Own your own Bedales lamb

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By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Lambing this year reached 188%, meaning we got 47 lambs from 25 ewes with no fatalities. In the sheep world, this is very good news! Recently, parent Craig McGregor got in contact to share his story about keeping his own Bedales sheep, an extract of which is below. If you would like to try your hand at some shepherding please get in touch. We will be selling live lambs from mid-July and they will be the tastiest lawnmower you will ever have! Contact me on 07786381427 / email amartin@bedales.org.uk

By Craig McGregor, parent

When I first read Andrew’s email from Bedales last spring offering lambs from the Bedales flock, I confess my first thought was ‘Yum!’ rather than ‘Awwwwww cute…’. I’d kept a few pigs in the past (they were delicious too) and I liked the idea of trying some sheep for a change, despite the odd cautionary tale I’d heard in the past. As it happens the Jacob’s sheep at Bedales behave more like [mountain] goats anyway, and they have provided my family with lots of entertainment over the past year!

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They have been very easy to keep and look after, especially as Andrew had given them the necessary medicines before I collected them, and even loaned me his trailer to get my four lambs home.

I know you shouldn’t name future meals in your paddock, but one of them (they are all rams) showed such leadership and smart thinking that I praised him and inadvertently called him Timmy one day, and that stuck. The others remain nameless, though all of them are very happy to chat at any time, and they are very curious by nature. They are fast learners and so can be beckoned from far away when they know it’s mealtime, or see me with the rattling bucket.

IMAG0105-20170619-231803296The biggest benefit of course is the grazing, and they have kept our two fields to a nice neat length, and we haven’t needed any extra topping, which is very handy and saves some money too.

Their next milestone is our local butcher, who will be cutting and preparing the meat.  As they’re just over the year, they are officially young hogget’s, apparently, and are absolutely delicious when slow-roasted…

Of course I am also collecting another three or four from this year’s lambs to repeat the cycle. Highly recommended! And happy to chat with any other parents…

 

How we learn and what makes us tick

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By Josh Mazas, 6.2

I wanted to share some thoughts on what I have personally found make people act the way they do, with a touch on how great a Bedalian education is.

When I say “what makes us tick” I mean the most basic subconscious motivators. Not for example, money, power, or because mum tells you to. These are important, but they apply individually, and I would be more interested in the factors beneath those – in those that apply universally.

Also, I’m only at the very initial thoughts on what I think is education and behavioural studies. In fact, most people would usually stand up and tell the audience why they’re qualified to talk on education and behavioural studies… I’m not qualified to do anything much. I have however, been at this school for a decade now, well over half of the 14-odd years I’ve spent in education. And what I wanted to do was just share a personal fascination that I think was born of going to a school that aims to be slightly different – questioning the status quo.

A few years ago, after some deep soul-searching, I diagnosed myself as a compulsive people-watcher. I find watching the infinitely varied way in which people behave and trying to understand why, fascinating. So to start with, I will spend a bit of time talking about a four-year-old friend of mine, Badger.

Badger: 1. Valorisation

The great thing about kids is that they are psychologically untouched. They don’t have any of the complexities or self-awareness of an adult that comes from scepticism and experiences and growing up, and so when I’m people-watching, it’s like their actions are a clear window into their mind-set.

Well, a couple of weekends ago I spent some time watching Badger interacting with his natural habitat at Common People music festival with his parents and all the other people we were working with. The first evening he stood on the circle of logs around the campfire and jumped from one to the other, and when he did a particularly big jump, we cheered him, which I can tell you made him very happy. The next evening he went back to the logs and did some jumping, but this time he looked at us expectantly, clearly waiting for the applause that his daring feats of acrobatics deserved. Which of course, with his chubby cheeks and bright blue eyes, he got.

As I was watching, I was struck by how much of the time, we do things because people tell us they have value, when in the larger scheme of things, they are about as significant as Badger’s hops. It was clear to me that the really basic reason that Badger was doing his hopping (which can be transferred to many other things we do) is for one of three basic reasons, the first of which I would call ‘valorisation’.

The concept is very simple. Throughout our childhoods, if we have good parents and peers who support us emotionally, then we are applauded for certain things: academic, creative and sporting feats, altruistic behaviour and generally what we think of as those acts that have ‘value’.

It’s funny, because this idea of value is completely arbitrary: we think of an action as having value if it’s worth doing. And we do stuff because we feel it has value. This tautology means that, to an extent, goodness is trained into us: we say that we inherited the creative/sporty/maths genes from our parents, but I think it’s more like our parents applaud traits they find in themselves, and thus you are subconsciously trained to be like them, with no genetic predisposition.

Anyway, when I consider the basic reasons that make us do things: work hard; be friendly; eat your greens; I think it stems at its most basic level from this idea of valorisation. Which means that although we don’t think of ourselves usually in this way, we are each individually programmed by our parents’ conscious and subconscious valorisation, as well as the valorisation we receive from our surroundings. But of course, that’s not where all our ‘ticking’ comes from.

Badger: 2. Copying and integrating

Back to Badger. The day after his log-jumping Olympic gold, Badger was following his mum Kate around, and she was walking round the campsite just dancing to the reggae-dub that was playing on the mainstage, so he started bopping with her. It was interesting because he initially watched her carefully, trying to replicate her exact movements, until the moment of realisation that her incomprehensible spasms were actually linked to the beat that was incessantly playing. You could see the comprehension as we went from dancing completely out of tune, to focussing inwards and rocking to the music with much happiness, jamming along with glee and pride, bigger and bigger moves… until he whacked his head on one of the poles.

Poor Badger.

The next basic motivator then, I thought, was clear throughout much of the animal kingdom; especially monkeys, and it was simply: copying. As an evolutionary mechanism, it makes a lot of sense, you copy your peers or people you aspire to be in order to learn from them, and improve yourself.

This is actually a vital part of initial learning, until we learn to think for ourselves, which is why you have to be super careful about what you do or say around kids. They are incredible at picking up on what you do and copying you. Without their talent in this field we wouldn’t be able to learn to speak, or eat, or any very basic communication skills.

You can also see it subconsciously in large groups of people, shoals of fish, and young Tory voters. “My parents are Tory, I’ll vote Conservative”. It’s amazing how much more likely you are to dance if other people are dancing, this feeling of copying people so as not to be different, to blend in, be part of the crowd is something we all experience, and isn’t always positive.

Anyway, so I think you’ve probably grasped quite easily the first two obvious factors of motivation: valorisation and the innate urge to copy. The third one is my favourite, and I think that between these three you can argue that they cover all the things we do in our lives, in general.

Badger: 3. Wonder

This is the last time I will mention Badger: when I woke up on the last day of the festival, I found him sitting on a stool, pouring water very gently over this little spider web and seeing how it made little droplets that sparkled in the about 11:30 sunshine. He was completely enthralled, and 100% focussed, as he was when dancing or log-hopping. It was wonderful to see.

I took the liberty of joining him in his experiments, and for some brief moments felt the same wonder at seeing the water trickle over such a delicate structure without breaking it.

Although I’m pretty certain Badger wasn’t engrossed specifically by the tensile strength of natural fibres; I thought it was clear we both felt an urge to experiment; to explore our own capabilities; to find out about the world and how it worked. I would argue that it’s the same instinct that makes people want to study at higher education, or take a course in some long-lost art, or climb K2 (the most dangerous mountain in the world to date I believe).

On reflection, I wondered again about the evolutionary perspective on this final factor, and I thought that it was deep down probably linked to fear. Fear is arguably our most innate sensation, all animals have it and it helps us to survive. When discovering something or doing something new, whether physical or mental, you gain knowledge or strength or a skill. This we can essentially call a ‘strength’. Every time you gain a strength, you feel better prepared to survive in a world that is quintessentially frightening. You feel, every time you embark on a discovery, a sense of self-betterment, which is why we have this built into us.

This is my favourite factor, as I said, because it serves us better than the two other factors. If someone tells us to do something, or just simply does something, we are initially at an advantage if we do that thing; but in a more developed world it is absolutely vital to curate and encourage the third factor, which I would like to call innate curiosity.

Bedales

Finally, a couple of quick words about Bedales. Although you may not agree, I think the wonderful thing about this school is embodied in how it approaches the three factors I have just discussed.

Firstly, the incredible amount of valorisation by the teachers is perfect for creating a self-confidence in the student body, a pride in one’s own abilities and also a willingness to do what is good, since we valorise things such as hard work, appreciation of self and others; respect; work of each for weal of all etc. I have a friend who was badly bullied before he joined, and remember vividly how he cried on his first day – such was his lack of confidence. However, through constant support and valorisation, he is now not only proud of his achievements, himself and his beautiful girlfriend, but also feels prepared emotionally for whatever is coming in the next few years.

However, in terms of the second motivator (copying), we find Bedales’ ethos rebels slightly. Bedales is a great advocate of individuality. Which precisely rejects that innate urge to do like everyone else and copy blindly until you understand why. The problem with the second motivator in our contemporary society is that much of what people do is pointless; due to the speed at which attitudes and cultures and even simply geographical positioning changes. In my opinion this is an excellent way to create ‘intelligent thinkers’; people who surpass their basic internal forces to rationally consider their options before doing them. Again, I would say Bedales has struck gold.

Finally, and I’m sure you know what I’m going to say, Bedales – as it says on the website – encourages ‘inquisitive thinkers’. I think we can all agree that this inquisitive, curious, appetite for something different is incredibly valued and valuable at Bedales; it could be considered a trait comparable to or intrinsically linked with (depending on how you see it) creativity. Sir Ken Robinson said it, and I agree, we must cultivate creativity in our schools with the same importance as mathematics or English.

You need creativity to approach the uncertain future we have ahead of us with success. And actually, I would say that Bedales, to a certain extent, is also pretty accomplished in this area too.

Before I finish, I would like to go back to the beginning point about ‘people-watching’. It is fascinating and although you may think what you like about my observations, they come from a completely free and personally tailored form of learning. The integral aim of people-watching is to not only learn about other people, but to stretch your own perspective and learn about yourself. I would highly recommend it.

Cecily Eastwood In Memoriam: twenty years

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By Ruth Whiting, former Bedales Head of History (1963-2000)

Cecily was the third of the four daughters of Basil and Alison Eastwood, all of whom attended Bedales.  Lively, enthusiastic, multi-talented and fiercely intelligent Cecily put 110% into everything she did and saw no reason why there should be any limit to what she, and others, could achieve.  Acting, directing, singing in the choir and playing the flute in the orchestra absorbed much of the time Cecily didn’t need for academic work and she was one of the chief motivators of the early “energy saving and greening of Bedales” campaign.

DSC_0032 (Large)With a place at Newnham College, Cambridge to read Modern languages secured for September 1997, after leaving Bedales Cecily earned money working in The Bear and Ragged Staff in Woodstock and Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford before departing to work in Lechwe School, Kitwe in Zambia’s Copper Belt.  Very soon she was also volunteering to work with children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS, running a homework club which also included music and development of language.  Tragically on 2 June she was killed in a road accident on her way to join a school Geography expedition to Lake Tanganyika.

At the beginning of the autumn term of 1997, Bedalians began work creating ‘Cecily’s Garden’.  Whilst working in the Bonham’s Barn bake-house Cecily had confided in Peter Coates how much she would like a garden nearby for reading and quiet contemplation.  The original garden was surrounded by a willow fence with an arch at the entrance, planted with camellias by the barn, herbs, roses and in the spring filled with daffodils encircling the existing tree and with a semi-circular bench created by Alison Crowther.  Over the years the garden has been expanded, contracted, encroached upon by the new pizza oven and hemmed in by the new staff houses, gradually falling into decay.

DSC_0034 (Large)This academic year Jonny Smart (Block 5) chose to work on renovating the garden for his ODW BAC project, guided by David Anson.  David explains, “The aim is to create a cottage garden that makes use of the wild-flower nature of it. The path through it is to encourage the sense of contemplation.”  Two medlar trees, donated by Philip Parsons, have been planted and after half term additional plants will provide the summer colour.  One of the gorgeously scented roses has survived from the original planting.  In Spring the daffodils and camellias still flourish.

After a visit to Zambia in 1998 Cecily’s parents established a charity to support AIDS’ orphans through primary education, providing uniforms, shoes, books and where necessary fees.  Over the years this has extended to secondary and then higher education and also work in training for leadership and developing health education.  As Cecily’s father Basil Eastwood wrote in the latest edition of Cecily’s Fund Newsletter, “the charity has helped over 20,000 Zambian children to complete their education”.  Find out more about Cecily’s Fund: www.cecilysfund.org

Broadening Horizons

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By Sarah Oakley, University Liaison Coordinator

Bedales was pleased to host and support the Broadening Horizons: Choices and Progression Beyond Sixth Form Conference organised by Unifrog on Tuesday. Unifrog provide the search tool used by our students for university choices. The distinctiveness of this collaboration was the range of topics from mental health, to apprenticeships, to demystifying university league tables and possibilities of students ‘going Dutch’ to universities in the Netherlands.

We welcomed 30 delegates from a range of mainstream and independent educational institutions in the South and South West of England to hear perspectives from: Anna Barker (Chair of the British Youth Council); Hamrinder Matharu (Apprenticeship Business Development Manager, The Open University); Kim Anderson (Area Manager of Unifrog); Monique Swennehuis (Senior Advisor of Hanze University of Applied Science, Netherlands) and Lizzie Burrows (Head of UK/EU Student Recruitment from the University of Surrey).

A range of Heads and Deputy Principals of Sixth Forms and those supporting HE applications all enthusiastically embraced the breadth of topics and opportunities to share their ideas in this shifting landscape.

Dead right

By Clare Jarmy, Head of Religious Studies and Philosophy 

I went to the Mary Rose Museum a couple of weeks ago, and was blown away by the exhibits; the amazing things that have survived for 400 years under the sea. But when I got to the case with a human skeleton inside, I felt a bit odd, and on Monday in assembly, I took students through a philosophical journey, thinking about why that was. We started by asking ‘where’s the harm?’ After all, the person had no more need of their bones, and perhaps they could be an important part of an educational experience. More than this, why should we be precious about these cells? The cells in our body regenerate all the time – why should we be precious about the cells someone was composed of when they died? John Mazas, ably-supported by a skeleton from the Biology Department, did his Yorick routine, reading the passage from Hamlet (V.i) where he remarks that the ‘earth’ that once made Alexander the Great could now be bunging up a hole in the wall.

Next, we looked at objectification. Heidegger distinguished between beings that were aware they existed (Dasein) from objects of use. Perhaps what’s weird is that when we put a skeleton or a mummy, or any other human remains, in a museum, they are no longer human, they are an exhibit; an object of use.

But here’s where the Mary Rose got it so right, because they had gone to great pains to keep these stories humanised. There is the archer, who was found with a ridge in his finger from where he drew his bow. There was the Purser (Bursar), who was identified because of his disability; no other member of the crew could not have been fully able-bodied.

It’s not just this experience that is educative, in the broadest sense, though. Coming, quite literally, face-to-face with mortality acts as a memento mori, a remembrance of death. It is this that can jolt us back into realising what it means to exist.

Bedales Jaw: are human rights, liberal rights?

By Emily Seeber, Head of Chemistry

On Wednesday I presented a Jaw to students on the ‘problem of multiculturalism’ for liberal political philosophy, with a focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). I began by introducing students to the key ideas of liberal thought, and focused on the ideas of John Rawls, whose theory has been hugely influential in contemporary political theory. I then suggested the challenge posed by multiculturalism for liberalism and gave three criteria for a liberal philosophy which was consistent with a pluralistic society, and in this case a global society.

Firstly, what constitutes human rights needs to be determined under conditions of fairness (behind Rawls’ veil of ignorance in which participants are unaware of their gender, religion, economic status, political views, etc). Secondly, any universal rights should represent values which deeply different cultures can accept and which do not contradict their own systems of value.

Thirdly, rights and restrictions given by the declaration should provide genuine opportunities for equality of human flourishing in culturally diverse societies. I demonstrated that, arguably, and in my opinion, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights fails to meet any of these criteria and, consequently, does not represent a multiculturalist form of liberalism.

Consequently, judging and measuring other societies using the Declaration is inherently illiberal. This does not mean that the values represented by the Declaration are not good values, or that the notion of human rights is conceptually flawed, but it does suggest that the Declaration needs to be reformulated into a document which is more tolerant and sensitive to other cultural values.

Why every student should complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

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By Emily Seeber, Head of Chemistry

Having helped supervise the recent sixth form Gold DofE Expedition to Dartmoor, I spent some time reflecting on why the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the expedition in particular is such a valuable experience for every student.

  1. Sleeping in the wilderness

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There is something wonderful about sleeping in a camp you have made yourself: maybe no-one else has ever put their tent up exactly where yours is. Waking up and already being deep in nature gives you a new perspective on your relationship with the environment and packing up your stuff and seeing how little impact you can make on the ground underneath your tent is pretty inspiring.

  1. No technology

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An expedition means days without iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. This makes DofE one of the least narcissistic experiences students can have.

  1. Fresh air and a bit of cardio

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Everybody knows that when you’re feeling down, going outside for fresh air and exercise is one of the best things you can do. On DofE students don’t experience anything other than the freshest of air for five days straight – and climbing up hills with a heavy bag is not to be underestimated as a means of raising heart-rate; all of which gives students’ mood a real boost.

  1. Providing skills and opportunities for the future

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DofE empowers student to organise their own expeditions and travels for the future, which may involve carrying a tent, but could be kayaking the Amazon, for example. Students start to see new opportunities and have the skills, and confidence, to take advantage of them.

  1. A sense of satisfaction

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Hiking for four or five days with a heavy bag, setting up camp four times, staying positive and finding solutions to unanticipated problems: these are the challenges of an expedition and overcoming them is immensely satisfying.

  1. Removes traditional social barriers

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Students do DofE for a range of reasons, so they are thrown into a deep relationship of trust with a group of people that they may not usually hang about with. Students form friendships with students they would not have done without the experience. This broadening and strengthening of students’ real (as in, not virtual) social network is associated with improvements in their mental wellbeing.

All-in-all, it is extremely worthwhile for Bedales students to take advantage of these opportunities time and again, with an increasing level of independence through Bronze, Silver and Gold. Grab a backpack… and contact  Paul Turner, Head of Geography and Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator for Bedales.