Balance in life

Exploring what it might mean to find “balance” or “harmony” in our lives is at the heart of the study we are making of Chinese ways of thinking and living. Here are some very interesting opening thoughts from the class.

  • I think the balance is you can’t have too much of one thing but you need a little bit of everything. You also need to have a back-up plan for your normal plan because you don’t know what’s ahead of you. Life is full of surprises, so whatever the world throws at you, you have to go through it with courage.   Meshach
  • Your life shouldn’t be so dull and balanced [that it becomes] boring like a straight line. But it shouldn’t be too chaotic and erratic either. It should be up and down, with some scared moments and some happy ones.  Sarafina


  • I think balance in life is not necessarily focusing on just one thing…. As humans, I think we don’t want chaotic lives but we don’t want perfectly sane ones either. Also we want a balance between work and play – we don’t want all-work-no-play lives, nor all-play-no-work ones, because we need balance in our lives.  Archie
  • I think that balance in life means you can’t have ups without downs, or downs without ups. And not everything is perfect. I also think it means if you want something you have to fight for it instead of just getting it. For example, if you want a future job you can’t just say you want it but you have to work your way up to it. Myah
  • I don’t believe the way of living life is as simple as “balance.” My view is probably not to shape life into an equal, samey life but to let it flow. Sylvie
  • You can’t aim for one thing because life is unpredictable so you need other plans. You can’t always be angry, you need happiness as well. You can’t only look at your views, you have to look at the other person’s argument… You can’t only look at yourself, you need to realise there are other people, and that you have to learn and care about others as well as yourself.  Gabriel
  • I think you need balance in life to have a happy life because you always need an opposite like fire and water – you need water to put out the fire. Ignas
  • To be healthy you need to be even in your mind and spirit.  Faith
  • Everyone has a different balance because everyone likes and needs different things.

The Dao

In our project on ways of thinking and living in China, we are trying to open our minds to new ideas and ways of understanding the world.

Is this a good or a bad place for a tree to grow?  Ask your children to give you the Daoist perspective!
tree on rock

Here are some of the class’s thoughts on the unfathomable “Dao” and the yin and yang.   They said the Dao is

– how we are all connected to nature and everything around us (Olivia)
– the rhythm of nature and Earth (Sarafina)
– the way of life and nature (Kaliyah)
– a big world, small people (Reaiah).

On Yin and Yang, that they
– show how even opposite things need each other…. how everything in life is linked (Olivia)
– are opposites but need to be in balance to be right (Ignas)
– are the balance in the world (Ellie)
– show how opposites cannot live without one another (Kyrell).


Somebody or nobody

6CM performed a class poem entitled Somebody or nobody at this morning’s Rosendale ‘poetry slam’ hosted by poet and rapper Breis.


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We used Emily Dickinson’s I’m Nobody! and Muhammad Ali’s Last night I had a dream as inspiration and wrote poems about being a ‘somebody’ or a ‘nobody’.  There are a series of poems that respond to one another.  Breis gave special mention to Myah (for her performance) and Jim, Archie and Nathan (for their words).  Later, Breis came into the classroom and read the children’s poems back to them – which was exciting to listen to.

Here are the poems in the order they were performed.

Somebody or nobody?

Why be somebody
When you can be nobody.
Why have fame
And have many know your name.
Why not be backstage –
Instead of in spotlight’s cage.
So why be somebody,
When you can be nobody?

Nina, Olivia and Sylvie

I love to be in the spotlight
I love to have fortune and fame
I love to be up on stage in sight
So people can call out my name.
I love luxury and riches
No matter the cost or price
Sometimes it lands me in stiches
But I don’t mind rolling the dice.

Nell and Sarafina

Sometimes it’s nice to be simple
Who needs fame and fortune
Just to live a simple life
And one you won’t regret.
Who needs to be in the newspaper
Who needs to be on TV
Just live a life – a simple life
And that’s the one for me.


I’m great, unlike you!

You crumble like cake
You got jealous of my hair
Whilst you wear a wig
Like Donald Trump
You think you’re so big
I’ll get you a grave to dig
And your wallet’s getting thinner
Mine’s bigger
Like my lyrics

Archie and Jim

We are cool
We left school
We lurk late
We strike straight
We sing sin
We drink gin
We jazz in June
We will die soon.

Caspar and Mohammed

My name’s Nathan
My cut stings
Like a bee
I’m just a wannabee
Stop trying to steal my sweets!
You can’t see me
In my lambourghini
Which is black
I’m black
I’m invisible
So you can’t see me
So stop trying
I’m perfect
So crown me.


The spotlight shines on you
For you crave it.
You are a somebody
You hate the gloom
And I’m a nobody
At the back of the room
Watching you walk
Listening to you croak your name.


I’m angry, I’m angry
And I just can’t keep it in
I wanna scream and shout
I really wanted to win
Then rain falls down
Filling my shoes to the brim.
How lonely I am
As the anger kicks in.

I’m angry, I’m angry
My life is a lie
My brain keeps teasing me
I wish I could die!
I am so weary
I sleep in day
And wake up to the sound of a light.

I’m happy, I’m happy
I’ve just had an idea
How about I make some friends
And do it with cheer.
Little did I know,
There was someone at the door,
And I didn’t hear.


Modern day Goldilocks

Enjoy Ellie, Ignas and Jim’s writing and reflect on what good writers you are all becoming – and please add a comment in independent learning.  (The writing this week was a modern retelling of the Goldilocks fairy tale.  The focus was on adding detail to description, varying sentence structure and varying punctuation including experimenting with dashes.)


For as long as she could remember, Chloe had admired the beautiful, grand house that stood in the middle of Rosemale Road.  Chloe imagined herself opening the small, rectangular gate and sitting on the perfectly-mowed lawn reading a good book.  After that, she imagined sitting on the picnic bench under the willow tree and eating lunch, which would be made in the glorious kitchen, then trotting back up to the house to explore.

Leaning against the lamp post on the other side of the street, Chloe stared at the house.  How she longed to live there!  Her dream bubble was popped by a loud slam noise of a door in front of her.  Three people came out: the mother, who had a sharp, pointed face and carefully plucked eyebrows, came out first; then came the father, who was slouched back like he couldn’t care less; finally came the son, skipping joyfully, blond curls bobbing (a typical child of three).

Chloe could see they hadn’t locked the door – her eyes flickered and twitched.  She crossed the road and stared at the house.  This was her chance to have a good look.  She grabbed it.  Chloe unlatched the gate, ran up the gravel path and opened the dark oak door.  She was inside.

She stole into the house.  She was quivering – goosebumps ran up her arm.  She had done it.  Finally.  The grandfather clock chimed 12.  She looked over to it and as she did she smelt the most amazing smell of soup, which was her favourite food.  She sniffed and the smell led her to what she assumed was the kitchen.  On the table in the middle were three bowls of soup.  She looked at them.  She smelt each one.  She looked for the cutlery drawer, took out a spoon and took a big mouthful of soup from the biggest bowl.  Her tongue was on fire but it gave her warmth.  The bowl was too hot.  Maybe she should try the smaller ones…


For as long as she could remember, Katarina had admired the house at the top of the hill.  It was overflowing with multi-coloured flowers (of all types).  It was a tall, elegant house with the finest lawn in the whole of the world.  It had a beautiful gravel path that wound around a cherry tree and led you to the gigantic oak door at the front.  The house was covered in the finest of red brick – constructed by the private building service.  

The next day Katarina was hanging around the house when she heard the doors slam and a family of three came out.  They were all wearing cream suits – apart from the mum who was wearing a cream dress – and they walked across the gravel drive to their range rover.   Then it came into Katarina’s head – she could break in!  So when the family was out of sight, she ran up the winding gravel path to the front oak doors and checked if anyone was looking.  The door was open ajar, so she flicked off the latch and was in!

Katarina ended up in the hallway; it had the most beautiful chandelier and a massive spiral staircase.  She decided to take her first left and she ended up in the kitchen.  It was full of the most beautiful china.   On the table were three plates of chicken, so she tried the first but it was too spicy; so she tried the last and it was just right.  Once she had finished the thought came to her head that she had broken in.  She felt anxious and excited at the same time and wondered what would happen next.



For as long as she could remember, Marsha had admired the light, elegant, glass-paneled house on the top of Curns Hill.  She could imagine herself passing her time in the light-filled turret reading Full Metal Alchemist (her favourite manga).  The front garden was flooded with roses and tulips and surrounded by hedges in all shapes and forms.  Marsha, who was very envious of the owners of this house, stared at the roof-top jacuzzi , longing to be relaxing whilst watching TV.  There was a long gravel road that went up to the house, which veered around a statue of a naked, golden cherub.  Along the side of the house was a red-brick studio, which was half the size of the house, and also had a roof-top jacuzzi in between two long circular speakers.

Just then, a rich, Hispanic family came out through a heavily embroidered door.  The dad – who had a fair, wavy, Donald Trump-like wig – led the family.  All three of them, two adults and one child, trotted in an off-beat manner.  Hiding behind a bush, Marsha had to hold herself back from exploring her dream house.  The mum of the family – was was incredibly young – flicked her hair as if she was flirting.  Then they all clambered into their chunky, white Range Rover and revved a couple of times and drove away with the back wheels spinning out of control on the gravel path.  Marsha, who could not restrain herself any longer, ran up the drive way past the cherub, flicked the catch and was in.  She looked back and saw the car pass the horizon.  

Marsha took a deep breath and her lungs filled with the sweet aroma of roses, tulips and honey.  As she looked around, she saw what looked like a hat rack but instead held the dad’s wigs!  She traveled through the living room to the kitchen.  Bang!  Marsha froze.  She was sure they had all left.  But what if she was wrong?  It was the dog – Marsha carried on.   She saw a bowl of dark fruits: kiwis, plums, blackberries and blueberries.  She stuffed them all in her mouth.  The taste was like a party on Marsha’s tongue.  The house was so messy – not what she had expected from an ‘upper-class family.’  Coffee cups everywhere, tea bags in the sink and even three slices of banoffee pie.  With trembling hands, Marsha reached for the biggest slice of pie.  Too creamy.  Maybe the smallest would do…


Macbeth’s sililoquy – the boys

The boys’ sililoquies have mostly not recorded well unfortunately – so here are just a few of them.





What have I become?
Have the three hags made me a monster? Nay, it was I who put the wicked forces upon me.
Will all the oceans clean me of this guilt?
No, but rather turn the sea incarnadine.
Blood begets blood: Duncan, now Macduff.
When will the noble blood stop spilling?
Even the throne does not b ring me happiness but instead melancholy.
Away Duncan! Away damn vision that haunts my eyes!
Life is but a candle melting away till the light goes.
It is not worth living.



What is happening to me?
Why have I slaughtered?
My veins are poisoned with desire to kill.
I was once a hero, then I committed treason.
My life is Scotland’s defeat.
Blood brings blood; why did I start this?
No matter.
What’s done is done.



What have I turned into?
A great leader, loved and trusted by my men.
Now a shell of a man, diminished to king killer. My best friend, children, many innocent lives.
Taken because of my greed.
I am tortured by my deeds!
I don’t recognise the man I’ve become
These hands have become possessed. I have gone too far to be able to turn back.



What shall I be?
A killer of a warrior.
Forces of evil made me a king killer.
Will nothing get rid of the horror from my body?
Blood begets blood; first my king, then my friend, and then innocents.
The blood began to ooze into the river of my soul.
Is there no end to this slaughter?
This isn’t happiness; this is death.



What have I become?
Is this regret in my eyes?
Why must I cause this endless violence?
Lady Macbeth and myself are strangers
These hands will never be rid of the blood of a king and best friend.
Greed has got the better of me and I shall suffer the consequences.
These damned visions will die with me.



Thoughts about war

We ended our study of the Second World War by reflecting on war generally; on whether war can ever be justified; and on whether, as individuals, we think that we might ever be prepared to fight in a war.  

Although the Second World War is now part of history, we discussed the terrible fighting currently taking place on the edge of Europe (images of Aleppo in Syria that we looked at were similar to many of the images that we had studied of cities destroyed in the Second World War).  We agreed that, although we are fortunate to live in a stable part of the world, we should not think of war as something that only happens in other places to other people at other times, and that it’s important to develop our own views and understanding about issues of war and peace.  Here’s a selection of the reflections.

Ignas said: “I’ve learned that “the Second World War was a horrific time of death and anger and that we should try to prevent war in the future.”  Jim similarly: “..war is unimaginably awful and scars people for life”.   Nell said, “I have learned how lucky we are to be in a safe part of the world and how we should be grateful for our health and homes.”

Ellie wrote: “I’ve learned that war is about blood and bravery, right and wrong, and great and evil leaders.   War is life changing and always life ending.  My views on war haven’t and will not change.   I believe that if you start a war out of choice your innards are ugly and black and you are inhuman to be so cruel.”

The children reflected on what had helped them to understand the nature of war.  Sarafina said: “I’ve learned that the Second World War was a cold, dark, dangerous time in history….  What helped me understand was family history, other people’s points and perspectives , and stories of what happened to them.”  Nina: “The family histories made me understand war from different perspectives.  Images of war helped me see what was going on.  The Silver Sword makes me realise that children go through dangerous times too.”

There were lots of different points of view on whether war could ever be justified.  Ignas: “I think that we have to be prepared to fight but we have to try every resort before we do… we are fighting for peace not for fun.”   Temmyyaa:  “I have learned that war isn’t about yourself, it’s about people you care for…. I would be able to fight for my country, the people I care for.”

On the other side,  Caspar: “I’m an absolute pacifist, because I hate the idea of killing.” Sylvie:  “I think I am a pacifist.  I just think it’s wrong and I couldn’t bring myself to kill people living who have feelings and families who care for them.  And if it wasn’t war, we could have been friends.”  Sarafina: “I am an absolute pacifist.  I would never, ever go out to fight in a war.  People don’t understand what they’re doing.  As soon as they sign their name, their life has changed.”

Nell tries to take a balanced view: “ I don’t feel war is a solution but in a way I understand why we had them because the Nazis needed to be stopped.”   Jim says, “War can be justified and can bring out good leaders.   Also we can learn from it and make sure it never happens again.”  Do you think Jim’s right?  Can we learn from history?

Book reviewer of the week – Ignas

If you log in to the Rosendale Book Club you can have a look at Ignas’s bookshelf.  Here are a few of Ignas’s wry comments on books he’s read.

Paddington Bear is a really funny book about a bear who has come from the darkest Peru and this book is full of marmalade. Lots and lots of marmalade. (5 stars)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one over my favourite books.  It’s funny, weird and quirky in lots of different ways. (5 stars)Wonderful-Wizard-of-Oz-100th-Anniversary-cover-small.jpg

The story of Matilda is the story of a girl who is really brainy and has some manners unlike her rotten family. (4 stars)

The Jungle Book is a very exciting story about a boy called Mowgli who was raised by wolves but there’s one problem – Mowgli is being hunted by a tiger called Shere Khan who killed his father. (5 stars)