Schools case study: All About Boats

In summer term of 2010, I undertook a collaborative eight week residency with P6 classes in three Edinburgh primary schools, working across the curriculum on the subject “All About Boats”.

Starting with a multi-media presentation about my voyage by reed boat, we went on to look at the ecological crisis that destroyed the once-great civilisation of Easter Island. The children made replicas of the famous statues in their art class, then moved onto writing haikus and historical prose about their own local waterway, the Union Canal. We split into teams to build boats from household junk, then looked at how to write effective copy for posters encouraging people to keep the canal clean. Finally, with visiting theatrical director Michael Richardson, I worked alongside the children writing short plays of their own devising which were performed for parents on the banks of the canal after a day trip on a local community narrowboat.

I had a wonderful time. Here’s what others thought…

JANEY ROSS, P6 Class teacher, Sighthill Primary School: “Nick’s voyage to Easter Island really inspired and motivated the children and immediately caught their imagination. We planned the sessions together, with scope for learner direction and choice. Nick was very amenable to this… The challenges he set meant that the children had to be open to new thinking and ideas and think creatively. I really enjoyed working with Nick and know the children did too. I would have no hesitation in recommending Nick to fellow teachers as he was so highly motivated and enthusiastic – which was contagious!”

CERIN RICHARDSON, (then) Principal Officer for Arts and Learning, City of Edinburgh Council: “Having commissioned Nick to work with pupils in some challenging primary schools I was extremely impressed with his ability to engage pupils, and inspire them with the details and excitement of the voyages he had undertaken. Working in a truly interdisciplinary way across curriculum areas Nick used his skills as an author to ignite the children’s creativity. He was able to explore Literacy and English, Science, Health and Wellbeing, and Technology through his interactive sessions and he used the adventure elements from his own experiences of exploration as a particularly useful tool for engaging boys. What the children achieved demonstrated really imaginative creative writing and an understanding of their own learning. A significant number of Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes were met during Nick’s dynamic interventions with the class.”

ELANOR SHANKS, P6 Class Teacher, Canal View Primary, Edinburgh: “It broadened their horizons and exposed them to new people and places… the children were fascinated by Nick’s Easter Island experiences… A fantastic project. Thanks.”

EMMA (11): “When Nick was talking about his boat trip to Easter Island I was quite amazed and I would like to do that because it looks fun. Nick, when you brought in the things from Easter Island I liked looking at them because I have never touched them before. When we did the Haikus it was fun, because I like riddles… doing the navvy stories was good because we got to pretend we were navvies… It was all really fun and I wish we could do it again.”

KYLE (11): “I enjoyed it when Nick was telling us about a shark that he saw. I liked it when we did the writing and the posters.”

CURTIS (11): “My favourite lesson was the Easter Island lesson with Nick. I liked looking at the Moai statues.”

LAUREN (11): “Thankyou for all the lovely things you organised for us… I was speechless when I saw how many parents came along to the show.”

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