How to fit a class to the kids who don’t fit

image002I’ve had a good moan about the state education system in recent posts, and how it doesn’t meet the needs of growing numbers of our children.  But criticism is the easy bit.  Far harder is to say what should be done instead.

I’m certainly not claiming to have all the answers, but I thought it would be interesting to post some information about a highly experimental class I helped to set up in a very ordinary state primary school in England several years ago.

I could rabbit on for hours about those kids – the huge problems in their lives and the consequent lack of self-esteem, but I’ll let the pictures and a journal extract made at the time tell the story.

The children’s names have been changed, obviously, but every word is true.

Quick scan round the class – and my eyes settle on Jack.  He has a pinched, anxious look which makes me wonder if he’s been hit again. 

“How was the weekend?” I ask, quietly.

“Fine,” he mumbles.

Then he pushes his home-school log towards me.  A note from Mum tells me a much-loved relative died last night.

As I put my hand on his shoulder and commiserate, Laura is beside us.  She asks what has happened. 

“Come on, Jack – we’ll look at a book together, shall we?”

He allows himself to be led away, giving her a slight smile.

Sam and Carly are both busy writing messages for the ‘worry box’. (A drop box for any problems or issues individual children wanted to share with me.)

Sam’s says, ‘I got to recod a vidoo staytmet on my burfday and im a bit wurrid.’

It emerges that he is acting as a witness in the court case against his stepfather.  He’s due to spend his birthday recording his statement on video.  We chat about the nice man who came to video our class play and I agree to let him rehearse with me nearer the time.  He settles to draw a picture of himself on camera.

Meanwhile, Carly’s message is ready.  Her father has his check-up at the hospital today ‘to see if the cancer has gone’.  Shaun was watching her write.  He moves in to chat to her.  He always pitches it right.  He lost his own dad to cancer two years ago.

Then Jose approaches me.  “They found my Dad.”

“That’s great!” I say.  He’d been missing for about three months.

“Well, not really,” Jose sighs.  “He was in a right state.  They’ve shoved him in the Nut House.”

Not much you can say to that.  “At least he’s alive and safe,” I reply, lamely. 

Neither of us mentions the dreadful nightmares Jose’s been having since he vanished without trace or medication.

“Don’t worry, Miss.  I’ll take care of Jose,” Sian grins and they head for the dolls’ house.

This is not a scene from some harrowing piece of fiction.  It’s a real 15 minutes in the life of my class of 22 kids with BESD (education-speak acronym for Behavioural, Emotional or Social Difficulties).  They range from 8 to 11 years old.  Partly, they were brought together because many of them had been causing mayhem in other classes and several were heading towards permanent exclusion.  Mostly, though, they were brought together because the system was failing them and it was time to give them a school environment they could function and feel safe in.

Jack spent most of the day getting on with his work, but he’d been told that if he felt sad, he was to take himself off to his choice of zone.

image001We have ‘zones’ all round the classroom. 

There’s a thumping zone, with cushions to hit (‘Never hit anything with a face’); a scribble zone, with red and black wax crayons and piles of scrap paper (‘Draw out your anger’); a chill-out zone, with ice cream themed table cover, beautiful posters, cuddly toys, headphones and relaxing CDs; a dark cave, with a blackout curtain, where you can only feel your way around, and a rainbow cave, with crystals and sun-catchers and sparkly, shiny toys. 

image002There are floor cushions and a blanket in the discovery station (aka book corner).  They’re good for lounging on when enjoying a book, but they double as a makeshift bed for Sam, when family battles have kept him up all night, or Sian, when her Mum’s come home wasted at 2am and climbed into bed with her to tell her about all the goings on at the nightclub.  If a child is too tired to work, I let them sleep, and the rest of the class creep around so as not to disturb them.

Most popular of all is the dolls’ house, where toy knights, princesses and wizards mix with the family dolls and any child can build an alternative reality, when their own life seems too much to cope with.

Targets and levels are kept well concealed from the class.  They have enough pressures, without these.  The emphasis is on relentless praise and encouragement.  Even sitting in your place is rewarded, and for some, it’s remarkable progress.

The curriculum revolves around a scheme called Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning. 

When working on ‘co-operating as a member of a group’, a literacy plenary involved sitting in a ‘clan’ group and letting each member read his/her ‘Celtic legend’ to the rest.  Each child then offered a positive comment to the other clan members.

A lesson on magnetism was followed by a group challenge to build a magnetic game in a set time.  First, though, they created rules to make sure the exercise was enjoyable and successful.  (Don’t strop off; no put-downs; take a vote; listen to everyone; share the jobs, etc.)

image002Reflection is also a vital part of classroom life.  They need the looking-glass held up, to show them how they have progressed.

“How did you do?”  “How does that make you feel?”  “Could you have done that last year?”

(“No way!” grins Liam. “Would’ve been World War Three!”)

Oh there are bad days, believe me.  The effort of holding back the waves of negativity, aggression and self-hatred leave us close to breaking point at times.  It took over a term to get them to like, or at least tolerate, themselves.  Only now are we starting on tolerating others.  It is a gruelling job; not for the faint-hearted. 

Just sometimes, though, on days like today, it works.  And then, it feels wonderful.

It cost £100, along with lots of hard work from some very special people to set the classroom up.  It took a visionary head teacher to trust our wild experiment.  It took its toll on all of us – my wonderful support staff and myself as teacher – but after the year was over, every one of those children who had started with us had returned to a ‘normal’ class and was coping.  All of them had made huge progress – academically, socially and emotionally.

I’m certain that year changed their lives as much as it changed mine.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Thoughts on and beyond Time

The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)

Does anyone else have the feeling that they’re inadvertently following some kind of elaborate treasure trail through life?

It’s as if Someone or Something is littering your lifetime with clues and markers that will lead you in a particular direction and towards significant discoveries.

I’ve had that feeling for most of my life.  I know all experience is important and all that but, you know, some things have an extra special feel, and some inner mechanism lights up a little flashing LED that signifies, ‘Notice this.  You’re going to need it later on.’

I’m going to follow the path – as best I can – of one of my own ‘treasure trails’.  You are very welcome to join me on my journey.

Drawing of T. S. Eliot by Simon Fieldhouse. De...

Clue 1:  I was 17 years old, and had just discovered TS Eliot’s poetry.  The Eng. Lit. A-level syllabus involved forensic study of texts, to extricate all possible layers of meaning.  Quite a task with Eliot, but a wholly fascinating and satisfying  one.

I can vividly recall the shock waves that ran through my body on first reading the opening lines of Burnt Norton:

“Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.”

Heraclitus

Heraclitus (Photo credit: cote)

The next line spoke of time being “eternally present”.  He was quoting (according to our English teacher) the ideas of Heraclitus, founder of Metaphysics and believer in eternal flux.

I was stunned, amazed, numbed by the significance of those words.  For me the world had changed.  I wasn’t sure how or why, but I knew I’d just been handed a valuable pointer, and I’d find out more one day.

Clue 2:  Fast forward about 30 years.  (I’m sure there were other clues between – some I’ve forgotten and many I missed – but the wonder of this system is that no matter how many hints and tips we miss, there will always be others dangled in our path, until we finally notice.)  Even with my sluggish and myopic way of moving through life, I realised that I was being pushed towards reading a particular book.  References to it were cropping up everywhere.

To be honest, the title was putting me off a bit.  It was called Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch.  I was expecting something earnest, slushy and religious.  Fortunately, the book was none of these.  It was a channelled work, quoting a ‘God’ who differed markedly from the one Sunday school teachers had tried to fob me off with.  This God was authentic, witty, fun, always wise and often outrageous.  Many parts stood out, but the words relevant to my present trail came near the start of  Book Two:

“There is no time.  All things exist simultaneously.  All events occur at once.”

There it was again!  First a poet and an ancient philosopher, now God – all telling me something that seemed impossible and yet perfectly right at the same time.

Now the indications started to come thick and fast – mainly because by this point I was actively on the lookout for them.

Space-time continuum

Space-time continuum (Photo credit: pellesten)

Clue 3:  A lifetime’s disinterest in science became a fascination when I discovered the space-time continuum, relativity and fractals.  True, I needed all this to be delivered in the most basic form for it to be intelligible to me, but gradually it opened my mind to time being, at the very least, something wobbly and variable rather than an absolute.

When things start to go blurry at the edges, I begin to get interested; that’s the place I want to explore.

Science also had some helpful quotes.  Einstein said:

“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

and he had a still more pithy explanation for that illusion:

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

Clue 4:  More channelled material.  It didn’t seem to matter where it came from – the messages were the same.  Jane Roberts, channelling Seth, was stating that yes, we all have many lifetimes, and spaces in between, but that these events were/are/will be all happening at once.

So for ‘past lives’ should we read ‘alternate present lives’?  Oh good grief!

Clue 5:  I met the boy.  I had an unusual but very close friendship with a youngster who had been in a class I used to teach.  Not only did he share my fascination with the bendiness of time and the existence of alternate lives – he personally experienced them.  He had the most brilliant mind and for several years was kind enough to share his thoughts and experiences with me.

Train tickets

Train tickets (Photo credit: Alice Bartlett)

He told me of experiencing involuntary – and highly confusing – ‘slips’ between one reality and another.  (Readers of my book will perhaps recall the train ticket story as an example of this.)

He told me of the 4th dimension where “time becomes fractal and there is no distinction between past, present and future”.  He explained that once someone could interact with this dimension,

“…they could eliminate the normal journey time involved for travel between two points.  As if time is the same at somebody’s destination as their origin, the move between the two points is instantaneous.”

My book coverFinally, I had enough information to put my book – Life: A Player’s Guide – together, including plenty of material on time, and the curious way in which it only exists in our imagined reality.  Like taste, sight and smell, it seemed to be no more than a helpful feedback system for exploring corporeal life, and one that would cease to have any meaning or importance once we shed this mortal coil and moved beyond.  Possibly it was even something we could warp and bend a bit while still here…

I wasn’t finished yet.  The treasure trail clues kept coming.

Clue 6:  As I mentioned in another post, I was recently handed a copy of ‘One’ by Richard Bach.  This, too, explores the idea of parallel lives which could, if we knew the way, be accessed from ‘now’.

Clue 7:  Attending one of those ‘evenings of clairvoyance’ that come up every now and then (so to speak) , I watched as the medium connected to various people’s grannies and parents, giving detailed accounts of their lives that were obviously deeply meaningful to the recipients.

One member of the audience asked why these ladies and gents were still hovering around ‘beyond the veil’, waiting to give accounts of their – it has to be said – rather trivial ailments and idiosyncrasies.  “Why haven’t any of them reincarnated?” she asked.

The medium didn’t answer.  She side-stepped.  She began talking of her own past lives.  The questioner had a good point, though.  The thought of spending eternity queuing up patiently on the other side of the veil at seances to get the chance to tell your great-niece how happy you are and that the tummy spasms no longer affect you doesn’t appeal much, does it?

It only makes sense if we can accept that we can exist in all places and times, all the time… and that tends to send us a little crazy.

I still have plenty of unanswered questions.  Where does all this leave karma, for example?  Can there have been a beginning – Big Bang or whatever – if there’s no time?

I wonder how many more clues the mysterious treasure trail organiser will drop in my path before I figure it out …

If you’re one of the people who is holding any of those clues for me, do let me know, won’t you?  🙂

Compliance, defiance and everything between and beyond that

English: Compliance spectrum

English: Compliance spectrum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the autistic spectrum which generated a fair bit of attention and discussion.  One interesting conversation leading from it concerned whether a diagnosis of this or other ‘disorders’ had more to do with the inability or unwillingness of health and education professionals to move out of their comfort zone and find ways of tolerating and accommodating alternative ways of thinking, interpreting and viewing the world.

Before educators everywhere jump down my throat, let me explain that I’ve been there and done that.  I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s feasible – still less desirable – to combine all the different ways of being and learning into one mainstream classroom, along with a sizeable group of utterly neurotypical students and fulfil the requirements of a rigorous, top-down, dictatorial education system in which the young people (and staff) are assessed, tested, compared and expected to comply.

“I see that compliance is everything – and he’s only 5!” the mother of a child in kindergarten commented.

I dare to question who that compliance serves: the child, the educators or the policy makers.

Let me tell you the story of Marley:

By the time he entered my class as a 10-year-old, Marley already had quite a reputation around the school.  That’s putting it mildly; he was notorious!

He and I already knew each other quite well, since I’d often found him skulking in corridors as a younger student (“Been slung out for messing about, Miss”) and invited him to join my own class.  When he did this, despite being younger than my own pupils, he’d invariably watch their activity with interest for a few minutes, pluck up courage to proffer a few suggestions and frequently end up taking the lead in moving them to a point beyond their original capabilities.  In fact, my most academically able group would invariably invite him to join them when he entered the room, since they quickly realised what an asset he was.

Ok, so Marley was highly intelligent.  His cognitive abilities stretched way beyond my own, or, I suspect, those of the rest of the school’s staff.  He had a fairly abrasive habit of making this known vociferously if a teacher ever made a mistake.  It takes an educator with the hide of a rhinoceros combined with the humility of a Zen monk to accept a small boy sighing loudly and yelling, “No, you’ve got that completely WRONG!” in the middle of a lesson.  It does little to sustain that fragile control the educator has fought so hard to develop in order to handle the class successfully.  And that’s just at primary school…

Marley was never, during the years I worked with him, diagnosed with a disorder, although  ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) was often mentioned darkly within the staff room and in conversation with visiting educational psychologists.  Nevertheless, he could be highly disruptive and only complied with his teachers’ requests when he felt it was in his interest to do so.

When he joined my class full-time, I worked with him by negotiation.  I would briefly explain the objectives of the activity I had planned for the group and give him the option of following this, or moving into one of the extension projects I had prepared for him.  He usually made sensible choices, enjoying mastering new skills and proficiencies but absenting himself from much of the National Curriculum’s less challenging or enthralling content.  Given the choice, I’d have done the same.

He produced creative writing of a level beyond that of any primary school child I ever encountered, pouring over a thesaurus to extend his vocabulary (I recall a prolonged debate on whether ‘egress’ was a stylistically suitable synonym for ‘door’  in a passage he’d written!) and striving to master use of the semi-colon and paragraphing.  He grasped mathematical, scientific and technological understanding at a phenomenal rate and in standardised reading comprehension tests he was off the scale.

He also made dreadful mistakes, behaving callously and with no thought of the implications of his actions.  The pain and distress he caused on these occasions was immeasurable and our school’s wonderful pastoral care team and I spent many hours raking over his actions with him and encouraging mental ‘re-winding’ to enable him to see how things could have played out differently, had he made more careful and considered choices.  These young people require advice and stewardship as much as any other.

My favourite Marley story, though, comes from when he transferred to secondary school.

An example of an item from a cognitive abiliti...

An example of an item from a cognitive abilities test used in educational psychology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new entrants were required, during their first week, to sit a series of CAT tests – multiple choice papers designed to measure cognitive ability.  The new children – still nervous and disoriented at this switch to a far larger school, where they were now the ‘little ones’ – were ushered into the school hall, sat at separated tables in long lines and told to complete the many pages before them within the allotted time.

Marley sat down at his table, picked up the paper and glanced through page one.  He considered for a moment, then began to flick through the rest of the paper.  Without a word, he put down his pen, picked up the test script and began to shred it neatly, until a small pile of torn fragments of paper was left on the table.  He then, quietly, rose from his seat and left the room.

It is to the credit of that secondary school that they persevered with Marley and eventually found ways to engage him in some of the work they offered.  Many other such non-conformers are permanently excluded from our school system.  It simply wasn’t built for them.

Teachers and educators are already severely over-burdened.  The extra work involved in providing something approaching a curriculum more suited to Marley’s needs was ridiculously time-consuming.  I suffered from a fair degree of burnout that year.

In any class, a teacher will encounter several children who learn differently – whether it be with autistic spectrum perception, with the butterfly mind of so-called ADD or ADHD, with cognitive abilities which fall to either side of the norm or with such fascinating abilities as telepathy or other psychic skills – and he or she will still be expected to churn out the desired percentage of ‘average’ students, so that the bell curve of achievement remains as predicted by the experts.

Indigo Child

Indigo Child (Photo credit: wasabicube)

Given the multi-dimensional understanding that is becoming increasingly evident in so many of our Version 2.0 young people, (see Life: A Player’s Guide for details)  I believe we owe it to them to provide the emotional and educational stewardship that will enable them to share their gifts, while taking what they need from the bank of skills and knowledge we have amassed thus far.

If that means a radical rethink of the whole education system; if it means far more flexibility on the part of those in authority; if it means the young people may not strive to become exactly like us (also see this post) or complete standardised tests, as Marley would have commented, with a casual shrug, “Oh well-.”

 

 

Rules of Engagement – in Education and Beyond

Some mystery person has been looking through many of my old posts this last week.  It’s encouraged me to revisit some of my older jottings.  

Rather short of time this week, so I’ve decided the article below is probably worth a second look.  Sadly, I no longer work at GLOW, but this should serve as a fitting tribute to the amazing young people I knew there.

 

Back when I was a schoolteacher in Essex, I’d greet my new cluster of 10-year-olds on the first day of the school year with their first task – to write our class rules.

Rules for Students Fall 2009-2

It was a depressing and arduous process.  I’d start by writing up my own contribution: Have Fun.  The children would look sideways at each other with that, ‘yeah, right!’ expression and proceed to make their own suggestions, gleaned from six years of experience within the education system.

No swearin’.    No spittin’.    Don’t hit no one.    Don’t rock on yer chairs…….

Patiently and gently I’d encourage them to transform their list of negatives to positives – aspirations rather than prohibitions.  They’d look bemused, try hard to please me, but be far more comfortable with their familiar set of regulations – they were much easier to break.

I should add that all the teachers who had encountered these groups of children before me had made similar attempts to foster positivity.   Perhaps we made limited progress eventually.

 

At GLOW, there is a shifting population, so the rules are ready and waiting.  New arrivals either agree to our code of conduct or decide this place isn’t right for them and leave.  We have only four rules, but they are binding and non-negotiable.

The first I brought with me: Have fun.

The other three were lifted from Conversations With God:   Be Honest.    Be Responsible.    Be Aware.

They work.  Conflicts are rare within the group, despite widely differing backgrounds and ages (currently 7-14).

When one child approached me this week to tell me he was becoming frustrated that a smaller child was repeatedly breathing right in his face, I took the younger one aside and reminded him of the rule of Awareness.

“Being aware means watching how your behaviour is affecting others in the room.  If the other person is clearly enjoying this game – laughing and joining in – by all means carry on.  If he’s looking annoyed, unhappy or asking you to stop, then you must decide whether it’s a good game for both of you.”

He looked surprised, thought for a moment, then nodded and stopped.

We’ve talked a lot about bullying.  Many home-educated children have experienced this in the past at school or within their neighbourhoods.  We’ve reached an agreement that’s it’s an unfortunate affliction affecting those who feel powerless or fearful, and therefore choose to boost their own self-esteem by attempting to lower that of another person.  Once the children are able to recognise the neediness of the bully, they can move beyond fear and towards some level of understanding (while taking steps to keep themselves safe, obviously).  However they are in agreement that bullying in any form is not ok.

Activities are provided but participation is optional.  If someone prefers to sit out, that’s fine, as long as they remain responsible and aware and don’t stop others from having fun.

Sometimes there is an element of striving to excel at a task – making paper aeroplanes, for example.  Each child works to improve upon his or her prototype.  We then come together and decide on the best features of each.  ‘Put-downs’ and bragging are absent.  The children have reached a consensus that ‘I win’ necessitates ‘You lose’, and that doesn’t feel too good.

When an activity is finished, everyone takes joint responsibility for helping to clear up and tidy the room.

All sounds quite utopian, doesn’t it?  It certainly feels that way.

 

Last night, though, I found myself wondering whether GLOW’s rules are preparing these children for life in the outside world.  Let’s take, um, politics, for example…

I’m a resolutely apolitical person.  I have no particular allegiance to any party or dogma.  I think life is far more complex than that.

I do however feel deeply saddened by the adversarial system of politics that currently holds sway in my country (the UK) and many others.

Let us, if we can, suspend judgement for a while and accept that those who have chosen to become politicians have done so with at least some intention to provide fairness, protection for the weakest, controls over the most powerful and a ‘decent’ society for all, in whatever way they feel that should be done.  Is it not a shame, then, that their only recourse, once they have entered the political arena, is to score points off others and shout them down?

The House of Commons at Westminster: This engr...

If a spokesperson for the blue party suggests solving a problem by doing A, B or C, the corresponding member of the red party is duty bound to berate this idea, to roundly insult the ‘honourable member’ in as snide and unpleasant a way as possible and to give a range of reasons why A, B or C is completely ridiculous.  This happens regardless of the merits or demerits of the original idea and often in spite of that individual’s personal feelings about it.

Should a member of one party publicly agree with something suggested by their opponents, a bevy of spin doctors will hastily point out that their representative didn’t actually mean to appear to sanction what must, of course, be a bad idea, given its origins.

Have you ever thought how much time and money this unpleasant and pointless haggling and bickering wastes?

I understand that groups called All Party Select Committees manage to sit round a table, put political allegiances aside and debate the actual pros and cons of particular matters.  How pleasant it would be (and – still better – how unappealing to our media moguls) if all politics could be conducted in such a way that consensus, not the outmoded whip system, became the norm.  Individual politicians from different walks of life and with varying points of view could look dispassionately at a range of options, debate them quietly and respectfully and vote for the ones they felt would best serve the country.

The braying, squawking and old-school playground behaviour could cease and we’d have a political system fit for purpose in the twenty-first century and worthy of the young people who are discovering a better way of being.

The GLOW kids could even suggest a suitable set of rules for such a political system…

Robot Building on Windmill Hill

solderingFor those of you unfamiliar with my ‘Glowjan’ alter-ego, let me explain that in amongst the other stuff I get up to, I’ve been helping to facilitate a very loose grouping of home-educated kids called Glastonbury Learning OtherWise (GLOW) for a few years now.  It’s shifted emphasis, venue and membership many times and almost disintegrated on several occasions, but always somehow it’s risen phoenix-like from its own ashes and carried on.

I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s worth noting that the greatest and most positive transformation took place when I decided to stop attempting to run it as a business, to give my time voluntarily and to let it roll in whichever direction it wished.

Back then it was (for me) a source of frustration as I did constant battle with a charitable trust for funding, while many (though certainly not all) parents pushed their kids through the door with a mumbled, “I’ll pay next week – bit short today,” and escaped gleefully for a few child-free hours.

Now it’s a vibrant community where parents wander in to meet one another and chat, bake flapjacks for our snack break and willingly help with clearing up afterwards.  The kids too are relaxed and happier, as they’ve all chosen to be there.  Me?  I’m loving it!

The weirdest thing though, is that there’s always plenty of money!  No more grants.  Families pay a tiny amount to cover the very modest cost of hiring the hall.  Somehow, though, there’s always cash to spare for anything we really need.  The robot workshop is a case in point.

I was approached by a wizard from Devon who offered, for a price, to run this weekend workshop.  At the end of two days, children and their accompanying adults would each build a robot from scratch and be able to take it home.

It sounded like something several of my GLOW kids would love.  It sounded prohibitively expensive.  I decided to put my energy into the first of these facts and to focus on manifesting this workshop.

I talked to parents.   I looked at the magical GLOW funds.  I found several interested families.  I negotiated with the wizard.  He dropped his price.  GLOW put in a few subsidies where they were needed and people started to sign up.

On Saturday the venue was filled with eager parents and children.getting started

And me.

And the wizard.

I was paired with ten-year-old G.  Both her parents were unwell – one of them very unwell – so I got to be her accompanying adult.

As a group we ranged from those who had apparently been born clutching a soldering iron in one hand and a bunch of transistors in the other, to people like G and me, who had never laid eyes or hands on either.

The instructions were clear, though, and thorough.  Step by step we worked through components and circuit boards, gears and switches.  We watched inspirational video clips of robots from around the world and discovered what all the jewel-coloured bits and pieces did to make our robots go.

robot half builtI actually made thiscircuit board

Steadily, our soldering skills developed and we began to make progress.

The wizard warned us that not all would work first time; that some robots would fail to use their little light sensors to follow black lines across the floor and travel obediently around the track with LEDs flashing.

G and I looked at each other.  “Ours will work fine,” we agreed.  G’s getting great at putting her energy into positive places.  She’s discovering how manifesting works.

Others were less certain.  “The whole thing will fry!” announced an expert dad, gloomily.  “The circuit boards are so small.  It’s never going to work.”

Theirs didn’t.

Ours did.  and it works

Ok, it’s not perfect.  Usually it follows the black line, but sometimes it unaccountably takes off on its own across the room, seemingly intent on exploring a far-distant table or cupboard.  When curiosity is sated, it stops and waits for G to patiently retrieve it.

We decided we’d probably imbued our robot (Mad Mouse, she’s named it) with something from our own personalities – happy to go along with the rules until something more interesting appears!

So what insights does the robot experience have for us?

There’s the beautiful energy that forms when a group is brought together by a shared passion to create something new.  Friendships are created, email addresses exchanged and huge amounts of fun are had.

And while we’re on the subject of energy, there’s the analogy between us and the robots.  We learned how the raw energy of a cluster of AA batteries is channelled around that robot body, being modified, stepped up or down, switched and swooshed and diverted about the place until the desired outcome is produced.

I can’t help but notice that this is exactly what goes on in our own bodies as we select where to direct and how to use our energy.  Some of the functions (breathing, digesting…) are unconscious, like current running around a circuit.  Others require imput from the mind – our internal computer.  We have to decide on the desired outcomes and build the program accordingly.

How great that our system is so clever and intuitive, that we only need to hold an intention, then watch the energy flow just where we wanted it to go.

Let’s follow the track sometimes – but not always…

robots working