Class 4

Met with darkness and coolness in outer nature this week, the call to slow down, reach inwards and reflect on the semester that is now drawing to its end has presided in my soul. In this place of reflection, it was interesting to see the theme of self-care so as to be in service to others, appear time and time again.

Class 4 began the year with the story of Tora Hart who learnt to lay gold on scarlet cloth, spin flax so strong it rang like a harp string, weave webs so fine they went into a finger ring and grow herbs and make ointments from them so as to look after people who were sick or had injuries that needed healing.

From this imaginative picture, the class began a PDHPE program of self-care, to nurture the physical, social and emotional changes they were experiencing, and utilised these new capacities to help others. The children wove fleece baskets in which to store compresses, nail clippers, hair brushes, rose sphagni and hand-felted cherry pip/lavender/chamomile bags.

They learnt to offer hand tinkles, make cups of herbal teas to support a sense of wellbeing, and apply warming accessories, like slippers, belts, ear muffs and capes to soothe their nervous systems or comfort another who might be feeling ill. They also took time out for foot baths and quiet rest, gazing upon nature’s beauty, to quieten their souls. These activities were supplemented with seasonal stories and stories portraying human striving, as well as imaginative pictures of the twelve virtues. We shared experiences that supported a culture of care, resilience and empathy in the classroom, soon learning that this was a practice that needed daily renewal.

Our gaze then turned to the ancient Norse peoples who were imbued with a sense of adventure and courage to face and overcome life’s vicissitudes through the power of their own developing ego. We learnt of the Norns, weavers of destiny, and the antics of the gods, delighting in the mischievous nature of Loki, so reflective of the children’s own phase of development, and they marvelled at Odin’s all-seeing eye, so like their teacher’s eye-in-the-back-of-the-head! Through these mythologies, the children are gradually being guided towards the twilight of the gods, where all seems lost. But in these darkest moments, there is always a pathway forward for humanity and, in Norse mythology, this leads to the birth of a new world, one that will lay the foundation for human independence and freedom. But this, in our class, is yet to come…

After the boisterous and robust mythologies of the Norse peoples, our Local Geography lesson planted gentler seeds and the possibility to recognise the interdependence of all living things, with gratitude for the beauty of nature and a sense of stewardship for the earth. Dreamtime stories lay the foundation for these lessons, providing pictures of this vast land, the dome of the sky and the place of the sun, moon and stars in our daily lives – of day and night and the seasons.

We explored the School site with new eyes, considering the ways people, places and environments interact, and the differing values people hold in relation to this. We considered the lives of early settlers and, in acknowledgement of the children’s place in the local community, family trees were created and stories of family members shared. This project served to deepen the children’s understanding of changes in family and community life over time, highlighting how their roots have come to be planted into this land that they now share custodianship of. The lesson concluded with an age-appropriate picture of the Uluru Statement, through the story, ‘Finding our Heart’, and the weaving of an artistic contribution, representative of healing the land, for Reconciliation Week.

These studies of earlier generations highlighted how much of our available time each day is no longer dedicated to survival but can be used for other purposes, like playing or learning a hobby. In these times, it is easy to fill our day with non-essential tasks. But for the children, every subject taught at School is deemed essential for their future health and wellbeing and for that of society. Every subject is equal in its value, contributing to the holistic growth of the child and, through imaginative pictures, the children are developing feelings for justice, beauty, truth, interconnectedness to plants and nature that need our respect, social awareness, empathy and the sense that there is something higher than human personality that needs humanity’s devotion and dedication.

This solstice, as we gather under the starry heavens, may our hearts be filled with wonder and the sense of something higher. May there be quiet introspection and the birth of new hope as we unite to walk a healing path in service to self, our children, our community and humanity… and may the beautiful young souls of Year 12 take their leave with a humble yet strong sense of self, blazing with fiery passion for a new world.

Heather Peri
Class 4 Teacher