I come back to this quote a lot. Whenever I feel like I am being bogged down by all the details of teaching, I return to it and it helps freshen my thinking and provides a clarity that has continually helped me over the years.
It can seem that we are always raising money; asking for a whole myriad of things for our community partners, from sponsorship, clothes, shoes or books. A few weeks ago as I once again sent the children home with sponsorship forms for the 10 KM forest walk, (soon to become a ragged and damp, crumpled mess in the bottom of their bags) to raise money for medication for the Abundant Life Home. It seemed such an ignominious start, the same, rather a dull request for cash. It is the monotonous letter, but it is the herald to what is a great and vital ambition, to “make our children more human.”
It cannot, of course, be just about the money or items collected. As far as possible any service activity must provide the children with a clear and manageable objective, one they understand. It must be challenging to invoke a sense of purpose and sacrifice, and it must be followed up with a tangible result.
So we went for a walk.
“It was very challenging for the year 4 group” Jacky
“It was challenging, but it was for a greater good” Shi-woo.
“We were raising money for our community partner” Hyemin
The walk was to challenge the children over both distance and terrain, it was hot and hard work, and many of them had to push themselves to keep going. They started finding that even when exhausted, they had so much more hidden reserves and, with a little encouragement and help from their friends: they found they had the strength to go on. The purpose or ‘greater good’ was to help the Abundant Life Home meet its requirements for daily medication for the children.
“It was very tiring, and we had to stop a few times! We learned about good exercise” Vanessa
“It was tiring, and I was so thirsty” Flynn
The day was bright and very lovely, many of the paths were littered with butterflies that flew up as the children passed. The more the children walked, the more they started appreciating the things they were seeing, they began looking around them and appreciating the forest. As legs grew weary, some started singing, and others turned philosophical.
“Poor people should have the same rights as rich people. Helping people is important.” Jano
The carpark finally came into view, and some very proud and very tired students rested on the grass and munched away on whatever snacks and lunch they had left. They had done it, and deserved a well-deserved rest and recognition with the awarding of our special Medal.
“I liked it because of the medals” Camille
“It was very fun, but tiring. I hope to do it again” Olivia
“It was really hard to walk that far, it was fun, I liked it!” Josh
“What an adventure! We should do it every year” Mr. Higgins.
“I am sure this was longer than last year!” Mr. Scott.
Hot on the heels of our Forest walk for the Abundant Life Home, we had the opportunity of spending some of the money we had previously raised for our second community partner, the orphanage Baan Jing Jai. Year four visited the orphanage over two days in Week 10 to weed the lawns and help prepare a framework which we festooned with flowers, all paid for and funded by previous donations. It was hot and hard work and made especially fun by many of the Baan Jing Jai children being around to help. We managed a sing-song, and we showed the children how to dance the Macarena, principally due to Ms. Steph’s mastery of the dance.
Working hard, pushing ourselves, sharing experiences, maybe we all became a little more human.
Jon Crew ,Head of Year 4