Is there a ‘right way’ to think and live?

Although China has had many violent periods in its history, there have not been wars fought in the names of the different belief systems that we have studied. The different ways of living (Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian) have coexisted peacefully and complemented one another.

Following from this, we discussed whether there is a ‘right way’ to think and live, which feels like an important question to ask at a time when London and many other parts of the world are subject to terrorist violence.

Here’s a selection of thoughts from the class. The general feeling seems to be ‘yes,’ there is a right and a wrong way, but not just one right way, an infinite number of possibilities – and the world is better for this diversity. As Faith says, difference is a good thing not bad.

Kaliyah. There are definitely right and wrong ways of thinking and some people have definitely passed the limit; they have started to do things that are totally unnecessary: terrorist attacks and killing. There is definitely not just one right and wrong way of living because everybody is different and their brain has developed differently. If we tried to make everyone the same we would fail because we aren’t all the same.

Sylvie. Different people have different backgrounds and different experiences and no-one is the same so why should we try to force people into thinking one idea, to one peephole on the world. Life is much richer if there are more possibilities. There is a line – you cannot accept racism, sexism, violence etc. – but the world is complex and one plane of understanding would be strange, almost inhuman as everyone’s different.

Jim. I believe there kind of is a right and a wrong way of thinking and living but I feel there should be more than one right way. But you should be free to think what you want to an extent. As long as you follow the basic rules of law and rights I feel that is the right way. No one is the same so everyone has a different interpretation of life. Jacob picks up the point about the role law, saying ‘Maybe in some ways all people are the same because of laws but if it wasn’t for laws there would be war at least once a year.’

Emily. There is no right way to understand the world. Everyone has different experiences, so everyone will believe different things because no two people are exactly the same. So if you take an extremist/terrorist and ask why are they like that, because people are not born wanting to kill, it is the people around them and their experiences who shape who they are.

Olivia. We all have different experiences, so having one right way of thinking and living is basically impossible, and it would make our world boring, and no-one would learn from their mistakes, making us unintelligent creatures who do only one thing.

Myah. I think that the wrong way is saying things like everyone should be the same and no-one should be individual, and the right way is persuading people to think for themselves.

Faith. There are 100,000,000,000 ways of thinking. Some people believe in monsters and spirits, some don’t. Different people believe in different things. It would be weird if everyone was alike in the world – our memories are different. Difference is a good thing not bad.

We’d normally stay away from politics on this blog, and President Trump does not get a good press from many in 6CM, but a post today from daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, in response to the latest violence in London, feels helpful to our discussion.  She wrote: “Even if my neighbor doesn’t understand my religion or understand my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me. It is always within my power to build a bridge. There is always a chance for reconciliation, a chance that one day he and I will sit around a table together and put an end to our history of clashes. And on this day, he will tell me his story and I will tell him mine.”

 

 

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Ancient Chinese wisdom

We’ve been continuing learning about ways of thinking and living in China.  Here are some of 6CM’s interpretations of ancient proverbs from the Dao De Jing.

Dao de jing

The wise man is one who knows what he does not know

  • No-one knows everything in the world so we should learn. (Nathan)
  • If you think you know everything and don’t listen, you won’t know everything, because everyone has their own talents and life experiences, so everyone is worth listening to and an intelligent person will know that. (Emily)
  • It means that you might think you know a lot but there is more you need to know. (Reaiah)

The truth is not always beautiful nor beautiful words the truth.

  • It means the truth can be horrible.  And not everything is good.  It also means that just because something sounds the way you want it to sound, it does not mean it is true. (Jim)
  • I think that it means that the truth can be anything; maybe you won’t like the truth, but you have to accept it.  You can’t change it or shape it how you want it – it doesn’t have to be beautiful, but it’s still the only truth. (Sarafina)
  • When someone tells you something, it won’t always come out how you want it. (Nathan)

Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water is clear?

  • Sometimes your mind gets clouded up with things and feelings, which can be confusing, but if you wait, eventually things will settle and come clear and show you what to do.  (Ellie)

A journey of 1000 miles begins where you stand

  • Every journey has a beginning – no matter how far or how big it may seem, there is always a first step. (Nina)

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.  Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt

  • You can only do so much.  If you keep trying so hard to make it good, it will turn bad.  When you strive for perfection, it will never be perfect.   Everything has balance. You do this; this will happen. (Sarafina)
  • I think this means you should never have too much of anything, you should have the right amount of it and your life will be good.  Also, if you try too hard to find perfection your attempts might turn against you, making your life worse. (Olivia)

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.

  • Just be yourself around other people and then they will like you because you don’t try to change who you are. (Faisal)

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.

Ellie

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.

Nathan

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.

Ignas

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.

Myah

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…

Ellie

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.

Ignas

 

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…

Jim

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.

Jim

 

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.

Zeca

 

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.

Kyrell

 

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.

Patrick

 

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.

Faisal

 

Nature versus nurture

We talked today about how we are shaped, as human beings, both by our genetic inheritance and by our environment (our life experiences and the choices that we make). reaiah

The children had to try to say which – genes or life experience – they thought was a more important influence on their development as a person.  Most thought it was their environment.

  • Zeca:  I personally think that the way you were born doesn’t matter.  The most important thing to me is nurture.
  • Sylvie:  I think the most important is probably environmental because it’s how you’re brought up that determines how happy you are or how your personality is built.
  • Faisal:  I think environment more than genes because you choose what you want to do and you choose the path you want to follow.
  • Sonny:  My life is more important than my genes.
  • Sarafina.  Environment shapes you as a person.  You kind of have a growth mindset if you believe in nurture.  If you don’t it’s a bit like you’re saying ‘I’m born this way and I can’t change it.’
  • Jim says that he’s grown up in a protective environment with caring parents.  He says, ‘Even if I had been born in a  troubled part of the world, and had the same parents, I would still be roughly who I am now.’
  • Nina gave this careful and balanced assessment:  I have inherited my mouth, teeth, nose, and eyebrows from my dad.  I got my eyes, hair colour and ears from my mum.  My parents both run and I think that I inherit half of that from them but I train and do a lot of cross country running to help…. and get lots of encouragement.   I personally think that you could be born with a talent and not practise or you could not be born with a talent but train really hard and succeed.  I think that envrionment and nurture is more important because it’s your choice of what to do or be.

Add your own thoughts by replying to this post.  

Bonus question: which member of the class has evolved from this young lady?

claire

 

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?