This is part of a series of blogposts we will release throughout November, written by Kath Pratt, creator of Soweni school. We are coining this month "Power Month" - the month where we collectively explore an reflect on the power dynamic in ourselves, our societies and, importantly, our schools.
Each blogpost will have key questions and wonderings for us to explore together. These blogposts are aimed to be interactive - We would love to hear your reflections between each post, so that we can reflect on your ideas and build them into our next set of wonderings. So, please do dive in, read and engage with Kath's reflections and tag us on social with yours - @kathsoweni @beckycarlzon.
We are keeping the posts short and sweet so you can enjoy, digest and reflect on each point as we go ...
Let's get wondering ...
Feel the roar! He certainly does...at just two, crouching between these giant paws in the seat of power in Trafalgar Square, London last week. It’s a full body experience. His hands are splayed and that roar is taking every bit of his energy and exploding it into the world. Like a small Simba, Cothan knows he is a huge lion. He has become the lion, there is no pretending involved. Totally embodied, he has immense power at this very moment. It is explosive, terrifying and incredibly cute all at once.
How do we as parents and educators hold these inner lions for our young people? How do we feed them and help them grow brave & independent?
This series of blogposts are about blowing up the ordinary, questioning how we can shift our thinking and behaviour so that we deeply nurture children and young people’s power. Power is more than just dominance.
I’m exploring this subject very close to my heart as a teacher, home educating mum to four young boys and a founder at Soweni, a grassroots non-profit in Cornwall, UK. We have a deep desire to embed education in a more connected world through natural & community ecosystems where everyone and everything can thrive. Through two pilot phases at Soweni I have made some discoveries I’d like to share which seem fundamental to thriving and revolve around our power. I ask:
How can power exist inside ourselves, in relation to others; over one another and alongside each other?
Power can be defined as the ability or capacity to do something, to act in a particular way or to influence events and behaviour of others. Power is also associated with physical strength and size. Historically, power has often been equated with success through domination & subordinate hierarchical power structures which enabled our ancestors to mobilise and build civilizations. Today our leaders, CEOs, ministers & managers are the apex of chains of command which exist enmeshed within hierarchies. These are often justified on the grounds of needing accountability.
As we know from the modern movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, many old systemic power structures need rapid dismantling to redress massive historic power imbalances. Our children will be key alongside us in these struggles and so our language and behaviour around power needs careful and specific attention from early on. While we should not hand over responsibility for fixing all of the world’s problems that have been created and perpetuated through power struggles, we need to equip them with positive understandings and experience of power that goes beyond simple dominance over each other or nature. Relationships are more rich & nuanced, both with others and the natural world, than seeking to dominate and extract what we want without thought of the consequences of the process or outcome on the other. Starting small, with ourselves and our children, may well be our best chance of creating ripples of positive change.
By doing so, we can aim to move away from the taking of power, to a warmer, more collaborative power with each other & our environment.
In these initial thoughts, Kath has shared some initial thoughts around the concept of "power". We would love to hear from you:
Tag us on Twitter - @kathsoweni @beckycarlzon - and share your reflections. We will share the next part of this shared inquiry into "power" on the 8th of November ...
I’m Kath, a childhood freedom fighter. I’m still creeping through the gaps in the hedge to find the forbidden sprawling acres and climbing the oldest, knottiest trees for the view, the bugs and the ancient roots. I’ve been reimagining education and schooling for 19 years. Seeking to change things from the inside and then from the outside -I was an upper primary teacher in inner London and then taught the IB PYP in the Caribbean. My four young boys have been with me for pretty much every meeting while we set up Soweni in 2017, meaning thrive in Cornish, which is a social enterprise rethinking education for a sustainable world on the north cliffs of Cornwall.I’m a bit of a ruckus-maker and love connecting to many others-virtual and in reality so we can talk and walk the change we need for our children and many more generations to come.