The School recently hosted a group of Japanese students in the Primary School and High School. The students stayed with local families and attended classes with the children of their host families. The pictures below were taken on the student's final day, during a cultural presentation.
Under leaden skies, an intrepid group of Shearwater Class 4 students gathered on the bank of the Brunswick River at Mullumbimby's Heritage Park, last week, preparing for their 10km raft voyage to Brunswick Heads, the third such group, and the youngest, to make the journey in recent weeks. Beneath the watchful gaze of captains Harry Brown and Michael Lester, the children boarded their vessel, looking something like a bundle of giant pick-up sticks tangled up in a fishing net, and set sail on the tuning tide, under a heavy downpour, waving gallantly to their bedraggled farewell party, brimming with the spirit of adventure. The following is an excerpt from the ship’s log…
We had a little reprieve from the showers of the day to get started amidst squealing excitement at 8am. Harry had tidied the already proven craft for its current voyage. We strapped a few extra bamboos on the outriggers and adjusted the net. Finally, the mast and sails went up and we looked serious - well, ready for a few laughs once the tide provided the progress. Back-up vehicles were launched and loaded, then the scurvy crew embarked with much enthusiasm, albeit tainted with a scurrilous doubt or two.
It took a little while for the tide to turn and progress seemed tentative at first, the calls to shore finally faded as the current lead us seaward. It was amazing how quickly familiar bearings were lost and the river itself was the focus. Around a few bends and we were certainly in the realm of the early explorers, highlighted by the return of showers of rain, which shut us off in our own little world. Suddenly there was repeated an eerie call from above as a nesting sea eagle sang her enjoyment to see the children having so much fun in her leafy domain.
Then the rain really set in accompanied with blue lips and chattering teeth. Ah, the perils of adventures! Admirable Admiral Nic Thorne hooked us up to his craft and towed us deftly onward within reach of our destination. The sun briefly came out, the raft became a playground in the middle of the river, away from signs of human habitation. The final tow to the boat ramp at Brunswick was easy, although the outgoing tide had quite a pull to it. The Heads emitted an alluring call! There have been rafting expeditions that have survived the Pacific…
The wonders of being able to catch ourselves in the midst of our teaching programs and be open to stepping outside for a fresh experience, particularly one which unifies a class, enabling them to better learn together. Education is a cultural experience, stronger for its social connections.
A rafting expedition ties many things together (apart from the bamboo), offering an experience of our local environment from a different perspective; demonstrating the use of local resources; experiencing the dynamics of tidal effects first-hand; providing an experience of point of view from the limitations of sea level and teaching inclusion in a very practical way.
Class 4 Teacher
The wonderful 11- and 12-year-olds in our Class 6 are full of enthusiasm, gusto and curiosity about the world. They are a dynamic and vibrant class with some very strong opinions on the injustices in their immediate environment, and are delving into the outer world loudly albeit innocently.
We began our year with the ancient Roman Empire and all the vigour, war, power and law that came with this civilisation. The children sang, marched and wrote personal reviews on the events of the times. They worked on projects of their choosing from this time and painted pictures.
Complementing this study period, the children worked with Primary workshop assistant Marcia Gibbs, during their afternoon block lesson, on a group mosaic that now adorns our verandah (see image above).
Class 6 then sailed off into their Oceans of the World Main Lesson, during which they explored the geography and qualities of the oceans, through writing, painting and verse. Working in small groups, the children wrote poems, songs and raps and presented these to the class. It was wonderful to see our up and coming rappers, complete with costumes, educating us on their oceanic discoveries!
Currently Class 6 is delving into the world of percentages with their natural curiosity - a challenge to be understood, absorbed and conquered… so very Roman.
Personal clay projects help them wind down during the afternoon block lesson, as they each create a swan terrarium. It is fantastic to see them once again take to their work with enthusiasm, devotion and love.
Class 6 Teacher
The Primary School held its Autumn Festival, marking this week's equinox, on Wednesday. Before a display of abundance from the School's Farm and gardens, Class 4 students proudly handed over four kilograms of wheat, from their own harvest, to the current Class 3 students, who will plant the seed in the spring.
The Year 11 English Studies class have been hard at work investigating their heritage as they create their own interpretation of a family tree. Many students have found out all sorts of fascinating stories about their past - one going back 15 generations, and some even finding long lost relatives that they’ve made contact with. Researching their own family stories allows the students to better understand who they are in the world. After doing this and interviewing some close friends and family, students go on to write their own autobiographical story. It has been such a heartwarming experience witnessing this journey of self-discovery.
High School English
As part of the Short Story unit, Year 9 was lucky enough to take part in a workshop with local children's book author, Zanni Louise. Students learned about Aristotle's three-act structure - a model used in narrative fiction that divides a story into three parts, often called the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution. They worked on their story ideas and applied their learning to the development of their own work. A great opportunity provided by the Byron Writer's Festival for students to hone their skills and have contact with published authors. Interested students from some year groups will be able to attend the festival later in the year.
High School English
Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition, drawn from the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamics has much in common with other organic methods, using manures and composts instead of artificial chemicals. However, according to the Biodynamic Association of North America, biodynamics is "not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life". Biodynamics informs much of the work that happens on our amazing 52 acre property in Mullumbimby.
One of the events that takes place each year, in partnership with Biodynamic Northern Rivers (BNR), is the preparation of horn manure, in which cow horns are filled with fresh cow manure and buried in a pit for the winter, to harvest the earth forces. These horns are then dug up in spring and the manure is diluted with water to make a potent soil activator known as 500. Every year, we spray 500 on the school grounds with the assistance of children, parents and staff. A thumbnail-sized piece is enough to treat one acre of land. How does it work? By encouraging soil microorganisms and helping build top soil. This is a very potent and inexpensive way to heal and fertilise the earth.
This Friday, March 23, all students from Preschool, Primary and High School are invited to join in with the filling of the horns and the singing of the songs. We also would like to extend this invitation to the wider Shearwater community, especially parents. If you don't want to get your hands dirty you are welcome to just come and watch.
Ideally horn manure burial would take place on an earth moon, in a waning phase (after full moon), with a descending aspect (returning to the southern hemisphere). This week's moon is in Taurus (an earth sign) and it will be descending but waxing. However the next earth moon will be too far into winter.
The burial will happen at the back of the School property, near the big Coolamon tree. Please bring a plate of food if you would like to help pack up and join BNR members for lunch at the Biodynamics Shed, on the School Farm, when you will also have an opportunity to become a BNR member.
To became a member of BNR call Mani on 66843304 to request a form. Membership is $24 per year and includes 20 grams of horn manure preparation and four seasonal newsletters plus the opportunity to join monthly biodynamic working bees on members' properties. The group also is looking for someone to manage their Facebook page. To buy preparations please email Uta Wight at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nadia de Souza Pietramale and Kaye Groves
The new year and Term 1 are in full swing here at Rosewood Cottage Playgroup as we welcome new families and 'old' friends alike.
© Shearwater The Mullumbimby Steiner School