During my time at Plashet School in East Ham, I had a group of children with a wide variety of learning problems. I was given a free timetable,and was able to introduce film-making,wall-painting,interchange with penfriends,camping at Debden,butter-making,a puppet-theatre and many other stimulating activities.
I took the children to galleries and Museums; we went to see the Leonardo Cartoon,having worked hard to contribute thirty shillings to save it for the country,and when we could not see it because someone had thrown ink at it we jointly composed a critical letter to express our disappointment. Our form captain received a very sympathetic letter, which was pinned to our noticeboard for several weeks.
It was perhaps the happiest period of my teaching career. The children loved school,and seemed to flourish: there were very rarely (apart from physical problems) any difficulties.
Because I love poetry, I introduced the girls to a wide variety of poets,and they often wrote poetry themselves. One of the group ,who was not by any means an academic,loved school so much that when she reached leaving age(fifteen at that time) she asked if she could stay on for an extra year, and it was my job to see that she had a balanced timetable. She spent a good deal of her spare time in the library,and read poetry with a kind of hunger I have not often seen in children with such learning problems. She decided to collect her poetry in a book, and although the writing and spelling are not of a high standard the quality of her work is,I think,astonishing.
She gave me the book when she left school.
At the same time she gave me a crumpled piece of blue notepaper.
On it she had written(spellings as written):
Waiting for Someone
I was waiting for Someone to come into my life
The life that was fulled with unhappiess
Night and day would past,but nobody
Would step into a world of sadness.
He saw me home for the first time
Which I thought would fade away
To my suprize he asked me out again,
With a smile on my face I felt amazed
That he would even look at me.
There were girls better looking than me.
He said " that I was the girl in his fantasy world
The world of loving and giving.
Here are two more poems:
Lost in the Morning Air
In the clean air with the fresh smell of grass
It was a day when nobody was about
I felt lost, alone thinking what can I do?
The fields were empty with noone in sight
The trees were lost without the birds
What can sing also needs sleep
Is it that it is too early in the morning?
Living on this Earth
I have no name
No where to go
No friends to call my own
But happy am I
To live on this earth
This place they call home.
I wrote this poem after reading Infant Joy
by William Blake
She was,I think,a very sad child. I hope she found what she was seeking.