Seven years ago, 24 children ‘crossed over the bridge’ to commence their journey together as Class 1H. After receiving a rose they reverently entered the classroom, waiting patiently for the candle to be lit and the first of many stories from the main lesson, “The Flight of the Shearwater,” to be told. Now, at the end of their Primary School journey, the students are once again listening to these stories with a sense for the numinous, only this time there is a conscious exploration into the archetypal aspects these reveal, as well as the opportunity to create their own tales as a means of knowing themselves better.
Through story that fed young souls and deeds of love and consideration, the foundation for our journey together was established. Practicing making a place for the other in our class community through compassion, understanding, generosity of spirit, patience, courtesy and deep listening, whilst also becoming more and more comfortable with oneself, has enabled diverse individuals to become socially cohesive and experience belonging.
More students were able to be welcomed into the class over the years and recently these fine young souls joined with Class 7S on a camp at Moreton Island in preparation for their shared high school journey together under the guardianship of Justin Isaac and Gabrielle Karkkainen. This extended class community also celebrated the completion of their Primary School journey and the beginning of their High School journey together, last week, with a formal dinner and dance. It was with great warmth and love for each individual that, along with Sally Davison and Julieanne Ralph, I bore witness to each student crossing this threshold to form a united, wider community that will make their way together through the High School years.
Founded upon the highest human ideals of truth, beauty and goodness, Steiner Education endeavours to support the development of integrated human beings who, through their individual strengths, gifts and passions can create new ways of meeting with others from diverse backgrounds. It is an education that nourishes hope for the future and every member of the school community plays a role in this, through the way we meet, the warmth we envelop others with, the acceptance for diversity we demonstrate, the tolerance we show to one another and the interest we have in each other. As a community of adults surrounding and guiding young souls we all carry the responsibility for a better world. As these two classes become one, opportunities for individuals to mentor and show an interest in their journey will present and I encourage you to engage in these.
My final days with Class 7H will include a camp, a farewell assembly and nebulous stories imbued with words of wisdom. My final offering for the community is also a story: “The Story of the Fairy Tale” by Carl Ewald. I hope it inspires you to strive for a community that listens deeply to each other so that humanity may hold onto what is true.
“Once upon a time, ever so many years ago, Truth suddenly vanished from out of the world. When people perceived this, they were greatly alarmed and at once sent five wise men in search of Truth. They set out, one in this direction and one in that, all plentifully equipped with traveling expenses and good intentions. They sought for ten long years. They they returned, each separately. While still at a distance, they waved their hats and shouted that they had found Truth.
The first stepped forward and declared that Truth was Science. He was not able to finish his report, however, for before he had done, another thrust him aside and shouted that that was a lie, that Truth was Theology and that he had found it. Now while these two were at loggerheads - for the Science man replied to the attack vigorously - there came a third who said, in beautiful words that Love was Truth, without a doubt. Then came the fourth and stated, quite curtly, that he had Truth in his pocket, that it was Gold, and that all the rest was childish nonsense. At last came the fifth. He could not stand on his legs, gave a gurgling laugh, and said that Truth was Wine.
Then the five wise men began to fight, and they pummelled one another so lustily that it was horrible to see. Science had its head broken, and Love was so greatly ill-treated that it had to change its clothes before it could show itself again in respectable society. Gold was so thoroughly stripped of every covering that people felt awkward about knowing it, and the bottle broke and Wine flowed away into the mud. But Theology came off worst of all. Everybody had a blow at it and it received such a beating that it became the laughing stock of all beholders.
And people took sides, some with this one and some with that, and they shouted so loud that they could neither see nor hear for the din. But far away, at the extreme end of the earth, sat a few who mourned because they thought that Truth had gone to pieces and would never be made whole again
Now , as they sat there, a little girl came running up and said that she had found Truth. If they would just come with her - it was not very far - Truth was sitting in the midst of the world, in a green meadow.
Then there came a pause in the fighting, for the little girl looked so very sweet. First one went with her; then another; and ever more.. At last, they were all in the meadow and there discovered a figure the like of which they had never seen before. There was no distinguishing whether it was a man or a woman, an adult or a child. Its forehead was pure as that of one who knows no sin; its eyes deep and serious as those of one who has read into the heart of the whole world. Its mouth opened with the brightest smile and then quivered with a sadness greater than any could describe. Its hand was soft as a mother’s and strong as the hand of a king; its foot trod the earth firmly, yet crushed not a flower. And then the figure had large, soft wings, like the birds that fly at night.
Now as they stood there and stared, the figure drew itself erect and cried, in a voice that sounded like bells ringing:
“I am Truth!”
“It’s a Fairy Tale!” said Science.
“It’s a Fairy Tale!” cried Theology and Love and Gold and Wine.
Then the five wise men and their followers went away, and they continued to fight until the world was shaken to its centre. But a few old and weary men and a few young men with ardent and eager souls and many women and thousands of children with great wide eyes remained in the meadow where the Fairy Tale was.
May we always recognise Truth in story and may seekers of Truth feel nourished by this school community.
Wishing you deep peace,
Class 7 Teacher
Year 8 has just returned from a magical camp on beautiful North West Island, surrounded by pristine turquoise waters and an amazing reef. We observed turtles nesting, walked around the island, snorkelled and went tubing and skurfing behind the school boat. The students created wearable art garments from nature and the recycling bin. Billy ran 120 kms - 25 times around the island in one day! We saw tiger sharks, lion-fish and octopi and swam with stingrays and turtles, and we discovered many other species of fish.
We tried to save some of the shearwater birds from the pisonia or "birdcatcher" tree (the seeds of which are so sticky they are known for fatally entangling birds seeking insects that feed on the fruit) and nursed chicks blown out of the nest after a windy night.
We were accompanied by a excellent team of teachers and parents, who shared their skills and knowledge with the students. Greg, one of Shearwater’s maintenance crew, who also happens to be a marine biologist, shared a wealth of information about marine life and currents, as well as information on the reef and the changes brought about by climate change. Josh organized an epic treasure hunt, which sent the students running all over the island to find clues. Grant shared his knowledge of turtles and sea birds and engaged the students in a guessing game as to how many loggerheads and green turtles nested on the island each night. Emma brought a wealth of outdoor education skills to the camp, from sun safety to snorkeling to volleyball and cricket and the ‘Ooga Booga’ game! (You had to be there!). Anna fed us sumptuous camp food from sushi, curry, dips and crackers to pancakes, rice paper rolls and cacciatore. Nick was the man who had everything camping and fishing (and a sewing kit) and Margaret and Luke were a gentle but firm support throughout and always there when we needed them.
A hearty thank you to all our remarkable students and our wonderful team.
April Galetti and Tony Van den Driest
Year 8 Guardians
Earlier this term, five brave young autodidacts from our graduating class were awarded the Shearwater Certificate - marking the end of a year-long journey in self-directed education, and an alternative pathway to the HSC.
The students presented their stories, all different but with a common theme: responsibility for their actions, reactions and inactions as a maturing experience. Dubbed ShearX by the students, the presentation night was in effect a discussion with their teachers and mentors who would endeavor to investigate how this journey of self education unfolded for the five.
Zuki Lammerton who was keen to find herself in this new school, and in life, created and completed five costumes for the recent Wearable Arts on her journey to learn to sew.
Edan Agam Rom, with his excursion into film and music, moved between various genres and story, directed his own film and played a self-composed score.
Dylan Leng developed a sports diet to accommodate free diving and marathon running, amid a raised consciousness around food for fitness
Jason Howarth, who completed an early entry unit at Southern Cross University with a distinction this year, began with an initial concept of a website design/blog/photography project, which metamorphosed into an interest in motivational speaking.
Lorien Hays' project was in website design, advertising and graphic arts. Lorien, who also completed a unit at SCU via Head-Start, for which he received a High Distinction, also developed a small company with some friends and was accepted into SAE in Melbourne along the way.
The route these young folk have embarked on, although not traditional, is increasingly being seen as a acceptable pathway to academia, as tertiary institutes and employers look more toward portfolios of achievement, not to mention a wonderful way for those inclined to use their senior school years to pursue careers or destiny ambitions.
ABC news recently ran a story about the future of schooling, which featured a Year 12 from Linuwel Steiner school in Maitland, which does not offer the HSC pathway to its students, who built a tiny house in Year 12 as part of her major work project.
(who just happened to be fortunate enough to be asked to keep an eye out and encourage their perseverance)
A year at Preschool is a journey shared with each child, their family and educators. We have had an amazing year and, as the children have grown, so has the Preschool - into a flourishing, nurturing space where everyone has a part to play.
As the end of the year rushes towards us, we endeavour to create space for quiet reflection. It is important for the young child to maintain a steady rhythm, with plenty of rest, which will hold them in good stead over the holiday season.
We have some big changes in staffing underway for 2019, with the much respected and admired Danni Noad, Sandy Dobbins and Karen McKinnon all finishing with us at Preschool at the end of the year. It is too difficult to put into words what Danni, Sandy and Karen have added to our Preschool community in their time with us. They are much loved and will be greatly missed. I am sure that the fortunate children and families who have gotten to know them will feel the same. We wish all three the very best for the future and the best of luck for their new endeavours.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to each and every one of the families and children that create our Little Shearwater community. For the children going on to Kindergarten, we will be giving you lots of waves over the Preschool fence when we see you next year! I wish each family an enjoyable holiday season.
Class 7 formally graduated from Primary School last week, with a ceremony to hand students from both classes over to their new High School Guardians, Gabrielle and Justin, who will guide, mentor and be responsible for their pastoral care for the next five years. The event celebrated the completion of the Primary School journey and acknowledged and witnessed the passage of these students from Primary to High School.
Fresh from a combined camp to Moreton Island, the two classes enjoyed plenty of opportunities to build new connections, alongside their Class Teachers and new Guardians. One of the camp's highlights was the Island Wearable Art challenge where groups worked to create garments made of found items from nature, exhibiting astonishing creativity, terrific team work and great care and attention to detail. A blazing catwalk and guest judges completed the occasion.
A wonderful year group full of bubbling potential, we wish them well on their forward journey and thank their Class Teachers Heather Peri, Julieanne Ralph and Sally Davison. Heartfelt thanks also to the parents, staff and students who contributed to making the Class 7 formal an event to remember.
As part of the School's ongoing commitment to restoring and protecting our sensitive creek habitat, Shearwater Class 7 students have been learning how to survey and monitor the water quality of the creek.
Class Teacher Sally Davison and Gardener Nadia de Souza Pietramale recently took part in a WaterPlaces training course thanks to Tamara Smith MP, who sponsored one teacher's participation from her own salary. The course, designed to provide community members with the skills to care for their own water places, was facilitated by Dr Mary Gardener and provided training in how to survey, test for and calculate water health and how to develop an action plan, bringing together Aboriginal, scientific and place-based ecological knowledge.
The School has since purchased our own water quality monitoring equipment to allow us to regularly check the physical and biological indicators of water quality, such as pH, dissolved O2, TDS, temperature and macro-invertebrate, in our own water places and others.
Shearwater students proudly showed their year's work to families and friends during the School's annual Open Day at the end of November - a breathtaking display of colour, creativity, beauty and incredible energy.
Last week, 11 of our elite Shearwater chess players attended their final interschool chess tournament for 2018, at St Joseph's Primary School in Alstonville. With over six different schools and various age divisions competing, our students showed great talent and exceptional manners in what turned out to be another fantastic social event. Their energy and effort resulted in some fantastic achievements, evidence of their continuous cycle of strategic learning.
© Shearwater The Mullumbimby Steiner School