I would like to acknowledge and thank you
once again for the input you have given to our writing program and
the self esteem of our children at Haig Street Primary School during
Your involvement over the whole year and
your obvious love and gift for teaching writing resulted in a much
imroved program at our school. Most of your ideas and techniques
have been followed by our own teachers. I am particularly keen to
implement your process for linking writing to our Internet and computer
facilities and will personally follow that up this year.
I know of children in our two grade5/6 classrooms
who had little success with or enthusiasm for writing before your
sessions. They can now produce work of which they are proud and
have a changed attitude towards themselves as a result. The work
of our more competent writers has also been taken to a new level.
Your regular sessions were looked forward
to by all concerned and work produced was of a high standard. As
principal I am naturally delighted by your input for the children
involved, but also for the effect it has had on teaching strategies
at Haig Steet Primary.
Once again thanks, Heather from all at Haig
to Becoming a Writer
Student Writing Lounge
Writing Passport Projects
Participating Student Folios
22 June 1999
I wish to thank you for your wonderful efforts
with grade five six children at this school over the past two years.
I must say, that when you first approached
me, I wondered what motive you had, and what there was really in
it for our children.
I now realise that your motive was one of
love of seeing children use the English language in ways that creatively
outstrip anything that they (or their teachers) thought possible.
The work that you have done has been enjoyed
by the children and appreciated by the staff. You would be pleased
to know that it is not unusual to see teachers using methods and
ideas taken from your sessions. It has, as a result been useful
professional development for the teaching staff, as well as enormously
beneficial to the children.
You have a unique style that motivates people
to want to involve themselves in their writing. Your commitment
to your methods of teaching is commendable.
I have been most impressed with the work
produced by the children.
I believe that you have a gift in how you
are able to inspire. I thank you for sharing with Haig Street Primary
Don Crowe (Principal)
When early alchemists
looked to explain the mysteries of the structure of the universe
they looked within. They believed that answer to the mystery lay
within their own bodies and in that part of the body we call the
unconscious. The alchemist believed that he could ask matter to
tell him what he consists of. Instead of treating matter as a dead
object to be thrown into a vessel and then cooked in order to see
what would come out, one could just as well take a block of iron,
for instance, and ask it what it was, what kind of life was, what
it was doing, how it felt when melted. Since all these materials
are within you, you can contact them directly. In that way alchemists
contacted what we now call the collective unconscious. They consulted
this power directly, by talking to the iron or quicksilver. Naturally
the unconscious fills the gap with a personification.
taught me that listening to a blade of grass, for example, provides
us with a fresh perspective. Look at the following and assess this
for yourself. "Speak to me blade of grass!" "Hi Jai! You made a
good choice". "How do you know my name?" "I know everything......even
your deepest secrets!" "How do you know my deepest secrets? I didn't
tell you." "I know everything!" "Okay, give me some details" "Your
ten years old, turning eleven in September on the 30th, your in
grade five, you live at Outhwaite Road, your phone number is......,
your middle names are.... "Enough, Enough! I believe you now......
"Gidday! What is your name? My names Greenie. I like doing dirt
games, mud wrestling. My favourite food is fertilizer. My favourite
drink is water. I dislike pesticide. He is the biggest bully in
this area and his girlfriend, Acid rain is scary. I live on 666
dirt road. My best friends are Green finger and pebbles...." Luke
Streeter Haig Street Primary School
"The blade of
grass said "You sicken me so I will make it quick, follow your instincts,
that's all. Now get back to work and leave me alone. Oh! One more
thing! Tell those insignificant soccer players to stop treading
on my friends" BUT "Get me out of your ear. You give me the cooties."
BUT "I meant that! Now get a life." Michael Marten. Haig Street
"Blade of Grass,
speak to me." "OOOh Who disturbs my slumber? "It is I, Erin" "Ha
Ha You are talking to a piece of grass" interrupted a black bird.
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha interrupted another." "Have fun talking to the
blade of grass" said the first bird. "Who disturbs my slumber?"
Erin. Haig Street Primary School
"When I put my
grass up to my ear it told me all about nature. It talked to me
about how wonderful it is to listen to the birds sing and in summer
to listen to the crickets chirping. Kate Vella, Keon Park Primary.
gain wisdom and insight as they talk to the grass and personify
it. By personifying objects we gain insight into the human psyche.
When Sylvia Plath writes "Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room" in her poem 'Mushrooms' she reveals
an underlying bitterness about treatment she has witnessed. She
goes on to pick up a biblical illusion by referring to the mushroom
as the 'meek' who will 'multiply' and 'inherit the earth'. Likewise,
in her novel 'Peeling the Onion' Wendy Orr uses the onion to explore
the pain of diminished self esteem. She writes "I am peeling like
an onion - decaying slimy layers, hiding blackened mush inside."
Over time I have
discovered that it really does work to talk to 'the meek'. Broccoli,
carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions and the humble blade of
grass all have something important to say. They can provide us with
a fresh perspective; another way of seeing things. Recently I gave
my workshop participants a potato each and instructed them to care
for it and talk to it on a daily basis. They were told to keep the
secret diary of the potato for a month. If the discussion around
the table was any indication this humble earth loving creature was
freely dispensing fresh insight and home spun philosophy in no time
at all. The notion of being in the dark was enough to get the writing
going. Then my mother remarked that if Dad saw her potato he would
pop it in the ground in no time and the conversation quickly turned
to the joy of growing vegetables and the exquisite taste of a home
grown spud. Gleeful I remarked that we could write pages about caring
for potatoes, harvesting potatoes, storing potatoes, methods of
planting potatoes.....until I caught the look in their eyes and
realized that they were all off in a fantasy land, planning the
perfect spot to plant some spuds. Oh well! It sounded like a good
idea to start people writing!