am intrigued by the good progress we have made, in all the year groups from Block 3 to 6.2.
What’s made this happen? I can think of a few factors. The fact that Latin and Greek are ‘dead’ languages has helped – we don’t depend on the immediacy which is a key positive part of learning a modern language. There is the fact that in isolation students have had more time (with fewer distractions from other students around them!) to work at their own pace, and had the courage to ask for help whenever they needed it. Above all our progress has been helped by the sheer goodwill of all the students (and sympathetic and supportive parents – thank you!) right across the year-groups.
We have accepted that things would go wrong, technologically; we wait. We have coped with strange differences in time-zones and the issues that brings. We have accepted that working from home is challenging and if for any reason a student can’t find the set text book they used only two days before, we give them time to get it; and if it has been buried under something we find something else to do which usefully helps us make progress. And progress we have… to my delight (and relief, let’s be honest!)
I am looking forward to being back in a classroom and seeing students without strange backgrounds on their screens. It will, I admit, take some adjustments. But there has been more thriving than surviving and I hope that everyone involved – myself included – has come out of the experience with lots of lessons learned about how we learn and how we can motivate ourselves when we are ‘back to normal’, however the new normal looks.
And to close, here’s a challenge to all the Bulletin Readers. This is a passage from our Block 3 workbook, with a quiz at the bottom – put the sentences in the right order.
To help you, I am including Siena’s completed storyboard. Try it for yourselves!
In Wellbeing, we are taking the opportunity during online learning to delve into the practical strategies that we should all have in order to cultivate a resilient spirit. Resilience is at the heart of wellbeing. Over the coming weeks, Blocks 3-5 will be focusing on practising the five pillars of resilience; fostering healthy emotional and mental health strategies for life; learning to manage the uncomfortable and struggles in life; mindfulness practice; and connection and support.
All five pillars of resilience are crucial, but in the coming weeks we will focus on developing self-awareness, self-care and mindfulness practice in our Wellbeing sessions. This week, Bedalians have produced a ‘Wellness Jar’ detailing the activities they are going to do on a daily and weekly basis (plus emergencies and treats) in order to be resilient, thus developing healthy emotional and mental health for life. Have a look at my Wellness Jar below. Students have been asked to share the contents of the Wellness Jar with their loved ones.
Additional strategies for fostering resilience discussed in our Wellbeing lessons have included the importance of keeping routines going – including 9-10 hours of sleep, meal times, exercise, play, cognitively stimulating activities, work and relaxation – so that days have rhythm and structure and are not spent inactive. Endless time without structure, meaning and purpose is unhealthy for the body and mind.
There are a number of resources available for parents and teenagers for mental/emotional health issues. Young Minds has a free helpline for parents (0808 802 5544, available 9.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday), as well as a useful website. Helpful information can also be found on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. Young people can access support from helplines, text lines and online chat services at any time – Childline (0800 1111), Young Minds Crisis Messenger (text YM to 85258) and the Mix (0808 808 4994).
Wednesday was the first competitive hockey fixture of the season with the Block 3 side (pictured above) taking on Block 4. Both sides had started to show some good improvement during their training sessions, so this game arrived at a perfect time and the girls did not disappoint.
A competitive game in the best sense of the word saw both teams play with attacking intent and impressive levels of intensity, but ultimately it was the Block 4s’ ability to retain more possession and a better understanding of their team structure that saw them home as deserved winners. However, a re-match is in the pipeline, and with more exposure to the 11-a-side version of the game, it is likely that the Block 3s will pose an increasing level of challenge.
Block 3 have been prompted to reflect on ‘character’ from The Guardian article, The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months. For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels, history books and scientific research. But in the last 20 years, something extraordinary has happened. Scientists from all over the world have switched to a more hopeful view of mankind. As we are living through this unprecedented lock down and as our theme in Wellbeing for Block 3 this year is ‘empathy’ I felt this cross-curricular article would resonate with Bedalians. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other, and that we should always look for what is good and positive in people. As a Block 3 student reflects: “I enjoyed reading this article a lot. I found it very interesting and I enjoyed the expectations vs reality of it all. Books make it appear as if people being trapped on an island together will lose all sanity. Good to know that isn’t necessarily true!”
For Block 4’s theme on identity this year we have been exploring self-awareness and acceptance. Dr Brene Brown’s research and teachings permeate the entire Wellbeing curriculum provision at Bedales, so it was opportune to task students with watching her two TED talks. Dr Brown is perhaps best known for TEDx talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Recorded at an event in Houston in 2010, the talk is one of the five most popular in TED history, with more than 60 million views. It summarises a decade of Brown’s research on shame, vulnerability and courage.
By Phil Tattersall-King, Deputy Head (Co-curricular)
The connection between Petersfield Youth Theatre (PYT) and Bedales remains as strong as it always has been. Not only does Bedales help with provision of rehearsal space, there are always Bedales students and staff involved in the productions in some way.
In this year’s glorious production of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Block 4 student Rowena le Poer Trench took on the role of Susan, one of the four children who stumble through the fur coats into a different world where animals talk and time works differently. Rowena carefully showed her character’s increasing awareness and wisdom as the plot developed, always being genuine and utterly engaged in the fiction.
It’s been a hands-on week in Classics classes this week. Block 4 students have been putting the finishing touches to their miniature triumphal arch (pictured above), which they made last week from the same sand and cement mix that was made to use the Pantheon and Colosseum in Rome. The class has been studying major monuments – from Stonehenge to the Romans – and this was an opportunity to try their hand at the Roman technique of making a mould and filling it. It seemed a fitting way of wrapping up this module of study before they produce their extended essays.
To complement what we can learn in class and from books and the internet, the ‘Famous Five’ who make up this year’s Ancient Civilisations BAC cohort visited the neolithic – and now World Heritage – sites of Avebury Stone Circle, West Kennett Long Barrow and Stonehenge itself.
The weather held fair – well, mostly – but the opportunities to ‘connect’ with these extraordinary monuments constructed 4,500 years ago were seized to the full! All the sites provoked thought and deep reaction – one student commented “I found it interesting that people put the rocks there and we don’t know why”. Stonehenge itself provoked mixed reactions, from “smaller than I thought” to “bigger than I expected”!
At Avebury, there were several expressions of making a ‘spiritual connection’ with the place, especially at a tree marked with ribbons by New Age devotees. Perhaps the most memorable experience was ‘being spooked’ by going into a 5,000-year-old tomb at West Kennett, and then eating lunch on top of it, with vistas spreading all around and fine views of Silbury Hill.
By Cheryl Osborne, Teacher of Biology and Careers Advisor
The beginning of the new year seems a good opportunity to introduce myself. I am in charge of careers education and guidance at Bedales. This involves taking a careers activity with Block 4, introducing them to the world of work, and supporting Block 5 to make informed A Level choices.
We do this via My Future Careers online tests, which are followed by interviews. Block 5 are currently doing the tests and the interviews take place with external, independent advisors in October. These are then followed up by myself and tutors as Block 5 start to make their A Level choices. I also work with Sixth Form students who are interested in apprenticeships, as well as mentoring potential medics and vets.
This year I am working closely with Alex Beckmann (Alumni Relations Manager) in External Relations. We are hoping to offer students the opportunity to meet Old Bedalians to discuss their career paths.
Our first event is on Friday 11 October, when we have 4 Old Bedalians who work in the field of Media coming in. This event is open to any student at Bedales and we hope that students will take this amazing opportunity to find out about this career field.
The competition, which is held annually by the John Locke Institute, encourages young people to develop independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style by exploring a range of challenging and interesting questions. Essays are invited from students across seven subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.
Eben answered a question in Philosophy (“What is meaning? How much would it matter if we had none?”) while Will answered a question in Theology (“I believe in God. Which God should I believe in?”)
Both will now wait to hear whether they have been successful in their respective categories. There is a prize for the best essay in each category; each prize is worth £100, and the essays will also be published on the John Locke Institute’s website. The candidate who submits the best essay overall will also be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, worth £500.