Thursday, August 25, 2016

My creative life


Please go listen to me and Karen Andrews having a yarn at The Creative Life podcast... And know this: we kept talking for another two hours after Karen turned the microphone off.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Una's letter

To Mr ____,

I very strongly believe that students at our school should be allowed to be in a strong relationship with each other. This, in other words, is having a boyfriend or girlfriend.

A lot of boys and girls in our school have a boyfriend or girlfriend. However, teachers spoke to their students about us not being allowed to anymore. I think this is outrageous! I have some reasons to support my thoughts.

My first reasons is, I think it helps us practice handling big emotions. When we are older, we will become more serious about it, but in the meantime, we should practice. We need to know what to do with them. No teacher expects a prep child to be able to read in a day, right? They need to PRACTICE! And so do we with big emotions like the ones some of us have!

My second reason is, love is, of course, a normal part of life! Almost every human being loves someone at the very least ONCE in their life! And so children at our school do too!

And my third and final reason is that it is certainly not necessary to feel ashamed about the emotions you have toward someone else! I think it is disappointing that our lovely school would turn down something like that!

Concluding, I hope that you will agree with me and make sure we take away this terrible rule.

Sincerely,
Una  
Last term at my kids' school, the grades fives and sixes were talked to by their teachers about 'boyfriends' and 'girlfriends'. In line - most likely - with most primary schools, the official position was that primary school students are too young to have relationships*. While the rule is mostly around public displays of affection, it seemed to Una that the rule was too broad and applied to all definitions of 'a relationship' (remember in primary school 'going together' didn't necessarily mean touching), and she came home and wrote this letter. She's given me permission to post it here.

Edited
I had previously written a longer blog post about some unintended consequences of this rule, the fact that by making bans, students may not feel safe to access support and guidance from teachers and school leaders in matters of interpersonal relationships. It was brought to my attention that, by writing about a specific situation Una was in might lead to people in the community identifying a particular boy. While I feel no judgment or animosity against any child, I'd hate for people to think I was finger-pointing, and so I've eliminated that story from this blog. I will only say that it has been resolved with help from the school.

However, I will stand by this: I believe strongly that instead of shutting down conversations by making bans or denying some students' feelings, students need to be given vocabulary to deal with their feelings. The simple and key message here, to me, is 'no means no'. Students can and should, be given the language and communication skills to negotiate interpersonal relationships, including consent. A clear message that 'no means no' helps any student not ready for 'crushes' to set a clear boundary, and offers institutional support to all students. It also sets girls and boys up for more complex scenarios later.

I have worked hard with this school over the past two years to help them communicate their strengths. I advocate for this school because I believe in the community. It's a great school, and I feel lucky that my kids have such a strong and caring place - think how safe and trusting Una must have felt to write this brave letter. I'd hate for anything I wrote to reflect poorly on the school. I believe in the values of the school, and I think this letter encompasses them. I also believe in authentic student voice - these are Una's own words and her own values, and I respect her for writing this letter.

I posted this on my blog because I was proud of Una, and because I think she's right, and because I felt it spoke to a broader conversation about young people's rights and responsibilities, and I find her views offer a balanced, and refreshing, perspective.

*I was later told this is not an official position of the school and it was only Una's class that had this talk.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Monday, 6.30pm

Avery: God is everywhere. God’s in the air. God’s on my pizza.
Martin: Who told you that?
Avery: A boy who knows everything. A boy in my class.
Penni: Oh, yeah? Cool. Who?
Avery: Mason.
Penni: Right. And do you believe that god is everywhere?
Avery: Yes. I believe God is real.
Penni (to Una): What do you believe?
Una: Greek gods.
Avery: I don’t believe in pies though. I don’t believe pies are real.
Martin: You believe in God, but you don’t believe in pies?

Avery: Get off my foot God. God! Get off the roof! It’s dangerous up there.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

High School

It takes the time it takes:
a slow growth that appears
suddenly. She is more than the sum
of her days minutes and hours,
the trickle of weeks, the fluttering years,
the incalculable mathematics of her concern
about her hair which flicks up at the ends,
it will never be all right I want to say
but that's my lesson to learn not hers.
Her bag weighs more than a small child



Monday, December 28, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How bodies work

"There's human people that live in your body, there is because I know there is. They live in your body because they are servants doing everything the brain tells them to do. The brain is the master human."

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Figure and Ground

Refigure yourself, hurrying down the corridor,
past the shadowy objects. Too late
to name anything now. It’s all spoken for.

The chair in the hallway speaks for itself. 
"You are not alone," it says. "The purpose of things
is not the meaning of things." This is a recording.

Into the garden then, where what lies lost is overgrown:
the other chair, wild with the language of soil,
the message is the matter. A fistful, a bowlful.

The birds are thoughts that the trees are having,
each one a variation on a theme. Hurry on,
through the garden and out of the gate.

This is where the fields are endless,
a strawless yellow, days without texture,
vanishing, this is where I leave you.