Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Chickens, Tuvalu, taiaha & daylight

Learning is a funny beast; sometimes you seek to learn, and at other times it sneaks up behind you and draws you in. Other times it can be the mark of the teacher, when the learning is not about you, but the pleasure you take in others building knowledge.  In one particular instance this week, I was not the instigator of the learning, just a facilitator and an observer.  It was all the more satisfying not because it was life-changing or significant, but just for the natural way the learning occurred for my children (actually my children, not the ones in my class).


We have been looking after the neighbour's chickens. This is not something that my children would have even considered 12 months ago, in the metropolis of Tokyo.  But a change in environment brings about a shift in focus, and the ignition of interests that promote questions of a different ilk.

It is not a taxing task, but it has provided my two with a chance to observe something new and interesting.  There have been many questions. Why is the egg like that? Why are we feeding them that? How do they talk? Where does the egg come out? Why is the egg not a chicken? How can we make it a chicken? Why didn't that egg become hard? What is that strange skin like sack coming off the end of the egg? 

Some of these questions I was able to answer, some required us doing searching to fill the void. At the end of the day, I was just pleased that it was learning from experience.  Greatest of all is the curiosity that it sparked, and the satisfaction on their little faces when they encountered some things that 'grossed them out', some 'surprising' facts, and a few, 'What?' moments.


I was sitting down at lunch today with some friends and the weather was beautiful.  There was a cultural performance on the uni lawn. There was a flag that I couldn't quite place, I knew it wasn't Fiji, Tonga or some of the others being bandied about, but was at a loss.

Soon we learnt it was for Tuvalu Independence Day.  It wasn't unlike many of the flags from countries in the South Pacific.  The general curiosity was around what the stars meant.  We all figured it was something to do with the islands that made up the country.  It was interesting to get home and read that it was a flag of much debate in its own right. 


Before lunch we had an HPE tutorial where there was going to be a focus on te rakau, Maori movement, and taiaha with Tihoi Taylor. Walking in to it, I did not have the faintest inkling that is was going to be so positively engaging, challenging, enlightening, and an absolute blast to boot.  

There are often times that words cannot do an experience justice.  It is often at this point that we make the 'words can't do it justice' statement and then fumble around a few weak metaphors and a little hyperbole in an attempt to do it. I don't think I will, I will just let one of his videos do the talking. Suffice it to say there was a lot of learning.


This is the first daylight savings that my family has been back for.  They have been here for the long summer nights before, but never the changing of the clock.  It was a little body clock shock for a few on the first day, but no real adjustment issues to speak of.  Probably the greatest shift has been a cultural one.  'Is it okay to play outside after dinner?' is what the wife asked on Sunday night.
'Sure, why not? Its school holidays and there is no need to get up early tomorrow' I offered back. 

It made me think back to the long nights we used to spend outside after schools on long summer evenings in the South Island.  The social opportunities were endless.  We played 'go home, stay home' till it got dark, rugby until you couldn't see where your kicks ended up, and built bike tracks until you could not see where the jump's run ups started.  I acknowledge that it was a different time and some are uncomfortable with the safety issues around that sort of freedom these days, but as I type with a smile on my face, children are playing games of tag and stick ball out the window. 

I do love daylight savings. 

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