The week before term started in Autumn 2019 I visited Dacres Wood to deliver some materials, and as I cycled up to the gate I spotted a poster with a picture of a cat on it. LOST it read, REWARD if found. I recognised the cat, it was Ginger, the friendly mottled cat who had been a regular at Dacres Wood in our first year. Ginger was a little like the fox in the Little Prince to each child at Dacres Wood. There are even areas of the woods which are named after her use of them.
That evening as I mentioned this to a friend, I found myself crying. I don’t know if I was sad about the potential loss of ginger, or about the loss I anticipated the children would feel. Continue reading “Goodbyes”
On a tidy up time forest check walk with one of the children, we hear a sharp rasping sound. We both stop as we spot a squirrel running up a tree. We hold still. We often see squirrels at Dacres Wood, but this squirrel is up to something. It stops, freezes. It starts to bob its head. Its tale shivers. It suddenly calls out abruptly like 5 taps on a snare drum. We also freeze and observe it for about a minute until it scurries up the tree and disappears into the canopy. What was it doing? Continue reading “Ecologically minded – Part II”
Why are they sitting on the floor?
Why are their arms locked together?
What are they doing?
That policeman looks like he’s one of us. He’s just standing there watching.
What are those boxes for?
Why is he serving food?
Why is she dragging her feet? Does that hurt?
Why does that helicopter have two propellers? Continue reading “Ecologically minded – Part I”
A wonderful thing happened to me this spring. I got to spend six days with Rowan, Sally and the amazing children at Free We Grow. Actually I am in Dacres Wood right now. I can ‘be’ here, in this ‘lived moment’, in the here and now, in this beautiful space, and the children remind me to be in the ‘here and now’, ‘to be’ with them fully, and with what ever appears. Continue reading “A Wonderful thing happened to me this spring”
“I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behaviour is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning”. Carl Rogers
What a two years we’ve had at Dacres Wood (Nearly two years! We’ll celebrate at the end of this summer term). And what an opportunity it’s been to learn freely about ourselves, about others, and about our interests. I say ‘we’ because I can’t help but include Rowan and myself in the group of learners, and I think that this is just how things should be. Last week, Rowan and I were tidying up after pickup and stopped to admire some of the creations from the day… drawings, sketches and posters for the climate strike that took place on May 24th. Among the creations, Rowan had sketched a beautiful rhino, and I had painted a big blue whale, and we were both so proud! Continue reading “Self-discovered, self-appropriated learning”
It’s 8:30pm on a Monday evening and my WhatsApp pings. I receive this message from Sally:
For the treasure hunt: I was thinking of changing the ending of this Aesops fable so the grasshopper is grateful for a drink of wine and then leaves the owl to go to sleep. Continue reading “The owl that dared”
I want to talk about sharing our stories with the people around us. At Dacres Wood we don’t live in a vacuum. Every member of the community has a home life, things that they think about, issues they are grappling with, and things that they like to spend their time doing outside of our three days in the reserve. Continue reading “Show and Tell”
We need space, place and time to do the things we need and want to do. The conditions which we create to enable the creative or learning process have a direct impact on the process and the outcome. Continue reading “Space, place and time”
You may have noticed that Dacres Wood looked a little different after the summer holidays! In the reserve the leaves were starting to brown, the baby moorhens had grown fast, and berries, helicopters and conkers were appearing on the trees. But the biggest changes were to be seen indoors! Continue reading “The Third Teacher”
In preparation for the first day at Dacres’ Wood, I made a map to give to the children. The map was a sketch of the reserve made into a puzzle. I had named some of the main landmarks I could see and invited the children to explore the forest and find which is which. I knew at the time that this map would be temporary. That with time and play, names would change, places would morph, and legend would emerge. But little could prepare me for the richness, depth and intricacies of the meaning of place in the children’s world; and I challenge any cartographer to capture the contours of a world which shifts with season and story, dips through dimensions and holds the hand of imagination.