#3000 chairs (empty chairs for Syrian refugees)
Katie’s chair #3000chairs
Some of our Year 6 children wrote letters to our local MP, Rory Stewart, in response to him voting against allowing 3000 unaccompanied child refugees into Britain. Mr Stewart visited our school 2 years ago and took part in a discussion around the question: Is war still relevant?
These Year 6s were pleased to receive a 2 page personalised letter from Mr Stewart which provided a detailed explanation in response to their questions. The children were particularly interested to learn more about the convention of ‘ministerial collective responsibility’ where members must support government decisions, even if they do not agree with them.
Mr Stewart also said our letters were ‘extremely well written and neatly presented’ and was ‘so pleased you are taking such a keen interest in matters important to you and engaging with me as your MP’.
We also looked at another response to the outcome of the vote by author Nicola Davies. She has written a poem inspired by a story she heard about a refugee child arriving at a school and being turned away because they didn’t have a chair – returning the next day with a broken chair.
You can read Nicola’s poem here.
Keira, Jessica and Thea read out the poem to the class and we had a long discussion about the effect it had on the reader. We all agreed it was a very powerful poem. We loved the narrative behind the poem and how it started with the girl’s everyday life in school at ‘home’ – that could well be our own classroom – learning about volcanoes and tadpoles. A universal classroom. Anywhere. We thought the personification of war was extremely effective. We liked all the repetition and it felt like the poem was speaking to ‘us’. Looking at the language, imagery and emotive response to the poem with such depth was fantastic preparation for our SAT Reading Comprehension test the following week!
Jackie Morris #3000chairs
We read about how Nicola Davies had then read her poem to a friend, Jackie Morris, who is an illustrator (we have a few of her beautifully illustrated books in school). She was inspired to draw a chair and this has started a huge campaign(#3000 chairs) with lots of other illustrators drawing, photographing and sculpting chairs. We looked at these in class and we loved seeing some of the chairs by our favourite illustrators such as Sarah McIntyre and Chris Houghton.
You can see all the chairs here.
Immediately inspired, we drew our own chairs.
We also looked at examples of installations of chairs used to symbolise hope, loss or peace. This included looking at memorials for the Krakow Ghetto in Poland, the Oklahoma Bombing in USA and the Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand. Of course we couldn’t resist having a philosophical discussion while we were drawing our chairs.
Can anything be a memorial?
Is there anything that couldn’t be a memorial?
What makes something more appropriate as a memorial than another thing?
What does it mean to commemorate?
What does it mean to remember?
How are commemorate and remember the same?
How are commemorate and remember different?
Is there anything that would symbolise emptiness/loss better than a chair?
Why do humans look to find meaning in objects?
Mrs Yates recently went on a really interesting RE training provided by Lat Blaylock from RE Today and she says we are going to be doing some learning next term about Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand (to tie in with our music project at Carlisle Cathedral). Watch this space! We love it when our learning all links up together in a meaningful way…