This week, our Juniors are taking-part in educational enrichment workshops and activities – yesterday was ‘Dickens Day’, to mark the 149th anniversary of the great author’s death.
During the week, the Junior students will build and develop the knowledge needed in the world of being an adult: finance, law and politics and historical and cultural understanding. They will also learn about the impact that Charles Dickens made regarding social reform and changes in society and regeneration over time, through studying maps and practical skills such as first aid.
Read Head of Junior School, Mrs Glynda Cullen’s, report about Gad’s Dickens Day:
The Junior children stepped back in time yesterday to immerse themselves in all things Dickensian. Workshops to develop skills required for the rich diversity of subjects provided at Gad’s were woven into the day as eyes widened in awe and wonder at the array of activities on offer.
The day began with a welcome visit from the Dickens Fellowship, in costume, as the children became more familiar with not only the great man’s characters, but his real-life inspiration for each of them. An interesting story based on the memorial monument in Higham to the political reformer, Larkin and its ghostly myth had the children engrossed in local history.
As the day progressed, excited voices could be heard throughout the Junior school as children shared tales of their most recent activity. Map reading abilities were developed as the youngsters sharpened their cognition and close observation skills whilst learning about the places in the City that Dickens mentioned in his books. They learnt the importance of comparison and suggesting hypotheses for changes in the developing landscape over the years. Dickens’ novels played an important role in raising awareness of poverty and destitution and the children felt proud to be educated in a setting synonymous with such an important person.
An appreciation of Art is important in educating well-rounded young people and the children learnt about Robert Buss’s posthumous painting of Dickens in his study at Gad’s, dreaming of his characters in celebration of his vivid imagination. They then took to the watercolours to make a personal contribution to the recreating of this unfinished painting to be displayed in the Junior corridor.
We were very fortunate to welcome Dr Jeremy Clarke, Dickens expert and Education Officer at the Guildhall, Rochester, with his box of interesting artefacts. The children observed, investigated and suggested uses of the artefacts whilst learning about the importance of primary sources of historical information. A practical history lesson to develop knowledge, skills and aspirations – I wonder how many budding historians we now have.
Inspired by Oliver Twist, students learnt about Victorian life for a child and conditions in the workhouse. They read some of the vile jobs offered to children in order to earn enough money to buy a scrap of bread and the answered questions on these or wrote a job application for one of them. Writing with the tone of a specific genre takes a lot of practise and the formal tone of application for employment will be useful throughout their education career and beyond in the adult world. The nature of the jobs on offer caused the children to be both entertained and disgusted in equal amounts and will ensure the lesson is firmly planted in their memories.
Marion Dickens is part of the fabric of Gad’s and the children were very excited to meet the lady whose Great-Great-Grandfather was indeed, Charles Dickens. Marion very kindly gave up her whole day to be with the children and welcomed their many questions as she engaged in conversation with each class. Marion commented that she had thoroughly enjoyed the day, thought the children were extremely well behaved and asked many, very interesting, intelligent questions.
History was of course the order for the day but with a creative, purposeful and cross-curricular approach, the Junior teachers have created a day to develop knowledge and skills in our children but importantly, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn.