W/c 7th September 2020
This week the children in years 5&6 have been exploring and co-constructing the company history of their shipping & logistics firm named “Shipping Ashore”.
The week began with an overheard conversation.
Two company employees (Teachers in role) had seen and overheard the General Manager, Rashka Davies, on an international Zoom conference call with the company CEO and our other offices in Rio De Janeiro, New York, and Hamburg.
A debate ensued.
Were we going to listen in to the conversation? Some company members felt this was unprofessional and an invasion of privacy, while others felt it was vital to hear information if it was going to affect us.
Representing objects in Rashka’s office; we listened.
Following the recent worldwide pandemic, the company is in trouble. Only one office can stay open. The team felt very strongly that it should be us, and are currently working on ways to present our views to the CEO when he visits next week…
With all our high-profile commissions and successful transportation of historical artefacts, surely it will be us?
W/c 21st September 2020
This week, the team at Shipping Ashore have been examining their advertising and marketing. Following a company meeting with CEO Antonia Jessop (adult-in-role), it has been decided that in order to maximise custom and strengthen our position as industry leaders that our website will need to be relaunched. The team have been using computer program WIX to design a new webpage.
The office received a visit from the Sutton Hoo acquisitions officer Patricia Field (adult-in-role). She told us of a potential new customer. A private collector from Copenhagen, Denmark has approached the Heritage site and would like to ship the blade of a sword (thought to have belonged to Beowulf), back to England to be reunited with the hilt at Sutton Hoo.
The collector seems nervous, yet eager to be rid of the blade. We questioned why this might be.
W/c 28th September 2020
Through the use of dramatic convention, we were able to observe our potential client.
We had spent time composing an email which was to persuade him that Shipping Ashore was the company to use in order to transport his blade, thought to be the missing tip of Beowulf’s sword.
At his home in Copenhagen, Klaus Hansen (adult in role) was seen reading the email. Pupils also observed him taking great care to ensure the blade was safely locked away. They were invited to build the narrative by imagining Klaus’s home and surroundings.
Questions emerged about this enigmatic collector, and his precious artefact. Children noted that he was using a rather complex system of locks and keys…
Children’s questions included:
How did Klaus obtain the blade?
Why does he have to be so careful with it?
Could it be cursed?
How did the hilt get to Sutton Hoo?
Is there more than just a blade hidden behind the series of locks and keys?
We are keen to find out more.
W/c 5th October 2020
We met with Klaus Hansen (Co-head Duncan in role) via an international Zoom conference call.
Whilst it became clear that Klaus had much to reveal, he explained his nervousness at communicating over the Internet. Later on, a discussion ensued; how much caution should we exercise over what we share online, even just verbally?
The meeting was somewhat frustrating, as we sensed that Klaus had much more he wanted to say. We explored the possibility of travelling in person to meet with Klaus and learn more, but with the Government currently advising against non-essential travel to Denmark this would not be possible.
Nonetheless, Shipping Ashore employees were able to answer our potential client’s questions. The job of transporting Beowulf’s blade to Sutton Hoo is ours and plans for its safe journey are underway.
We designed and began to make motorised models of some of our company’s fleet of lorries, trains, and vans.
W/c 19th October 2020
Preparations continue for the safe and timely deliver of Klaus Hansen’s collection, which allegedly includes the sword of Beowulf. In role as company members, we planned the route of the treasured cargo from Copenhagen to Felixstowe. We examined closely a map of Europe and considered the benefits of various routes, via land, sea and a combination of both. The process became more complex when we discovered that border checks and mandatory breaks for lorry drivers would also need to be factored in!
Design and production of the company fleet is nearing completion as pupils have worked with circuits to make the models motorised, some have even been incorporating lights and horns too!
W/c 2nd November 2020
We began the half term by examining our client’s complex system of locks and keys under which he keeps his treasured collection of Viking artefacts.
Imagining ourselves as the keys we wrote of our inner thoughts. Oliver pointed out that there was one door which could not be opened using a key, housed in a tree in the garden. As a group we co-created a ritualistic sequence of movements which would open this door.
Using this sequence, we were able to open the door and explore what was inside. As we crept through the portal we observed a figure kneeling (teacher-in-role) and heard the poignant final few paragraphs of the poem.
“… The Storm-Geats nation constructed for him a stronghold on the headland, so high and broad that seafarers might see it from afar. That beacon they made in ten days. What remained from the fire they cast a wall around, as fine as their finest men could frame for it…”
Children were invited to suppose what they were observing, and it was quickly decided we had found ourselves at the funeral pyre of Beowulf. In role as warriors, many pupils spoke of their feelings of guilt related to the final battle which they had run from.
Continuing the episode in role as warriors, we drew representations of significant objects and laid them in remembrance of Beowulf. Later that day, pupils produced some exquisite writing based on this experience.
W/c 16th November 2020
Some years after the burial of the Beowulf, potential warriors are called to meet at his final resting place by two Norse shieldmaidens named Hilda and Sigrid, (teachers in role).
The sisters are recruiting their hird (army of warriors), to seek adventure and riches across the seas. Pupils assume the role of the would-be warriors who are preparing to swear their oath and complete the initiation process. Questions arise. What was expected of a Viking? What was life like as a member of a Viking hird? What exactly were the Vikings seeking on their journeys over the seas?
“A Viking is not a Viking until they can sing a song or recite a poem” Pupils prepare a piece of poetry or a song to perform in role at the ceremony. Many choose to create their own.
With the initiation complete and the voyage imminent, the hird is called to a secret meeting by Hilda (teacher in role). She plans to raid Beowulf’s Barrow in order to acquire the treasure and weaponry inside to take on the voyage.
In role as the hird, pupils raise their concerns about this. Could raiding the grave cause us to be cursed? Are we being used? Why keep this raid a secret from her sister, Sigrid? If we were to assist Hilda, how could we be sure she would share the treasures and weaponry? Is it a test of our loyalty? Some pupils questioned the oath they took but were informed by Hilda that they would face grave consequences should they choose to leave the hird.
And as the night of the raid fell, the hird (pupils in role) wrote of their thoughts.
“I feel my adrenaline rise as I think. The night-time breeze travels past my body and regret fills my mind. That foolish oath I took! I feel excitement riddled with dread. Caution must be taken.”
W/c 23rd November and 30th November 2020
Pupils begin the week by conducting research into what life as a member of a Viking hird in rural Denmark was like, in order to prepare for their in-role exploration of the journey from Denmark to England with their Jarls Hilda and Sigrid. Using the co-constructed narrative and locational knowledge of the area, pupils created maps in their Viking journals.
We explored the relationship between the sisters, and why it was that Hilda was willing to act in secrecy from Sigrid when raiding Beowulf’s barrow. A narrative emerged as we represented events from the sister’s past. Pupils in-role played out these events in pairs and discussed the complexities of the relationship. We now know that Sigrid was adopted by Hilda’s parents and that this has long been a source of resentment. We also know that the sister’s mother was drowned on a ship headed to Lindisfarne, Northumbria. It also came to light that unbeknown to everyone, the girls are in fact half-sisters and that Sigrid is the illegitimate child of Hilda’s mother.
In role as warriors once more, we debated our next steps. Would we follow the orders of Hilda and raid the tomb of the legendary Beowulf, or would we break our oath and refuse? It was decided that we would meet with Sigrid (teacher in-role) in secret, however her response was unexpected. She told us we must proceed with Hilda’s orders because both hers and our lives would be in danger if she knew that her hird had questioned her.
On the night of the raid, pupils (in-role as the Hird) met with Hilda. As the boulders of the barrow were peeled away we observed Hilda peering in, to find it empty. Pupils wrote of this experience as a diary entry in their Viking journals. One pupil wrote of her dismay at finding the barrow empty, and all the uncertainty she now felt:
“Hilda’s piercing hazel eyes intimidated the row of warriors before her, as she ordered us to begin the raid. Breath by breath, minute by minute, the hird started to strip down the barrow; my heart sank deeper and deeper with each boulder passed along- I must have been dreaming. What we believed to have been a treasure trove of golden goblets and clinking coins, was simply an empty void of nothingness. I rubbed my eyes and peered over a line of iron helmets; it was true. My dream was not a dream, but a reality. Anxiously I looked up. The moon glided along a cloudy night sky and suddenly an overwhelming wave of emotions crashed down upon me; I began to question my decisions.”
We sail at dawn. The journey across the sea to England is about to begin. Pupils spend time considering the sea and its unpredictable and everchanging nature ahead of our voyage. We respond to this by creating our own seascapes.