Last term I accompanied our amazing children to Glasbury House, an outdoor education centre in South Wales. For five days they were free of technology and urban white noise. The instructors really pushed both the staff and pupils to move beyond their fears and out of their comfort zones. Mountains were climbed, rivers were navigated, waterfalls crashed over our helmet shielded heads and we clung to ropes tightly. But above all the day that still makes me both proud and a little afraid was caving.
This involved trusting Richard, our Tolkeinesque guide to lead us deeper into a cave system through passageways and narrow crevice like challenges with names like “the Letterbox”.
Aside from the suppressed claustrophobia and the effort I made to sound “ok” and in control, I was moved by the intense separation we had from the world outside and the impenetrable darkness we experienced could only accentuate this sense.
At one point we stopped in a great hall of rocks and after some settling we were asked to turn off our lights and to just sit and absorb the blackness and silence. Curiously I struggled to think of anything profound, other than wondering what Pie Corbett, author and inspiring literacy consultant would do with such an experience. How would he use this real experience to stimulate writing.
I was excited to see that he responded to my question on Facebook at the end of the week. He took the opportunity to write his own cave poem, which pupils in my school and others used a starting point to build on and remix into their own reflections.I should add this was a number of days later, i was not Facebooking from underground.
I am so grateful for Pie‘s response and I hope that some other children/ teacher can us his poem in their lesson.