Figuring out what things to do

Being a part of a community is a decision, a choice. I’m a staff member at East Kent Sudbury School which I recently wrote could be best described in a nutshell as an intentional community. The intent doesn’t just come in when the times are good, when the sun is shining and everyone is having a blast in the paddling pool, when new students join and experience the bliss of choosing how to spend their time or when cooing over the adorable ducklings brought in by a fellow staff member. These moments are binding of course, the good times forge connections between us. But the intent really comes in when things are tough. And life is full of struggles even, or maybe especially, when you have a community of free individuals.

You decide to be together, to turn up even though you’re a bit tired this morning, to figure out how to play football with the wrong number of players, to make up with your best friend after what she said yesterday, to accept defeat graciously, to wrestle with a complex proposal. At EKSS the community and the choice to be a part of it through good times and bad is a free conscious intentional choice.

So what does a community do when you can no longer meet as normal? The whole world is having to adapt to survive as COVID-19 strips away everything we think of as normal. Whilst we are deeply missing being together physically we have remained together in spirit and adapted to the situation we find ourselves in. EKSS is also a self-governing community, free to change and adapt its structure according to the needs of our members. From day one of lockdown we moved online, continuously asking our members what they need from the community and exploring different ways of interacting, playing, learning and being together. Should we replicate our physical spaces at EKSS virtually? Do we continue with the same meetings and conflict resolution processes or does being online call for something else? Is video calling with Zoom better or text communications via Slack or Discord more organic? I don’t think we have found the perfect solution by any means, some days work better than others, but we continue to experiment, reflect and adapt as we choose to stay together as a community.

Something that has come out of the experience has been a need to be more organised and project based. In a physical space it is easy to gather up participants for a game or activity spontaneously but being online is not like that — few of us can cope with 6 hours of straight video call so there is a greater need to know what’s happening and when. And our members responded to this need creatively with all kinds of activities I would not have believed possible over video link a few months ago like cook-alongs, music classes, collaborative story writing, board games with a set in each house and hours and hours of conversation and play. We have also sought individually and collectively to express the experience of lockdown. Which has come subconsciously through the hangman words we choose and more overtly through our art and music. Most perfectly illustrated by this song written by our mixed-age members with singer/songwriter Mimi O’Halloran. All the old rules are gone, suddenly we are all figuring out what things to do.

Lockdown blues

I’ve got the lockdown blues
Drawin’ rainbows hanging ’em on the window
Not got dressed for days
Tired of kneading dough
Got put on furlough
Can’t see anyone
Run out of hype
Wanna go out
8 hours on skype
Got to think what things to do

I’ve got the lockdown blues
Clappin’ for the NHS at 8pm
Washing my hands all day
Feel like we’ve lost our way
When will this nonsense end?
Standin’ in the queue
Don’t wanna get the flu
Getting the paper
Goes down the loo
Got to think what things to do

I’ve got the lockdown blues
It’s my birthday, shame it happened in May
Party games on zoom
No friends to come, just me and the postman
I went to the park
To hug the trees
My hayfever started
Tryin’ not to sneeze
Got to think what things to do

Learning in the Time of Corona

Sharing and reflecting on the relationship between learning and freedom during this time of transition in education. Get involved https://freedomtolearn.uk/index.php/network/network-projects/learning-in-the-time-of-corona

Kezia Cantwell-Wright

Written by

Learning in the Time of Corona

Sharing and reflecting on the relationship between learning and freedom during this time of transition in education. Get involved https://freedomtolearn.uk/index.php/network/network-projects/learning-in-the-time-of-corona

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