School Days (Day 179)
What were your School Days like?
Alice Springs Airport has a shuttle service (at a small cost); we arrived at our designated place for pick up and waited… and waited…and then realised that we were an hour too early! At least we were early rather than late. There was a grass area opposite with a playground so we went and sat there in the autumnal sun. Suddenly a border collie came bouncing up to me with a large stick in her mouth. She wanted to play. It turned out this was Dusty and we had a lovely chat with her owner, a beautiful young lady who came to Alice Springs 11 years ago for a 6-month trip, loved it so much that she stayed. She is a teacher in an Indigenous School that was set up by an Indigenous Charity. She told us that the government schools didn’t tend to cover Indigenous topics such as their various languages, skills and culture hence the charity and school was set up 40 years ago. Tim asked if they follow a western way of teaching and unfortunately they do. I shared with her about Forest Schools, whereby children are taught outdoors and the ethos is that “all learners have regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment with trees”. Now, there may not be too many trees around here, but the concept could be adopted. The aboriginal people are outdoor people, so why constrain them teaching in a classroom setting. People learn so much better in an environment that connects with them. Having researched further, there does seem to be a gradual shift. Professor Chris Sarra became the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School, He has made significant changes to the way that Aboriginal students experience education by fostering a ‘strong and smart’ approach, embracing a strong and positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in contemporary Australian society. Let’s hope more schools adopt his approach. Our pickup bus arrived, the driver was very impressed with the little amount of luggage we had. Arriving at the Airport, we had something to eat and made a decision to have hand luggage only when we recommence our travels after my Mum’s funeral. Hurrah! We did some research and found a very nice Samsonite carry-on bag – in burnt orange! Tim will have my blue one and I get the new one. Perfect! Our flight was delayed a tad and then we climbed onboard – so nice to be on Qantas rather than our typical bucket flights. We even had free lunch and drinks – luxury! Mind you, the flight did cost more – you pay for what you get. When we arrived in Sydney, Geoff was there to greet us in the Express Pick up. I’m not sure who the “Express” is for – as a passenger, it certainly isn’t express to reach there. We were walking for ages…in the rain! We arrived and Alix was there to greet us with 4 dogs. They were looking after Millie, a golden retriever for a few days. It’s so lovely to see Geoff and Alix again, it really is as if we have known them for years. Alix showed us some of her new paintings she has been working on. We both love her style and her use of colour. One thing I didn’t mention last time we were here was an exercise that she did for 30 days as part of an Art course she was taking. Each day she had to paint or draw, the result is superb, and she found that she viewed her days differently, noticing details more. I know exactly what she means as I am noticing small details or big views far more since I have been writing. We chatted for ages, as usual about a whole multitude of subjects, including the food we used to eat as children; Angel’s Delight, Tongue, Custard Skin. Then Alix and I were in hoots describing school dinners. It seems that we ate the same stuff. Meat pie with grisly grey meat and the pastry was rock hard on top and soggy underneath, Chocolate pudding with white thin custard. How come her school was on the west coast of Scotland and mine was in Essex and we were eating the same school dinners? Time for bed for our last night in Australia. Sad that it’s been cut short, however, it’s all part of the rich tapestry of life and good to go with the flow.