How breaks in rou­tine can in­spire and en­cour­age

Fred de Falbe, head of Bee­ston Hall School, on a dif­fer­ent face of the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

EDP Norfolk - - FROM THE HEADMASTER’S OFFICE - bee­ston­

Va­ri­ety is the spice of life! This well-worn adage holds true for six-year-olds, just as it does for 60-year-olds. How do we ful­fil it in an ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ment, where rou­tines and rhythms are equally im­por­tant watch­words?

Chil­dren need chances to ex­plore their world and ex­pand their hori­zons, as well as to en­gage in the all-im­por­tant busi­ness of prac­tis­ing and re­peat­ing, of try­ing and fail­ing, of try­ing again and suc­ceed­ing. Like all schools, there are struc­tures at Bee­ston, but the in­evitable breaks in these – or un­ex­pected changes – are what can in­spire and en­cour­age.

One way in which we do this is through the reg­u­lar lec­tures that we open up to par­ents and vis­it­ing schools, as well as Bee­ston chil­dren, to pro­voke ques­tions and in­spire the imag­i­na­tion. One re­cent ex­am­ple of this was lis­ten­ing to the ad­ven­turer An­to­nia Bol­ing­brokeKent talk about her epic jour­neys, criss-cross­ing Asia on Ting Tong the tuk-tuk and Hero the mo­tor­cy­cle.

As she took us through the East­ern Himalayas we were en­tranced by the tales of head­hunters and an­i­mal sac­ri­fice, just as we were by An­to­nia’s sto­ry­telling, keep­ing an au­di­ence – both old and young – spell-bound. From an­i­ma­tions of the In­dian and Eurasian tec­tonic plates crash­ing to­gether 50 mil­lion years ago, to roast rats and bats and griz­zled tribes­men, there was an over­rid­ing mes­sage I wholly en­dorse; it’s about mak­ing con­nec­tions, about get­ting be­yond one’s com­fort zone, about trust­ing in­stinct, about the way smiles and kind­ness tran­scend lan­guage bar­ri­ers and dif­fer­ence.

Not only was it a blis­ter­ingly good show, full of fun and wis­dom, it pro­voked the most bril­liant ques­tions and laid foun­da­tions of aspi­ra­tion and won­der in the chil­dren.

Another as­pect of this is one which we em­pha­sise again and again – role-modelling. The chil­dren saw com­mit­ment and en­durance on dis­play; re­source­ful­nees and re­silience.

They saw nerves and courage too, which has a par­tic­u­lar im­pact be­cause all our chil­dren in Year 8 de­liver, solo, their own leaver’s lecture to par­ents and pupils, about a topic which fas­ci­nates them. The re­sult has been some re­mark­able pre­sen­ta­tions, about sub­jects as var­ied as veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and Bit­coin, DNA or the North Pa­cific Gyre, or the is­sues sur­round­ing am­bidex­ter­ity or OCD, echolo­ca­tion or bull-fight­ing.

Not only do the chil­dren have a fine ex­am­ple from which to learn, they grow me­tres in min­utes as they see the re­sults of their well-re­searched, well-il­lus­trated projects cap­ture the imag­i­na­tions of their lis­ten­ers. Sud­denly all the fruits of class­room ac­tiv­ity and story-telling come to­gether, as the ben­e­fits of prac­tice and rep­e­ti­tion trans­late into what is a mo­ment of vic­tory.

The chil­dren ex­ceed their own ex­pec­ta­tions and con­quer their nerves. Watch­ing this is a priv­i­lege – there is noth­ing quite like it – and, though per­fec­tion is never sought, this most au­then­tic of learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences is be­yond compare.

Come and see for your­self at Bee­ston Hall School – ar­range a per­sonal visit on Tues­days and Thurs­days.

ABOVE: Ting Tong the tuk-tuk

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