Transcript of a eulogy, for the late Rev Master Saido Kennaway

Following on from our tribute to Rev. Master Saido Kennaway,  this week, we are publishing the transcript of the eulogy spoken at his funeral, by Karen Richards. At the end of the post, is the youtube link to his funeral, which was held at Telford Crematorium, on Saturday the 18th of March.

Rev. Saidō Kennaway
Rev. Saidō Kennaway

I knew Rev Saido for over forty years, as a teacher, fellow Trustee of Telford Buddhist Priory and as a friend, not only to me, my husband David and our family but to the whole Telford Community. Some memories of him stand out like polaroid photographs, with little details still sharp. In others, there is just the sense of a person who truly knew what it meant to be human.

He once explained the process of entering the monastery as a postulant. The trainee stands at the gate, head shaved, new robes on and asks to be let in. He or she is left there for some time, with their alms bowl in hand, as a test of their resolve to train in monastic life. At the end of their wait, they are asked on three occasions, why they wish to enter the monastery. David Kennaway’s answer was. “I wish to live with integrity”. I was impressed by that answer because it struck me that he wasn’t asking for anything. He wasn’t asking for shelter from the world or Enlightenment or anything for himself. Rather he wanted to take an honest look at himself and take responsibility for his life. This pledge, his pledge, has affected us all.

I first met him in the early 1980s. at a weekend retreat held at the home of the late Vajira Bailey, in Bearwood, Birmingham. I was not attending the retreat, myself, but dropping off David my husband. I had made a cake, with dried fruit in it, which, to my horror, had all sunk to the bottom of the tin, during baking. I was prepared to drop David off and duck out as quickly as I could but when she saw the cake, Vajira insisted that I give it to the monks, in person.

She invited me into a room, where R M Daishin and Rev Saido were seated, eating their supper at the table. They made an immediate impression on me – one of those polaroid moments that you never forget. I was introduced, we exchanged a few words, I placed the cake on the table, and left.

At the end of the weekend, I returned to pick up David, this time waiting in the car, outside. As we drove off, I asked how it had all gone. Good, apparently and oh, the monk sent a message for you, “Tell your wife she makes good cake”.

Now, that cake would not have won any prizes, but, the message was a kindness, pointing towards the offering rather than the cake itself and that first meeting set the course for the rest of my life.

We met, on many occasions, in the years that followed, particularly in his role as Lay Ministry Advisor. However, It was when, in the year 2000, when he came to be prior, of Telford Buddhist Priory, that I got to know him well and had the good fortune to learn from him. He had chosen Telford, in part, because it was centrally situated to the places he needed to get to, to continue his work for Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation, and for his work for the Network of Buddhist Organisations, as well as his work as the Order’s European Advisor.

He loved the priory building itself and saw it as a great treasure, with its large garden and garage big enough to become a workshop for projects, its light and airy mediation room and the kitchen’s in-built, deep fat fryer, which he soon became very skilful at using. So he introduced a ’Chips and Chat’ evening into the schedule. Those chips were very, very good.

Alongside the usual schedule, Rev. Saido introduced sangha walks, days out, gardening days and canal trips. These events brought our community together so that we weren’t merely ships that passed on a meditation night but true Dharma friends and we thrived on it.

He liked to do things a bit differently, not too differently, just enough to point beyond the outward form and would often comment, “I’m probably a heretic!” And chuckle, to himself. For instance, he liked the altar to be full and burgeoning, more in the Malay style than the Japanese Zen, which is much simpler. And he didn’t care to be called a Master, though he surely was a Master.

He rarely gave formal talks. Rather, his practice was to teach by example and by bringing the Dharma into group conversations. When he did give a talk it would usually involve diagrams or unusual teaching aids, such as Newton’s cradle to teach the Law of Karma.
Mostly, Rev Saido’s teaching came through his actions, the way he lived his life, his sense of humour and direct way of speaking and his willingness to talk one to one with someone about their difficulties, for as long as it took to help them.

He was also a practical and creative person who would make or fix things, rather than throw them away – and sometimes he didn’t fix things and still didn’t throw them away. Like the time he offered to fix my indoor water feature. He took it apart, decided it was beyond him and then left me with a pile of bits.

The garage was his happy place, where he could be creative and in which, over a period of time, he made his beloved Stupa, which now stands outside the French Windows of Telford Buddhist Priory and into which his ashes will be interred.

These past months, however, his health began to fail him, and, on the official day of the Buddha’s Parinirvana, in the Buddhist calendar, he got his cancer diagnosis. And, it was The Festival of the Buddha’s Parinirvana, held at Telford Buddhist Priory, that came to be the last ceremony he ever officiated at. He was frail and wobbly on his feet but he still did full bows and would not accept a chair to sit on for the duration of the ceremony, when one was offered. I knew in my heart that this would be the last time that he would be our celebrant. I stood close by, in case he should fall and, in so doing, I noticed a sizeable hole in one of his white socks. I thought about offering to mend it but I knew it wasn’t necessary, not because he wouldn’t wear them again, that I surely knew, rather, just like that cake, all those years ago, it was his offering that mattered.

When it got too much, Rev Kanshin, to whom we are eternally grateful, came to help him and we did what we could.

For those of us fortunate enough to be around him during those final weeks, we witnessed a person still giving everything he could. He took care of as much business as his body would allow. He meditated through the pain and called those around him Bodhisattvas.

One cold Saturday morning, Rev Kanshin and I set out to rearrange the garage a bit, so that we could move some furniture out of the common room, into there, to make space for Rev Saido’s bed.

I was shocked that Rev Saido came to help us because he seemed so ill and frail. I urged him not to come out in the cold but he insisted, “I can still point!” he said and point he did.

There were remnants of his personal projects everywhere and we were instructed to relocate them and not to damage anything. At one point, I picked up a little bundle of what I thought was misplaced recycling – two margarine cartons and a yoghurt pot and I asked if I should put them out in the recycling bag. He looked at me and said, “No, those can be used again” We stood in silence for a moment, looking at each other. He had been busy for days, signing off on legal papers and letting go of his worldly responsibilities, but there, in that cold garage, it seemed to me that letting go of these simple, cherished objects, which perhaps no one else but he would value in quite the same way, was the greater challenge. He almost crumbled at that moment and so did I. Then, accepting what needed to be done, he said, softly, “Yes, OK” and let me take them away.

Reverend Saido, Thank you for your life of training and dedicated work for us all. We are so very grateful for it. You did indeed fulfil your first intention, to live your life with integrity.


Reverend Saidō Kennaway – Tribute

Rev. Saidō Kennaway
Rev. Saidō Kennaway

Dear friends, Like many in our community, we are saddened by the sudden death on the 3rd of March of Rev. Saidō Kennaway, our beloved friend and teacher and the prior of Telford Buddhist Priory. Today it is Rev. Saidō’s 73rd birthday and we like to take the opportunity to pay tribute and express our gratitude.

The greatest teaching of Rev. Saidō has been by example. He was the embodiment of kindness, compassion, generosity and wisdom in all his dealings with others, regardless of status or rank. His lightheartedness and quite joy was infectious. Speaking to him would always lighten your mood, even if your burdens remained. Rev. Saidō was a truly humble human being. He deserves recognition for everything he has done for the Throssel and Telford community, for the sangha at large, for his interfaith work as committee member of the Network of Buddhist Organisations and for his work during many decades with Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy.

Dear Rev. Saidō, our heartfelt gratitude and thank you for the light of wisdom you’ve shared,  the difference you have made for so many of us and for the inspiring example you have set in our community and in the world at large. The soft spoken voice, the chuckle, the twinkle in the eye, it will be much missed and held in loving memory.

“When we think sincerely we find that birth and death are cyclic as are cold and heat”   – From the Buddhist funeral ceremony

A small anecdote about Rev Saidō I will always remember. My first stay at Throssel Abbey was as a teenager in the early eighties. One afternoon, I had collected my dried laundry in a basked, before I could process it any further in the old laundry room, I left it there as I apparently needed to do some other errand first. Upon my return, someone had used the same basked – baskets being in short supply – to collect wet laundry out of the washing machine to free it up for the next load.  As I stood for a moment looking at the basked with the mix of wet and dry laundry, wondering what to do, I heard the monk, also present in the laundry room, say: “Oh dear! I am sorry!” He quickly came over to remove the wet stuff out of the basked to prevent my dry laundry getting damp. I remember being quite surprised that, first of all, this monk would notice and get the situation without me having said anything, then he would actually apologize to me, a foreigner and a youngster, and he would make the effort to correct the situation. The small interaction seems insignificant but to be attuned and accountable, to be decent and kind without there being onlookers, without a spotlight, and regardless of rank or status, is the hallmark of true empathy and humbleness. My young self may not have been able to articulate all this but I understood and it left a lasting impression.


Funeral service for Rev. Saidō will be held on Saturday 18th March at 09:30 am, Telford Crematorium. There will be a Live Cast broadcast during the Funeral. Further information also on Jademountains



This week, we begin a series of posts on the theme of Bright. Here, Chris Yeomans explains how the adjustment of bodily postures, helps us to maintain a bright mind, even in the midst of grief.

There often occurs in the teaching the injunction to ‘sit with a bright mind’ and I find myself wondering what we can do to help ourselves to embrace this.  And this is particularly relevant at a time when we are all feeling such sadness that we have, this week, lost a great teacher and a friend with the death of a dear monk of our Order.  How to be bright and sad at the same time without devaluing our mourning?

What I have found helpful is to remind myself that body and mind are one and indivisible.  If we relax the muscles of our face, we can manage a small smile.  If we open our eyes a little wider, perhaps lift our eyebrows, then we do indeed feel brighter.  It helps to ‘walk tall’ or, on the bench, to sit tall.  And to feel an openness in the chest and back, which enables our mind to be more accepting.  These are all little things which I was also taught to do when fighting sleep during the meditation and which I have found really do help.

In my experience, this does not diminish the sadness.  But it allows me to hold it, as it were, in the circle of my arms, with a lightness and a tenderness that no longer pulls me down.

Brightness is a part of our practice and we can look for those things that help us, both in ourselves and in the world around us.


In our latest feature on the theme of Blue, Anna Aysea explores the origins of the colour blue, the language used to describe it and how our perception of it has developed over time.

Blue pigment
Blue pigment

There is more to blue than meets the eye. Apparently, the colour blue did not exist for our ancestors. Researchers analyzed ancient texts from all over the world, the Hebrew Bible, the Quran, and ancient Chinese, Hindu, and Inuit languages. All major languages seem to show the same development regarding colour: words for black and white appear first as indicators for dark and light, then the word for red as an indicator for danger, then words for green and yellow, the word for blue is the last to appear in the language. In ancient texts, black and white are mentioned the most, to a lesser degree red is mentioned, then green and yellow, researchers found no mention of blue, not once. The word for blue appears only after the invention of blue synthetic dye by the Egyptians about 5000 years ago. Our ancestors did not see blue as a separate colour but as a shade of green.

The reason that there was no word for blue in ancient times is because blue pigment does not exist in nature. You may ask: “Well, what about the ocean, the blue sky, blueberries, my blue hydrangeas, my blue eyes? The blueish colour of less than ten percent of flowers is caused by a natural modification of a red pigment, which is also responsible for the colour of blueberries. The pigments of indigo or woad are variations of violet. The blue of the sky, the ocean and blue eyes are the result of how light is refracted. This is also true for the vivid blue of exotic birds or butterflies. The microscopic structure of the feathers or wings is such that it refracts the light in a way that the surface appears blue.

Lapis lazuli and the ultramarine made from it is the exception as a true blue pigment in nature. The fact that the pigment is so rare may be the reason why lapis lazuli is associated with healing, wisdom and compassion in Buddhist teaching. Also, plants thrive best under blue light. Afghanistan being the major source of Lapis lazuli, the pigment was mostly used in the east in Buddhist and Mughal art for centuries. Its diffusion in Europe began during the Crusades in medieval times, but its rarity and cost meant that it could be afforded for the creation of artworks only for the most wealthy. Hence blue is the colour of royalty.

The ephemeral nature of the colour blue is in fact true for all colours. According to modern science, colour is the way light is absorbed, reflected and scattered by a surface, colour does not exist as such but is an interpretation of a wavelength by the sensory apparatus. In other words, colour is what reality looks like when it is filtered and interpreted by the body-mind. Sense perceptions are not reality but an image, like the map, is not the territory but a representation of it. I am reminded of the Scripture of Great Wisdom which also dismisses sense perceptions as reality:

… in this pure there is no … eye, – ear, – nose, – tongue, – body, – mind; No form, – no tastes, – sound, – colour, touch or objects…

The world is real, but it is not what it appears to be based on eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Form, taste, sound, colour, touch or objects are images, are representations, not reality. Mistaking the image for the territory is entering the world of illusion. Without that erroneous belief, there is beauty and joy in the play of the senses, in the radiant, glorious blue of ultramarine as one of the myriad faces of the one reality.

The Deep Blue Eyes of the Peacock Butterfly

This week, Mo Henderson continues the theme of ‘Blue’ with a reflection on the life cycle of the Peacock butterfly and how its “natural connection with the world around it” can serve as a reminder of our own purpose.









I recently saw a peacock butterfly. I can understand how it got that name, so beautiful, just like the colours in a male peacock’s feathers. This one had vivid blue spots on its wings, looking like eyes peering out at you from a bright crimson background. Its expression of life was breathtaking,  how sad this wonderful creature’s life is all but a few fleeting weeks in spring. I looked up its life cycle.

‘In May, after mating, females lay their eggs in batches of up to 500. After a week or two the caterpillars hatch and spin a communal web in which they live and feed. As they grow, the caterpillars increasingly live in the open. They pupate alone, and adults emerge from July. The main priority is to feed-up before the winter hibernation, in dark crevices, sheds and tree holes. Adults emerge again in spring to mate and breed’. 1

That evening I recalled the sight of this stunning little creature and pondered on its existence. Expressing life in that way appears to have meaning because of its functioning and natural connection with the world around it. A butterfly is not searching for meaning, it simply ‘is’, it has nothing to hold on to or search for. It simply responds to the need of the moment. How easy it seemed for this creature to flow with nature, without present concerns based on past memory or future possibilities.

‘I suggest that enlightenment and meaning are functions of the present moment’ 2

As a human being and not a butterfly, I often wonder if my own authentic expression of life is ‘seen’. I’m consciously aware of having an individual story, based on what I have experienced and how I perceive and remember it. I’m sure these elements must intrude on my response to the needs of the present moment. Sometimes I feel distracted from ‘seeing’ what needs doing. Is our real nature always present like the butterfly’s?

At a personal level I believe each of us has a part to play and discovering what that is, and how we can naturally function to express that in a much bigger picture, is a lifetime’s work. This is challenging, particularly in making the ‘right’ choices. Sometimes, I can all but wonder how much my choices will help ourselves and others. There may be a sense of knowing but no absolute certainty.

The daily practice of Zazen (sitting meditation), simply learning to accept and be with what arises in the present moment, is enough to help us see how to respond by making good choices 3.

When I realise I have made a mistake, is this still expressing life as best I can? I believe meditation practice is an expression of our true nature, by giving space to be with and accept life as it is. This daily practice, which permeates into our lives, helps us to ‘see’ ways to help us learn from mistakes and respond to the conditions which arise. For me, rather than blaming myself or others, it has meant having faith in the practice and trusting myself to respond in helpful ways.

Sometimes life seems to flow easily and other times the work which comes is challenging. I am not the butterfly with the deep blue eyes on its wings, but there is a wish to try to ‘see’ with eyes that look closer at expressing what true nature is.

Mo Henderson

1 The RSPB Wildlife Charity
2 Rev Master Daishin Morgan (Page 63 Buddha Recognises Buddha).
3 Rev Master Daishin Morgan (Sitting Buddha-Zen Meditation for Everyone)

The colour blue

Our second post, on the theme of Blue, is by Chris Yeomans. In it, she explores human perception and experience of the colour. Enjoy!


This morning when I looked out of the window in the semi-darkness everything was shrouded in soft grey mist, white frost outlining roof tiles and branches.  The air was still.

Yesterday, in contrast, there was a clear blue sky, the frost sparkling, the light dancing, lifting the spirits, putting energy into my step.

I am reading a book called ‘The Flow’ by Amy-Jane Beer, essentially about rivers and water courses.  By chance in the current chapter, she explores the idea of blue, starting with the etymology of the word.  ‘Blue, it seems, is consistently last among the primary hues to be named.  Many old languages and some modern languages fail to separate it emphatically from green.’  Just as Arctic cultures have many more names for snow than we do, it seems that, in some cultures, blue has far fewer and she suggests that ‘humans can see colour In different ways and these seem to relate to language.’

It seems that the colour blue has absorbed and inspired humans for centuries.  For us in our climate and our culture, blue is everywhere, day and night.  Van Gogh’s night sky was a startling navy. ‘Ice’ says Robert McFarlan, ‘has a memory and the colour of this memory is blue.’  ‘Fresh snow is white,’ says Amy-Jane,’but it sinters into blue.’  (Interesting choice of word here.)

The race and culture to which I belong can ‘see’ blue in many shades and guises and we can name many of them.  It is the fabric of the natural world for us, so it is hardly surprising that my heart lifts when I see blue sky, the reflection of it in a dazzling blue sea and a sense of peace as it fades in the evening through the spectrum into a darkness which is not black.




Lapis Blue ~ by Karen Richards ~ part of the Blue series

For the next few weeks, Dew on the Grass is featuring writing and artwork around the theme of the colour Blue. To kick things off, we have a short post by Karen Richards who writes about lapis lazuli and its associations with healing.

The blue of lapis lazuli is intensely deep and often contains gold-coloured flecks of pyrite, giving the impression of faint stars in a darkening sky (1). Lapis lazuli has been associated with medicine for centuries and, in the ancient world, was thought to have mystical and healing power, especially the ability to reduce inflammation. In Vajrayana Buddhism, the deep blue colour of lapis is thought to have a purifying and strengthening effect on those who visualise it.  It is not surprising, therefore, that lapis lazuli was incorporated into the iconography depicting the Bodhisattva Bhaisajyaguru, also known as The Healing or Medicine Buddha.

All very apt, when we consider that the colour blue also has associations with the NHS, and so it’s fitting perhaps that, at the beginning of two days of strike action by NHS medical staff, in pursuit of better pay, conditions and improved patient safety that we should give a hat tip to the service.

According to  Raoul Birnbaum, in his book The Healing Buddha (2), medical healing was seen as important to the Buddha who, in His wisdom, saw that a strong body was conducive to a strong meditative practice. Further, it is said that He directed the early monks to tend to those who were sick as part of their practice. So, whilst the Medicine Buddha points towards the healing of spiritual afflictions – the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion – he also represents the healing of the physical body.

Some years ago, now, my husband had his lower left leg amputated because of an infection. During this time of acute illness, he was drawn to Birnbaum’s book and kept it by him to study. He also developed a love of lapis lazuli. So, on his 60th birthday, I sought out a piece of the semi-precious stone, finally settling on the piece, below.

I found it in a crystal shop, in the town of Ironbridge, and I was intrigued by its shape, which looked uncannily like a foot or boot. My husband loved it. For him, it represented the foot that he had lost and he found strength and comfort in it. He still keeps it by him, ready to hold should he feels the need.

For those who are in physical and mental suffering, alongside the medical treatments of the modern world, getting to know a little about The Healing Buddha and the associated semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli, may bring a different healing dimension.

1. Information and introductory photograph by Wikipedia

2. The Healing Buddha by Raoul Birnbaum ISBN 0 09 142451 8 First published in Great Britain in 1980


108 Meditations in Saffron – The familiar seen in a new light ~ by Anna Aysea ~ part of the “Unexpected Visitor” series

Completing our feature on the theme of “An Unexpected Visitor”,  Anna Aysea shares the artwork of David Chatt and his 108 Meditations in Saffron, which is a very unusual and insightful take on the litter that we leave behind.

108 Meditations in Saffron by David Chatt
108 Meditations in Saffron by David Chatt, found objects, glass beads.

Last week as I did a search for something completely different, the algorithm served a most irrelevant image which grabbed my attention. There was something very familiar about what looked like a series of neatly arranged random objects and yet I could not determine what I was looking at. Following intuition, I clicked and unexpectedly found “108 Meditations in Saffron” by American artist David Chatt.

I’d like to share the artist’s statement about the experience which inspired him to turn trashed objects into glass-beaded jewels as a form of contemplation :

“A few years ago I made it my habit to walk every day. I was living in a large city and couldn’t help noticing how much garbage littered my path. I lamented this fact, and wondered, with more than a little sanctimony, what kind of person throws trash to the ground? My indignation increased with each bottle or discarded wrapper. As my regime progressed, I gained a begrudging interest in these objects of contempt. I noticed that there are socioeconomic patterns to street garbage. One neighborhood’s garbage is not the same as the next. I learned the places where homeless people sit and drink. I was fascinated when visiting Kyoto, Japan to discover a city where not one speck of litter could be found. I began to see the detritus in the streets where I live as a record of sorts and even looked forward to what I would find each day. I also began to see items that had not existed until recent years and wondered what a collection of litter from today would look like in ten, twenty or one hundred years.  Inevitably, I began to pick up objects that appealed to me. When I moved to a neighborhood that was less inclined toward litter, I found that I was disappointed not to see so many of these messages from my community along my path. It felt unfriendly. My own transformation complete, I wanted to show this work in a way that the wonderment I felt for these objects could be shared. I think of my walks as meditations and decided to showcase my collection by covering each found item in saffron beads the color of the robes of the Buddhist monks I had seen in Southeast Asia. I collected and covered one hundred and eight items.”

108 Meditations in Saffron by David Chatt
108 Meditations in Saffron by David Chatt, found objects, glass beads.

Visit the artist’s website for more inspiring and meticulous beadwork

Log in the Stream ~ by Mo Henderson ~ part of the Unexpected Visitor theme

Continuing our theme of The Unexpected Guest, we offer you a poem, written by Mo Henderson. Suggest reading it, and then reading it again more slowly.  It has ‘hidden depths’.

Log in the Stream

Grounded, movement flowing around this half-submerged body,
neither within nor without.
Water gradually changing my shape,
until eventually, the earth beneath loosens its grasp,
free to go, what path to take?

My coat of moss entangles with passing unexpected visitors,
appearing and disappearing, familiar old fellows.
Once standing tall together,
in the distant bright green meadows.

Never fearing, trusting, as the waterfall is heard.
Suddenly a free fall then a rising in the lake.
Ever-changing forms, just as leaves grow from the root,
end and beginning return to the source,
what next will becoming make?

Mo Henderson

Changing our Minds ~ by Karen Richards ~ part of the An Unexpected Visitor series

Continuing our theme of An Unexpected Visitor, Karen Richards reviews the book Changing our Minds, by Naomi Fisher.

My unexpected guest is a book; a very unexpected one!

When we review a book on Dew on the Grass, at its heart there is usually a spiritual teaching. Although this book is scientific ( in that it looks at the psychology of learning) and secular (in the sense that there is no mention of the religious life, in the conventional sense) it has turned around a fixed view of mine, facilitating a change of heart as well as a change of mind.

Two months ago, my eldest daughter decided to de-register her youngest child from school. My granddaughter has always found the environment of school challenging, despite achieving well academically. Likewise, my youngest daughter also made the decision to withdraw her son from state education, for similar reasons. Both children appeared quite traumatised by the system. Home education eventually became inevitable.

As a retired teacher, who taught in the state system, in some capacity or other, for over thirty years, I was eager to help, especially as both daughters have to work. But educating at home is not the same as educating in school, which I soon found out. Sitting at a desk, trying to follow a lesson and complete written tasks, for large parts of the day, is a challenge, even for the most compliant and engaged child but, as a classroom teacher, I had taken it for granted that the learning environment that I had created in my classroom, was the best that was possible for the young people in front of me.

Enter Changing Our Minds, by Naomi Fisher. Fisher is a clinical psychologist who specialises in autism and also works with children who have suffered trauma. She also home-educated her own children. Along with others, she has completed extensive research into how children learn and she makes a very compelling argument that for many, school is not ‘IT’.

In her opening chapter, she writes:

Most of us cannot imagine how a child can become educated if they don’t go to school, we don’t really consider the alternatives. We try different schools or more support at school. We take the child to be assessed for disorders and pay for therapists, all in the hope that we can get the help they need to get them through school. Leaving the school system altogether is usually portrayed as a disaster, it’s called ‘dropping out’ and nothing good comes of that.

Fisher then goes on to explain, in clinical detail, how school can create trauma for the child who does not fit the mould; for whom the social model of school, which is a top-down, ‘you must learn this’ one, can actually stultify learning and leave the student demotivated and disengaged. She argues for a more self-directed, autonomous design of education, either in a *Free school or in the home, where children can learn in their own way, at their own pace, following their own interests, if not passions.

267 pages later and I get it. I reflect upon my teaching career and remember those young people for whom school was not the right way for them but was actually a source of great trauma and suffering. Of course, not every parent has the wherewithal to home-educate, or to pay someone else to do this for them. It is important not to swing into setting up an ideal, which cannot be obtained. For many, school is the best fit, for others, it is the only option.

But I have found it useful, not only to reflect upon my own professional practice but on how we can get stuck in ways of thinking about all sorts of things, without questioning or reviewing from time to time, by asking two important questions. “Is this really the best that I can do?” and if not, “What needs to change?”

*A Free School is a democratically run school where the students have a high degree of autonomy and self-direction in their own learning, such as the Sudbury School


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