Tag Archives: education

Lovers’ Loan

 Our school flag shines inside a gale, as we are about to abandon the Old AHS for brand new walls at Clickimin….

This morning, one single thought dawned on me: our final day with our pupils at our familiar street address, Lovers’ Loan.

I share a common blend of feelings, like so many of us – torn with leaving a great headland and the Old Institute Sir Arthur Anderson had built in the name of education (1862) and shifting into a state of the art 21st century building.

To mark such move, I penned a piece now with the New Shetlander for a future issue.

Cheerio, Lovers’ Loan

We pile boxes upon boxes, whilst our

sky 

lashes tears in rain – 

for this last 

day,

bairns fill corridors with voices only 

a ghoul 

will

memorise…

The green and gold of our

old flag

flap

in

a

gale 

we cannot stop.

Speckled swaabies in search of toast some pupil

parted on

wet grass –

they know the restaurant

will close, 

watch silhouettes behind

lit glass. 

October signals 

departure from granite walls,

shiny square slates…

Our final day at Lovers Loan 

wi bairns

an aa.
Lerwick, Old AHS, 4 Oct 2017


I will miss our “Hogwarts”.

From one era into the next. 

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tilbake

flying norge Back with eight bairns/ åtte barn

I never thought I would be back with eight pupils and a member of staff, leading them all to twelve days of Norwegian experience in families and school.

It took just under a month (from our new term in Shetland) to land back at Flesland, and wander back in my now familiar Bryggen i Bergen, Vågen, via Bybanen – Bergen’s Light Railway that links BGO to the great sentrum – only this time for a pioneering trip to 62N.

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I love school exchanges. I still reminisce that in Germany three years ago, led by my colleague and friend Peter Haviland. This one, however, had a couple of twists: back to familiar territory, and, unique in its nature, for it encompassed four Shetland schools with that in Måløy, Sogne og Fjordane, on the island of Vågsøy. It felt such a great honour to be vetted with both such leadership responsibilities and setting a precedent by both the Association – under the helm of Graham Nicolson and Per Kåre Nybakk – and my school. Three years earlier, I was asked to find host families for a small party of young Norwegians by friend and Shetland-Måløy Twinning Association… This time, I would return with a small group I affectionately christened “the Shetland Gang”. That first term at my High School in Lerwick would prove both hectic, challenging and exciting!

The trip proved to be epic! A two-day trek that would require two boats (Shetland-Arberdeen and Bergen-Måløy) and an aeroplane (ABZ-BGO). And what a saga!

on the fast boat norge

Back in the mythical land, back in what I have always called heim since I first stepped onto Norwegian soil… Where I feel home on this other side of the North Sea.

Back in Måløy, Anita’s homeground… The one who opened the door to it all – NYBAKK, more than a boat, a clan, now my Norwegian family. My first visit there would prove the stepping stone to this year’s voyage and exchange. The great Norskie jigsaw is shaping up with flair and grace.

The ride would prove long and tiring for us all, as we arrived long after dusk on 14 September and engulfed ourselves inside the ferry terminal. Arve was there, with such a huge smile! Our host families, ready to welcome those young Shettis, as the school’s Rektor (Headmaster) Kåre Bakke nicknamed us all, for a good night sleep before our very first day at his establishment. Happy but exhausted.

62N sign

Some stories to write and share! A brand new taste of Norwegian life began for all. And each of us – pupil & staff – experienced our own along the way. For my part, I was reunited with Anne-Mabel, Arve and Jarl Eirik at Gate 6. And my temporary Norwegian home life was rekindled with unbound joy. Immersed in norsk (with flings of English to relieve my brain!) inside their home, with family and friends, would help me improve my humble knowledge of Nynorsk, and local dialect. Challenged by so many voices, including that of a friendly story teller on the first Friday night at Kraftstasjonen Restaurant! What a night! Anne Mabel and Arve ensured I would have a memorable time, and that they managed effortlessly. I really felt home; helped out Jarl Eirik with homework, felt an integral part of the clan, especially once Sam (their dog) accepted me fully… Hmmm. I knew that leaving them would mean tears in my heart, and it did. They ensured I would explore this wonderful island called Vågsøy.

brig brua to M

heim (home) with a view

sunrise fra heim

to each sunrise, new adventure!

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skog trening (forest hiking) with Anne-Mabel, Jarl Eirik and Arve for fun!

The Educational Experience

Up at 0630 every morning – each school day began at 0830 and finished at 1410. The Norwegian system encompasses different ethics, which would either make smile or terrorise any British teacher! Some differences – from the day structure to the more informal working relationship – we all tasted for five full days. Our Shetland Gang was challenged every day, and undertook a blend of private study, assembling and delivering their Shetland presentation (as requested by the Association) which they delivered on nearly 10 different occasions to a myriad of class groups – as well as start preparing their own for Shetland, and they even cooked for their Norwegian counterparts & Rektor. Colleague and friend Tanya Myhre would keep us smiling every morning. The In-School programme shaped up for such pioneering experience, and, every single member of staff made us welcome and fully supported. My Deputy Leader would also prove invaluable on a daily basis. What an eye opener!

But we did more than this.

Whereas Tuesday was spent visiting four different local businesses around Måløy, the final Saturday would be felt as the ultimate prize: sightseeing in and around Geiranger , where we also celebrated one of our pupil’s 14th birthday. I believe he will never forget.

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trekking through the mountains

Geiranger fjorden

Geiranger at water level

perspektiv norge

stepping out at snow level on the roof of Western Norway

Per Kåre Nybakk and Kåre Bakke worked hand in hand all all levels, and employed a gang of host drivers for such unforgettable experience. I cannot thank them and everyone enough for enabling this entire trip.

An experience our young Shettis and us, team, would never forget.

our sihouettes at the top of the mountain

Some extraordinary stories to tell about their Norskie life chapters, as well as to share with their families & friends back home. Our journey back to our islands’ shore proved as epic as the inbound adventure, as we had to overnight in Aberdeen because of flight and boat timings… But we made it, and now we are resettling into our Shetland lives, we are barely beginning to share our tales.

 

Thank you, Graham, Per Kåre, Valerie, Mandy, Peter and Lewie, for all your support along the way – Marina, for accompanying such pioneering trip, Tanya, Kåre and everyone at the Vågsøy ungdomskule for all help and friendliness, Anne-Mabel, Arve and Jarl Eirik, for having me at home – as well as all our host families and friends. But foremost, to you all, dear Shetland Gang. You were awesome 🙂

kannesteinen

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mapped

  My flair served me right once more. To dull Saturday afternoon, I felt compelled to find out how the world’s cartographers, marine charters and surveyors – from the Antiquities to the past century – looked at this corner of the realm.
Thule, no longer a mystery.

    

 

Through centuries & millennia, mariners have relied to hydrographic charters for navigation, and search for safe passages.

      
  I love the way those surveyors shaped the islands, and even if wars stimulated needs of monarchs – or politicians & merchants – the Dutch remained rhe champions of all marine charters! 

  
And for those of you, lucky enough to visit my local museum in Letwick, Da Gadderie celebrates the life & work of James Robertson, the Shetlander who mapped Jamaica.

  
What a fabulous insight into the world of maps
 

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viking

IMG_0799Not an occupational hazard, but a marvellous world, where we, poets, writers and artists, mingle and collaborate to bring alive our heritage.

This weekend, somewhere in Norfolk, at King’s Lynn Hanse House, a multi-disciplinary collaborative project – entitled The Nine Realms – is celebrating the Viking world. It is the fruit from a wonderful tree, curated and nurtured by Nicky Mortlock c/o ArtiPeeps. It has brought together a long boat load of writers and artists, as well as a boat (head) carver and Millfield School – younglings, who have been participating to the project in their own words.

Two links here, should you wish to acquire a copy of The Nine Realms’ Poetry Book, and or The Nine Realms’ School Book. Now, and if you are lucky enough to visit Norfolk – King’s Lynn this weekend and/or Norwich Library – where there will be poetry read by the poets present there on Monday – please do go along and leave your prints in the guest book! I, the poet based on my 60N latitude, am here in spirit.

“Vikings Ahoy!”, Nicky and all!

Have a marvellous time, everyone!

nine realms8

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Vikings

It is Up-Helly-Aa Day on the island and two squads of Vikings are rampaging through our world until their boats end up in flames after sunset.
Merriment follows through the night.
Here,
the Junior Jarl Squad in full swing just at the start of Period 1…

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Armistice Week 2014

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One hundred years on,
10 million dead,
another 10 million crippled, too many headstones… Vanished hearts – brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins… My great grand father, Pépé Duval, was a stretcher-bearer on his country’s battlefields, lunar landscapes… He, like millions of men, was thrown into a carnage, brain-washed by a propaganda led by warmongers. He was lucky enough to return home, twice gassed and deeply scarred for the rest of his life, shell-shocked…

One hundred years on,
How can we forget?

Some politicians (at least in France) attempted to “turn the page” by declaring we should drop the bucket… Sorry, we have a duty to honour those who were sacrificed against their full will. Nobody wishes to endure what so many million men endured in horrid conditions… I recently read that, in some cases, 1 1/2 mile recovered in No Man’s Land cost well over 200,000 lives. That is more than sacrifice, this is a crime against humanity.
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Over the course of such week, leading to Remembrance Day on 9 November around the UK, the Anderson High School, my school, has honoured all those fallen in and around Western Europe.

1200 North Islanders on the Orkney & Shetland respective Rolls of Honour…

One hundred years on.

No one wants a return to hatred & carnage, deep bleeding of nations.
My recent visit to Northern Germany with 22 pupils from the AHS reconnects ties between peoples, hence breaking down barriers, ignorance, fears.
We are all connected through various ways – sea, fish, herring, history, heritage. Our own language alone has been forged inside an incredible melting pot – metamorphic, enriched by words that included old German ones, brought over by the people who came to settle and trade on the land in the first place. We must not forget that either.

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We commemorate our own, however, with one hundred years on, my heart also feels for all those who perished in blind madness (war of attrition).
Military, civilians, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, or island -ethnic origin, continent, nationality.

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On such occasion, I was invited to contribute to two events – a creative writing project within a collective, and, reading my own work from such project on the school tannoy.
And so I did.
I therefore let Wildred Owen’s Dulce ET Decorum Est for my own piece entitled Ricochets, a poem which sits within a suite of verse & flash fiction created during this autumn thanks to a project called “1914 and all that”, a joint partnership between the Shetland Museum & Archives and Shetland Arts.

Ricochets resonated in the hearts of many 21st century AHS pupils, who shared their reactions throughout the day.

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Touched & happy they could reach out to one another, pupils & words.
One hundred years on,
let us all remember.

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So, in honour of all victims of the conflict, as well as a “taster” to the event at Wordplay 2014, here is the piece I shared a hundred years later.

Ricochets

Devil’s in the trench,
scavenging round the Earth –
against sandbags,
school, chapel walls or parapets, through cloth of brand new uniforms, grey, khaki, blue –
across cornfields
somebody ploughed in hope for bread,
where boys ventured to kill
boredom away from home in
a bull-ring*,
they remind me of
skimming stones,
light on the loch,
summer, crane flies…
Sleek impromptu or
intruder,
hum-buzz-quick hiss,
whizz, woosh and plop,
to find their way deep inside mud or
in between innocent eyes,
an unknown name
turned animal inside a trench,
who dreamt of blackbirds and angels…

© Nat Hall 2014

Notes: Bull-ring: the famous infamous Bull-ring, training camp in Étaples, where harsh conditions were common place. (Source: Robert M Creig, Doing His Bit, Shetland Times, 1999-2003)

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I think my great grand father would approve of not only my verse, but my thoughts as a whole.

Thank you,
Donald, Brian & Jon.

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Thing-Ting-Ding

Today,
15 young Shetlanders, learners of Norwegian, learnt about the meaning of ancient democracy, Viking style.
For this, they were invited to visit a sailing exhibition on board a boat I associate with summer, friendship as well as a powerful lifeline with my own ancestors.
This ship is called M/S NYBAKK .

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On a 2-day visit to my side of the North Sea, this floating museum reached the last leg of an epic journey through both North & Irish Sea & Atlantic, even sailing across the Caledonian Canal (from SW to NE) to reach out to the Northern Isles.

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At each stage of the voyage, NYBAKK anchored in ancient & deeply rooted democratic sites. Some are called “things”, others, “dings” or “tings”, depending where you stand on the old Viking map.
Now, last month, on 17 May 2014, Norway celebrated her 200th Anniversary as a democracy. It is also known as Constitution Day, and since the Northern Isles were once part of the Viking realm (for much longer than it has been Scottish), such Day is celebrated on this side of the North Sea. It makes complete sense, as this corner or edge of the kingdom remains above all Scandinavian.

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The islands indeed belong to a network of ancient parliament sites, which, in the eyes of NYBAKK, had to be mapped and celebrated. For this, Foundation Leader, Per Kåre Nybakk, contacted Shetland Amenity Trust and offered to sail through those ancient sea trails from the North Atlantic with a formidable exhibition.

The project is called THINGProject

Over the course of today, Wednesday 25 June, NYBAKK was involved with various events, including a civic reception at Lerwick’s Town Hall, a visit to Scalloway & Tingaholm, Shetland’s most famous ting, or Field of Parliament and special presentations at Scalloway Museum.

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Among the speakers, Per Kåre Nybakk delivered a powerful message of friendship he carefully included in his speech. Placing high values on our shared cultural heritage, the importance of such network as well as friendship between us all. Needless to say education is high on his agenda.

Today, young Shetlanders learnt about such project, history, shared heritage and bonds from both sides of the North Sea. Our northern isles are very special.
Today, we celebrated a fantastic human adventure as epic as the Norse Sagas.

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More is to come 🙂

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