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Introductory Blindfold Visit - Clacton High School - Friday 13th July 2007 - A Creative Partnerships Project with the Apricot Centre

posted 1 Jun 2014, 10:48 by Mark O'Connell   [ updated 3 Jun 2014, 13:34 ]

I thought I would briefly share with you our day at Clacton County Highschool. Susanne and I arrived at 8.30am in the morning in the school carpark. The aim was for us to be blindfolded and to meet the students and the school completely without the benefit (or hindrance) of sight. So we went into reception at 9am, as we were required to sign in. We asked for Sarah and Clare our two motivated labyrinth oriented teachers, and they were phoned. Then we said 'we are going to put on our blindfolds so we can be shown around the school, hope you don't find that too strange!'

Sarah and Clare came along and whisked us into a side room. An important teacher was leaving today and everything was delayed by one hour. Susanne and I agreed that we would like to sit and listen with our bodies to the atmosphere of the school, during the farewell in the auditorium for the next hour. We were sat in the side corridor so as not to distract.

What a motivating speech, he was telling the students that they were the cream of the crop, the most academic year yet! He would be contacting the school every  year to findout how they were doing. I wondered if it dawned on the students that being the top  ever means that every other year was sub standard.

Then assembly finished earrly. We were suddenly taken to the main hall way and children, voices, feet swarmed past. 'Watch it, they are kidnapping you!' 'Can I poke him and see what happens?' It felt like a shoal of fish were passing by. Most of them went to class, but a few tried to hang around and see what was happening.

It slowly dawned on me that we were surrounded by about 30 children who were about to lead us around the school. Tom took my hand eventually. He was small, and I could feel that he had a reasonable amount of confidence. They had divided themselves into two groups, boys and girls and each was going to lead us for half of the time.

Susanne went one way and I another. She chose to remain silent. I spoke a little with the children. I thought it would make them more comfortable, but there was no evidence that they were more comfortable with me when we removed our blindfolds an hour later.

The doors felt all so small, and we continually had to squeeze into small rooms. Music recording studios. I felt the body of a Blues Brother statue. Great music kept appearing and dissappearing. Sometimes I think we passed through a whole classroom. Many of the children went quiet, so it was hard to tell. 

We went outside and then through a door and were outside again. Strange! Into a large field. 'This is the hill where people get bullied'. 'People roll down this slope'. Then we came to a brick wall with stones sticking out. I tried to climb it briefly.

The sea breeze and sun were refreshing. Back into the school and the halls smelt like various different chemical cleaners and sweaty shoes. This is J block, H block, G block. The children shared me their daily routines, I was more interested in the sound of their shoes. The way they walked. The way they held me. The boys handed me to the girls. Amy was rough. She giggled. Slammed me accidentally into a few tables. Put my hands on students heads. She found it hard to imagine what it was like for me. But then she said 'this is where I fell over when I first came to school'. I wanted to go back there and for her to show me how she fell.  I later could identify her from her shoes.

Then onwards and upwards. Into modern smelling spaces. Into the female staff toilets. A hand drier was turned on. 'What does it smell like?' Back to the corridor. hot and stuffy. Suddenly we were at a window and a pleasant breeze and light came through. 'This feels like a place to be' I said.

Meeting a school and children like this is very connecting. We exchanged feedback with the children and teachers, still blindfolded. And then when we removed them, there was little awkwardness or shyness.

For the rest of the day we gave them a workshop. Soundwork, Sound massage, Team and Circle Games, Moving as they felt somewhere in the school. And at the end of the day they each joined a group of one of 5 senses. No six senses as someone suggested the 6th Sense!

A fabulous day. Too tired tonite to do it full justice. But this was a labyrinth journey in it's own right.

Mark

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