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Mr Lewis’ Blog: Welcome Back to Another Exciting Term

Posted: 17th January 2014 | Category: Headmaster's Blog

Dear Parents,

Time is life you know
All its footsteps to and fro
……………………………..In January snow

Well, Peter S Mason was wrong!  Rain has been the order of the day so far!

Haikus are short poems that use sensory language to capture a feeling or image. They are often inspired by an element of nature, a moment of beauty or a poignant experience. Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets and the form was adapted to English and other languages by poets in other countries.

Children like writing haikus as the structure (5-7-5 syllables) is so simple and they can illustrate their own poetry.  Haikus can cover any theme.  I particularly like the comic form as in the following:

 An octopus went
off to war. It’s a good thing
that he was well-armed.

The best way to carve
wood is extremely slowly:
whittle by whittle.
That is quite enough of that!

Welcome back after the Christmas break!  How time flew by! Many of the Senior children are in the throes of preparing for mock exams and are busy revising.  

Nevertheless, despite the inclement weather, there is a happy, warm buzz in the school and the smiling faces of the pupils certainly helps to alleviate the January Blues!

On Monday I spent a thoroughly worthwhile day at Wandsworth Prep School where the Southern Group of the Bellevue Schools held its termly Governance Meeting.  All the Heads take it in turn to deliver a presentation on one section of the school’s SEF – Self-Evaluation Form – which forms the evidence base of any ISI (Independent Schools’ Inspectorate) inspection.  There are three major sections so in a year we actually inspect ourselves which is a clever trick indeed!  This practice not only makes us as a school examine our procedures and achievements but also helps us focus on areas that we wish to improve.  It also gives the governors a chance to quiz the Heads and there is a free flow of ideas which leads to informed discussion.  With such a wealth of experience and creativity around the table, we bounce ideas off each other and take some really excellent thoughts, plans and resources back to our respective schools and teachers.  

Chris Sanderson was also present and brought us up to speed with the latest regulatory requirements as he had just attended the ISI Reporting Inspectors’ Conference.  Chris is Head of Gstaad International School but still finds time to be a Reporting Inspector – I certainly take my hat off to him!

While I was in town, Fiona, a graduate teacher in her own right (and my wife!), acted as my Supply Cover, and delivered an introductory lesson on a fabulous poet, Imtiaz Dharkar.  Her poem, “Blessing” is wonderful, thought-provoking and gives an insight to a very different culture to our own.  This is usually studied at GCSE but having piloted it with two Year 8 groups, I thought my Year 7s would appreciate the experience.  Imtiaz Dharker was born in 1954 to a Muslim family in Lahore, Pakistan. She grew up in Glasgow, where she studied Literature and Philosophy. She now lives in Bombay, India, where she works as a poet, artist, charity fund-raiser and film-maker.

'The scene of 'Blessing' is the largest slum in Asia — Dharavi, on the outskirts of Bombay. Bombay, or Mumbai, is the city of dreams. They've come from all over India and they're living in conditions which to anyone else would look squalid but to them it really is the hope of a better life. And because it is not an official living area there is a shortage of water. So when a pipe bursts, it's like a gift....

I love this poem!  It is simple and moving – it draws you into a very different world to Five Ashes on a dismal Wednesday afternoon!  Enjoy and get a glimpse of what we study in the Upper School!

The Blessing
The skin cracks like a pod.
There never is enough water.

Imagine the drip of it,
the small splash, echo
in a tin mug,
the voice of a kindly god.

Sometimes, the sudden rush
of fortune. The municipal pipe bursts,
silver crashes to the ground
and the flow has found
a roar of tongues. From the huts,
a congregation : every man woman
child for streets around
butts in, with pots,
brass, copper, aluminium,
plastic buckets,
frantic hands,

and naked children
screaming in the liquid sun,
their highlights polished to perfection,
flashing light,
as the blessing sings
over their small bones.

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